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Not Independents' Day as heavyweights make light work in return of political PCC status quo
09 May 2016

<b><i>At the double: Staffordshire PCC <br>Matthew Ellis celebrates <br>retaining his post with <br>deputy PCC Sue Arnold</b></i>
At the double: Staffordshire PCC
Matthew Ellis celebrates
retaining his post with
deputy PCC Sue Arnold
The political mighty crushed the minnows in spectacular fashion as the public showed signs of warming to the idea of policing overlords in the 2016 elections for police and crime commissioners (PCCs). 

In England the Tories gained four new PCCs while Labour bucked its recent poor electoral standing with three additional victories — all at the expense of the Independents. 

And with Plaid Cymru finally 'coming to the party' with its first successes in the PCC polls since the inception of policing's new ruling structure — Independent candidates saw their representation implode from a dozen in 2012 to just three after the Wales counted its votes on Sunday (May 9). 

Turnout for the polls doubled in West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Merseyside and Staffordshire, which only managed a dismal 11 per cent at the inaugural polls. 

But the voters took an entirely different stance to their 2012 approach on choice of candidate as the people had the luxury of local government, mayoral and Welsh assembly elections being held at the same time. 

The upturn of voting patterns was in sharp contrast to six areas — Bedfordshire, Cleveland, Durham, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire — where no other polling took place on Thursday (May 5). 

No turnout was better than 23 per cent there and Durham finished bottom of the whole league table with 17.4 per cent of electoral votes cast, up just three per cent on 2012. 

But Staffordshire Tory PCC Matthew Ellis, who increased his majority in retaining his post for a "business as usual" second term, said critics of the Government's whole policing doctrine should look more kindly on time frames for development. 

He told Police Professional: "We've had parliaments for 140 years, councils for 110 years and PCCs for just 40 months." 

Encouraged by his own turnout increase which pushed the electoral attendance from 11.6 per cent to 21.1 per cent, he enthused: "I believe the public are still getting used to the idea and need more time." 

The final election tally of the 40 police areas sees the Tories with 20 seats, four up on the party's final total in 2012 — and all in England. 

In contrast Labour, with two wins announced from Wales in the Gwent and South Wales areas, now has 15 PCCs, a net gain of three. Independents slid dramatically from 12 seats of power in 2012 to just three after the 2016 election results. 

The 'Independence-for-Wales-from-the-UK party — Plaid Cymru — bagged two victories in Wales, David Llyweln gaining Dyfed-Powys from Tory incumbent Christopher Salmon and Arfon Jones triumphed in North Wales, taking a seat where Independent Winston Roddick did not seek re-election. 

Before polling day Tony Hogg, the first PCC for Devon and Cornwall, quit the Conservative party because of the lack of publicity for the elections, which he said werre undemocratic. More than £3 million was spent on promoting the November 2012 elections. 

This year the budget has been decimated to £2,700. Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill, one of three Independents re-elected — the other two Sue Mountstevens (Avon and Somerset) and Martin Surl (Gloucestershire) — had pre-warned that the 'free spirit' police and crime commissioners would be reduced to three or four in number because the Government refused to advertise the elections. 

He stood on a platform of keeping "politics out of policing", saying party machines disadvantage Independent candidates. 

And he was right as the Tories in England took out two Independent PCCs in Ann Barnes (Kent) and Kevin Hurley (Surrey) who had hit the national headlines during their tenure in office as well as five more representing Hampshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Warwickshire and West Mercia. 

The prediction of Warwickshire Independent PCC Ron Ball who stood down at the 2016 election also proved prophetic. 

He feared local elections being held on the same day as the PCC polls would suit the big political players. And he watched his seat go to Tory Philip Seccombe with Labour's Jule Jackson trailing in second. 

There was a solitary Conservative gain from Labour in Bedfordshire where Olly Martins parted company with his electorate but Jeremy Corbyn's party had ample revenge with three Tory scalps in Cheshire, Humberside and Leicestershire. 

Like his favourite football team — Leicester City FC — who produced possibly the biggest upset in sporting history to lift the 2015/16 Premier title this week, Labour's Lord Willy Bach produced a stunning result to oust the Conservatives in its rural heartland of Leicestershire. 

The Labour peer and former Shadow Attorney General polled nearly 20,000 votes more than Neil Bannister who was attempting to replace fellow Conservative and current PCC Sir Clive Loader. Lord Bach said: "This week began with my beloved football team winning the Premier League, and ended with me being elected to this post. 

"It has been very special. There won't be many weeks like this." 

In Humberside, Keith Hunter achieved what former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott couldn't do — get elected. Lord Prescott, who went on the campaign trail for Mr Hunter in the run-up to this week's polls, missed out in 2012 to Tory candidate Matthew Grove despite securing more votes in the first preference round. 

But Mr Hunter was able to extract a degree of revenge on Mr Grove in 2016 with a massive overall majority of 24,353 on the incumbent PCC. 

Comfortable winners included Labour's David Jamieson in the West Midlands and his metro ally Jane Kennedy in Merseyside with Greater Manchester not involved as it is waiting for a new mayoral model. 

Under-fire South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Dr Alan Billings also passed the test of public opinion — with flying colours. 

The Labour PCC candidate held on to his job despite a series of controversies over the Hillsborough disaster, the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal and calls for an inquiry into the 'Battle of Orgreave'. 

As polling day approached, families of the Hillsborough victims called on him to resign for “failing to hold the force to account” over the way it conducted the latest inquests into the catastrophe which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool football fans. But he answered those critics with 144,978 votes — five times more than his next challenger, Conservative Ian Walker on 29,904 votes. 

Sitting PCCs have fared well with 18 of their number living to fight another day in the policing equivalent of a state-enrolled oligarch. 

The survivors until 2020 are spread fairly evenly among that group with nine Labour, six Conservatives and three Independents. They are: Sue Mountstevens (Ind, Avon and Somerset), Barry Coppinger (Lab, Cleveland), Martyn Underhill (Ind, Dorset), Ron Hogg (Lab, Durham), Martin Surl, (Ind, Gloucestershire), Jane Kennedy (Lab, Merseyside), Julia Mulligan (Tory, North Yorkshire), Vera Baird (Lab, Northumbria), Paddy Tipping (Lab, Nottinghamshire), Alun Michael (South Wales), Alan Billings (Lab, South Yorkshire), Matthew Ellis (Tory, Staffordshire), Tim Passmore (Tory, Suffolk), Katy Bourne (Tory, Sussex), Anthony Stansfeld (Tory, Thames Valley), David Jamieson (Lab, West Midlands), Mark Burns-Williamson (Lab, West Yorkshire) and Angus Macpherson (Tory, Wiltshire).

But a further seven PCCs failed to win themselves a second term to 2020.

Three Independents - Simon Hayes (Hampshire and Isle of Wight), Stephen Bett (Norfolk and Kevin Hurley (Surrey), - and three Tories - John Dwyer (Cheshire), Christopher Salmon (Dyfed-Powys) and Matthew Grove (Humberside) - plus Labour's Olly Martins (Bedfordshire) were incumbent casualties.
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