Get out and vote for your commissioner
In the last of our election-themed articles, Hemant Bhatia explains the thinking behind his vote.
Today is an election day! For many people this will be a surprise – we don't normally vote in November and many people are still unsure about what they are voting on and what the new police and crime commissioners (PCC) will do. I, for one, have mixed feelings.
On the negative side, the media have quoted a figure of more than £100 million to introduce these roles.
NEW LEBANESE HOME BUFFET EVERY DAY @ CEDARS LEBANESE REST £ 6.99...View details
EAT AS MUCH AS U CAN OPEN LUNCH BUFFET £6.99PP
Terms: Come & Try our Delicious Menu with an Amazing 15% off all Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Contact: 0116 2169184
Valid until: Monday, May 27 2013
The residents I speak to would have preferred that money to be spent on police officers, especially at a time when budgets are being cut.
They are happening though, the money has been spent, so I want the role to work and people to elect a police and crime commissioner that has shown they can work with local people and improve community safety.
As chairman of a residents' association, I work closely with the council and our police beat team to improve my area.
I understand how important it is that we have neighbourhood police teams that know their area and the community they serve. That can help solve problems, reduce crime rates and make residents feel safer.
The elected PCC will have to engage with and listen to communities, support policing needs and ensure input into shaping the police plan and budget.
Whoever is elected after today will not only have responsibility for the police budget, they're also being given budgets for youth offending, community safety and victim services.
To get the best services and the best results from this money, the new PCCs will have to work closely with other organisations – the probation and fire services, different parts of the NHS, councils, businesses and the voluntary sector.
They'll need to work in partnership to reduce re-offending, tackle domestic violence, challenge blights such as fly-tipping and graffiti, prevent crime and support victims.
So by now you would have figured out why I'm backing Sarah Russell as I firmly believe she has the skills, experience and values to make this role a success for the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Sarah has a proven track record. She can connect with people and has already shown she can work with people of all political persuasions and from a variety of professional backgrounds.
It's going to be a tough role with some very difficult decisions that will need to be taken, and Sarah's experience of making challenging budget decisions at the city council while protecting key services will be vital.
The first commissioner will shape how the role is done, so please think carefully, and make sure you vote – the polls don't close until 10pm.
Decisions are made by those who show up – make your voice count!
Hemant Bhatia is chairman of Bradgate Heights Residents' Association.