Published: November 15, 2012
Police and Crime Commisioner Election: We speak to the candidates

Residents across the Burnham-On-Sea area will be going to the polls today (Thursday) to elect a new Police and Crime Commissioner. Ahead of the big day, has spoken to the candidates...

Ken Maddock (Conservative)

What impact will the new police commissioner have on the lives of residents in the Burnham-On-Sea area?

The Commissioner will be the voice of local people on policing and the wider criminal justice system. It is important that the people’s priorities are the Police’s priorities. The Police are there to serve and protect local people whilst they go about their daily lives and this must be at the forefront of everything they do. The buck stops with the Commissioner. The new role will make the Police accountable to local people.

I have been out and about across Avon and Somerset, including Burnham, listening to local people to see what they think and what action they want to see taken.

What changes, if any, would you like to introduce in your role in the Burnham-On-Sea area?

I want to make life better for everyone across Avon and Somerset. That means tackling the day to day issues that make people feel unsafe in their own homes or frustrated that nothing is done. Anti-social behaviour, drugs, noisy neighbours, graffiti and mindless vandalism.

I want to see ordinary local people taking control on what happens in their street or local community. It is wrong for anybody to feel scared to leave their house for fear of gangs. Or too scared to approach someone in the street for fear of attack.

As the Police and Crime Commissioner I want people to feel and be safer.

What do you see as the main priorities for police in the Burnham-On-Sea area?

I want to carry on the success that the Police are having in Burnham-On-Sea. I will make sure that the Police’s resources are focussed on the front line, reducing crime. However, there are a couple of serious issues that need to be tackled head on. These are late night anti-social behaviour and drug dealing.

Over the last six months I have met with night club owners to see how they can help tackle anti-social behaviour, using technology to act as a deterrent and to help the Police prosecute. I have also welcomed the new powers given to local councils by the government such as restricting the sale of alcohol between midnight and 6am in certain areas.

Drugs blight our local communities. I will work with the Police to make sure we tackle this problem head on as we cannot let the drug dealers, who make profits from people’s misery, take over our town. I am also keen to work with local rehab charities to make sure addicts get the support they need to get off drugs.

Why should residents in Burnham vote for you rather than one of the other candidates?

I will not dodge the tough decisions. I will show leadership. I will cut crime. I will make local communities safer.

Our dedicated Police Officers across Avon and Somerset are doing a great job in tough circumstances. I want to make their job easier by focussing the Police’s resources on the frontline tackling and reducing crime. Too much time and money is wasted on red tape and bureaucracy and this must stop.

My main aim as the Commissioner will be to cut crime and to work with local people and communities to make sure that fewer young people feel the need to turn to crime. But where crimes are committed I want to see criminals punished for the crimes they commit, to pay their debt back to society. But I also want to teach them new skills so that they can improve themselves and their lives. I want to see criminals going straight when they leave prison, not going straight back to crime.

Pete Levy (Liberal Democrat)

What impact will the new police commissioner have on the lives of residents in the Burnham-On-Sea area?

Burnham-On-Sea is as important as anywhere else, it should expect the same relative level of commitment and policing as an area such as Bristol for example.

In essence I maintain that the role of the PCC is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account. They will be responsible for overseeing the work of Avon and Somerset Police on behalf of residents. PCCs will not be expected to run the police. The Chief Constable will remain responsible for day-to-day operational matters. So I would expect that in some form or another (additional lines of communications and resident groups to be released over the next few days) local residents and neighbourhood groups will feel as if they are being listened to and involved in the conversations regarding their own policing concerns and needs.

The office of the PCC will provide stronger and more transparent accountability of the police, PCCs will be elected by the public to hold chief constables and the force to account; effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve. this will be fed back to communities to ensure that there is a degree of confidence in the process.

They will set local policing priorities and decide how your council tax is spent on crime and policing issues. By 'local' this is taking all areas into account. I'm aware of the huge gap between certain areas of policing between rural and urban in our area but that can be broken down even more when considering areas such as Burnham-On-Sea. I would expect residents to feel confident that their concerns are considered.

Police and Crime Commissioners will ensure community needs are met as effectively as possible, and will improve local relationships through building confidence and restoring trust. They will also work in partnership across a range of agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime. It's important that residents know what's going on in their own community and that's not just a police responsibility but also local authorities and community groups.

What changes, if any, would you like to introduce in your role in the Burnham-On-Sea area?

Not sure I can honestly answer that properly until in post and have had a chance to consult with as wide and inclusive a group of residents, local officials and community groups as possible. However, there are some changes across the board that I will be announcing - all of these will be around better contact between the PCC's office, residents and the Police. I would like to see more autonomy devolved out to District level to ensure that we keep a more local perspective. I also have a view regarding the number and effectiveness of residents and community groups. I think that in a lot of areas there are a huge number of community minded groups and individuals who work extremely hard but sometimes their efforts are diluted. I would want to conduct a mapping excersie to ascertain what groups we have, who is involved and then whether it would be more or less effective to form collaborations.

What do you see as the main priorities for police in the Burnham-On-Sea area?

Crime figures across the UK, across Avon and Somerset Police area as well as a nearly 20% fall in crime types such as burglaries in Burnham-On-Sea give a good oversight of how effective Police and other agencies are being. The main priority is to keep those falling figures down and look at the other remaining issues that are of most concern. My feedback at the moment is that there's an element of low level crime types such as speeding (supermarket car parks as well as on the road), anti social behavior especially late at night, drugs use and related crime also appears to be a significant issue here. I would join residents in their calls to maintain pressure on this by the police. By refering to these as 'low level' I'm not underestimating their impact on the lives of residents but merely indicating that they are ongoing and in some instances falling below the radar. I also believe that education and prevention are extremely powerful tools in the ongoing fight against drug related crime and will be looking at what local measures are already in place or what measures can be provided.

I also think it will be important to create and retain an element of continuity regarding points of contact, Police Officers and PCSO's and I'll be working hard with the Chief Constable, his team and the local authorities that we do all we can to support this. Resident surveys that I've carried out across the region indicate a huge level of support for more visible policing. Residents peace of mind and confidence in their safety and that of their community is vital and for that reason I wouldn't consider cutting any resources that help provide this level of confidence. I also think that maintaining an ongoing and two way dialogue with all local media outlets will be useful to keep a view on developments within the community that all make prevention a better approach.

Why should residents in Burnham vote for you rather than one of the other candidates?

I have policing experience, I am from Somerset and having served with the Police Authority I am aware of how crucial local knowledge and experience is. I would want to engage with local residents and community groups as they know their own area in much more detail than I would unless I lived there. Burnham-On-Sea is a beautiful part of the country with what looks like a very active and committed community. The extremely sad events of the last few months gave a great indication of the loyalty and togetherness of the community and that must be recognized and harnessed.

Sue Mountstevens (Independent)

"I am standing as the only independent candidate. The police are independent and impartial and so should the Police and Crime Commissioner. I will protect the police and residents from being kicked about like a political football. I will listen to your views and be your voice.

No one from London or Whitehall will be telling me what our priorities should be. Only an independent can be free to deliver policing for the residents of Burnham-On-Sea. I will reduce crime by targeting persistent offenders, supporting neighbourhood teams and improving technology.

The police need flexibility to work with local communities so that they deliver your priorities. You tell me your concerns are anti social behaviour. This affects your daily lives and will play a major part in the Police and Crime Plan which will be set in consultation with residents. You will see a difference. I will be coming out to your communities, one day a week, if elected where you can make your views known and I will be your voice at all levels of police decision making.

I will be a fierce advocate on behalf of victims and make Victim-focused policing a
reality. I will ensure there is a fair allocation of resources. Your money will be spent efficiently, effectively and wisely.

Crime is coming down and detections are increasing in Burnham on Sea. So let us continue with the innovative schemes such as Site Watch and Pub Watch which are delivering results.

By protecting and strengthening the Neighbourhood Policing Teams, community policing will continue to successfully prevent crime and bring offenders to justice. The Chief Constable will continue to manage all operational issues but together we can make you safe and feel safe in Burnham on Sea."

John Savage (Labour)

"I believe the British Police Service is the best in the world. It stands, together with our education and health services, as an essential part of a civilised society. As your Police and Crime Commissioner my first priority would always be to ensure that you can live in safety and that your homes and possessions are protected.

My priorities will be:-
•I will work tirelessly for a closer relationship between the needs and desires of the public and the work of the police.
•Oppose any further reductions of front-line policing and fight for a fairer allocation of funds.
•Build on the success of neighbourhood policing and ensure victims of crime have a voice at the heart of policing.
•Develop a long-term, strategic vision for policing in Avon and Somerset that meets the needs of the public throughout the forces area.

I have over 40 years of business experience working in senior roles in the public and private sectors and have held responsibility for annual budgets in excess of £1 billion. I have a track record of success in delivering change and improvement in large organisations including the Learning and Skills Council, the Regional Development Agency and, latterly, as Chairman of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust.

These are difficult times. More is expected of our police while budgets are cut. There are no easy answers but I will ensure the police service prioritises neighbourhood policing over privatisation and that the service really listens to the public it serves.

Given my commitment to the service and the experience to be able to make a difference I believe I am the right person for this important role. It will be an honour to have your support."


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