Derbyshire's first PCC Alan Charles slams £1m cost of electoral process
DERBYSHIRE'S first police and crime commissioner has slammed the £1 million electoral process that saw him voted in as "shameful".
Alan Charles said one of the main reasons just 14.75% of eligible voters turned out in the county was because people disagreed with the commissioner role in the first place.
Mr Charles – who beat Simon Spencer, Rod Hutton and David Gale to the £75,000-a-year position – said the Government should have given the public more information before Thursday's election.
Mr Charles said: "I think the low turnout is extremely disappointing and the way the election has been organised has been shameful."
But after election results yesterday declared him the winner with 57,248 votes his first pledge in his new post was not to privatise any aspect of policing in Derbyshire.
In total, more than 115,000 votes were cast.
The first round saw Labour's Alan Charles receive 50,028, Simon Spencer 27,690, David Gale 18,097 and Rod Hutton received 17,093 votes.
Using the process called the alternative vote, this meant that Mr Gale and Mr Hutton were eliminated.
Voters were given a second-choice option on the ballot papers and those were then taken into account for people who voted for the bottom two in the first round.
The second count yesterday, between Mr Charles and Mr Spencer, saw the Labour candidate receive a further 7,220 votes and the Tory candidate an additional 8,779.
This meant Mr Charles pooled 57,248 votes compared to Mr Spencer's 36,469.
Turnout in Derbyshire was 14.75 per cent. Nationally, it was 15% and as low as 11% in some districts.
Mr Charles said: "I think the low turnout is extremely disappointing. Having said that, I and all of the candidates did not arrange how this election was run.
"We put ourselves forward for people to vote for and I cannot do anything about the low turnout except to say I will do everything in my power to see how things can be improved for the next election in 2016.
"I think the way in which the elections have been organised has been shameful."
"On the last day of the election I spoke to hundreds of people and the message that came back to me was that they knew nothing about the candidates and what each stood for.
"I think there are two main reasons for the low turnout. One, the people never agreed with the introduction of a PCC in the first place and, two, there was such little information given out about it."
Mr Spencer, a Conservative, said he was disappointed to lose but was the first to congratulate Mr Charles.
He said: "I'm really, really disappointed at the low turnout and I think a lot more could have been done to make people aware of how police forces currently operate, what the role of the police authority was, why there was a need for a change in that.
"I think if people had understood more, they would have engaged in the whole process.
"I would have liked to have seen the PCC role being advertised and broadcast at least six months ago so that people would have had a better understanding of what the change was all about and why it was needed."
Mr Gale left Alfreton Leisure Centre after the first round of votes were announced. He said: "The whole election has been a dog's breakfast in terms of how it's been organised by the Government.
"The message I have been getting from talking to voters is that people have been pretty much clueless about what they are voting for.
"The Government sent a leaflet about the election to every household in the UK. Why they could not put some information on those leaflets about each of the candidates beggars belief."
Mr Hutton's votes meant that he received the 5% required so he did not lose his £5,000 deposit, which was required of all the candidates.
He said: "The way the election has been organised has been nothing short of abysmal.
"While I was campaigning, if I heard once I heard a thousand times people saying to me, I don't have enough information and to me that is just ridiculous.
"Even on the day of election I received hundreds of e-mails from people who were undecided about how to vote, which gave me a glimmer of hope that people were turning away from politics and the colour of the rosette they would normally wear, but that hasn't happened."
In Staffordshire, Conservative Matthew Ellis beat his Labour rival Joy Garner, winning 51,237 votes to his opponent's 47,589.