Tory police commissioner candidate stands down

THE Conservative candidate hoping to be Cambridgeshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner has stood down due to pressure from the county’s rank and file party members.

Retired Air Commodore John Pye, was not a member of the party although the national Tory body agreed to him becoming a candidate without the need to join as a paid-up member.

“Unfortunately, some within the local Conservative Party were uncomfortable with the basis on which I am prepared to stand,” Mr Pye said in a statement released by Conservative Campaign Headquarters yesterday (Thursday, August 30).

“I therefore feel that it would not be fair to them or the public to continue as the Conservative candidate.”

Mr Pye said he was stepping down to “avoid further disruption to the local Party”.

He spent more than 30 years with the Royal Air Force and reached the rank of Air Commodore before working at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge for a decade.

He served on the Cambridgeshire Police Authority as an independent member since 2009 and said he was “committed to reducing crime and preserving the operational independence of the police”.

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“The election is about choosing who is best to govern our policing to serve the whole community,” he said shortly after his selection.

In his surprise victory in a ballot of Conservative Party members Mr Pye beat Sir Graham Bright and former county council leader Shona Johnstone.

In this afternoon’s statement Mr Pye said: “I was encouraged to put my name forward as a potential Conservative candidate because of my commitment, skills and understanding of local policing.

“My values are Conservative but I am not a politician. I believe firmly that the governance of policing must be impartial and non-political.

“I also do not consider that I could convince the public of my impartial stance if I was a member of a political party – and that has been borne out in many of my conversations with local people.”

At present it is unknown who will replace him but work is under way to select a candidate with the previously defeated hopefuls set to be invited back for selection.

“The local area are beginning the process for selecting the candidate and that should be completed within the next couple of weeks - hopefully next week,” a national party spokesman said.