Bell rings on fight to become first Police and Crime Commissioner

LABOUR and Conservative candidates fighting to become the first Police and Crime Commissioners in Herts and Cambs have been revealed.

The Labour Party will fight on a platform of opposition to police service cuts, labelling government- led efficiencies as an “unprecedented attack on the police and community safety”.

Stevenage Borough councillor Sherma Batson will face the November ballot in Hertfordshire and Cllr Ed Murphy is standing in Cambridgeshire.

Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman MP, said: “Police budgets have been cut by 20 per cent with over 1,000 police officers across the East of England set to go.

“The Tory-led government should be trying to fight crime and support the police. Instead they are cutting police officers and don’t have a proper plan to cut crime.”

Police and Crime Commissioners will replace existing police authorities and will be able to appoint and sack chief constables, set local policing priorities and policing budgets for the county. They will be paid roughly �70,000 a year for the role.

Conservative candidates for the two counties have not been announced with an open vote set to decide who will stand.

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Anyone can register to choose the party’s representative with a husting in Letchworth scheduled to take place on July 9 for the Herts hopefuls.

The list has been whittled down to three with current police authority chairman David Lloyd awaiting the party’s vote along with GP Rachel Frosh and former RAF officer Paul Richardson.

In Cambs county councillor Shona Johnson will face off against former MP Sir Graham Bright and former RAF officer John Pye.

Royston’s MP, Oliver Heald, said the Herts candidates are “committed to high visibility policing” and singled out Mr Lloyd’s “good track record” with the police authority.

Mr Heald hit out at the Labour Party hopefuls’ anti-cuts agenda as he does not believe the election should be a forum for party politics.

“The point is not to politicise policing, the point is to set priorities for the county and to make sure the police deliver a good service, I think it is not suitable for party politics,” he told The Crow.

“The fact is our country needs to get out of the financial situation left by Labour and in order to do this we need to look after the country’s finances.”

The Liberal Democrats are internally selecting a candidate in Hertfordshire but will not field one in Cambs.

The elections will take place on November 15 although questions have been asked on the cost of the elections, expected to be around �2m for two counties.