PCC elections: Three Leicestershire candidates are put to the test
On the eve of elections for our first police and crime commissioner, the hopefuls answer more of Leicester Mercury readers’ questions.
Q Will the party political nominees always stick to the party line or will they be independent of all political ties?
Sarah Russell: My party affiliation is about the values I will use to make judgements and set priorities on a day-to-day basis – fairness, social justice, equality, community, protecting those who are most vulnerable.
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I will be responsible to the people of the force area, not a party line.
Sir Clive Loader: At the beginning of this year, the Conservative Party approached me and asked if I would consider standing as their candidate.
I decided I would do that because their core values were a comfortable fit for me, as a compassionate Conservative.
But I have been clear throughout that my boss would not be Conservative Party Central Office or Home Secretary Theresa May.
Whoever is elected, their boss will be the populace of Leicestershire and Rutland.
Suleman Nagdi: As an independent, I would be there to serve and answer to the public only and not to political parties – unlike the other candidates.
Our police must remain independent and cannot be politicised.
QA very low turn-out is forecast for tomorrow. So how, if this turns out to be fact, will you be able to claim a popular mandate?
SR: It will be very difficult to claim a mandate if the turnout is very low, so it's vital to prove the success of the role. I will do this by working across political and administrative boundaries, giving people confidence and opportunities to hold me to account and challenge me throughout the term of office.
SCL: Even if only six people vote and four of them have voted for me, I would do the job with as much gusto and enthusiasm as I would if there had been an 80 per cent turnout.
There may be a low turnout on this occasion but this is the first time people have been asked to take part in an election of this nature.
If the PCCs do their job well and make a real difference over the next few years, I think people will be much more enthused and knowledgeable next time.
SN: I have tried my best to promote a popular mandate by writing personally to the Prime Minister and encouraging the mailshot which is delivered to every household before every local and general election.
Unfortunately the Prime Minister would not agree.
QWhere is our opportunity to vote for no change to the system?
SR: Sadly, the Government has brought this change in without a pilot or a local option – that was decided nationally by the Government and is not something the candidates have a say on.
SCL: Whatever people think about the initiative, we are going to have police and crime commissioners.
I want people who are considering not voting to ask themselves "which of these three candidates has the background and proven skills to hold the chief constable to account?"
They also need to ask who they trust to drive through the efficiencies which will be necessary, while maintaining frontline policing and ensuring that all people's voices are heard.
SN: Right now, most people do not know who is on the Police Authority.
At least with an elected PCC there will be a visible, democratically-elected individual who can more easily be held to account by the public.
QThere seems to be no evidence of candidates' election materials or official explanatory documents and websites having been translated into other languages.
What are the candidates doing to ensure people who do not speak English are able to participate?
SCL: This is a fair question and it is true my website is only available in English.
However, the question begged is "how many languages is enough?" – bearing in mind there was no Government money for this election, and each version would incur further cost.
I did have some of my leaflets translated in order to reach out to one section of the Leicester city population, but I accept I might have done more here.
It is of note, however, I have had many hours of meetings with the various communities, enga ging directly with their leaders, who in turn have assured me that they will explain the PCC initiative and encourage their communities to vote.
SR: Sadly, we have not had the resources in my campaign to translate materials.
I am, however, very grateful for all my multi-lingual supporters who have been taking the time to meet with communities and individuals, knock on doors and explain about the election and the candidates face-to-face.
SN: I have enlisted volunteers and engaged with community leaders from the various diverse communities which make up our city, including Bengali, Pakistani, Gujarati, Punjabi, Somali, Turkish, Kurdish and many others so that people who do not speak English are able to participate in this election.
The decision of the Government to not issue a mailshot to every household has definitely been a disaster because not enough people in the city and county know about these elections and who the candidates are.