Wales polls: Plaid Cymru 'first among equals' after score draw on PCC winners' podium
08 May 2016
Plaid Cymru got its police and crime commissioner (PCC) representation bandwagon rolling with a double victory in the Welsh polls.
Ex-police inspector Arfon Jones
takes North Wales for Plaid
Dafydd Llywelyn beat the incumbent Tory PCC Christopher Salmon in Dyfed-Powys and his colleague Arfon Jones won comfortably in North Wales, where Independent Winston Roddick did not seek re-election.
The wins were a big turn-round for Plaid as the party which advocates Welsh independence from the UK did not put up any candidates in the first PCC elections in 2012.
Labour made sure it wasn't left behind, tasting victory twice to make it a two-all draw in national terms — and the party Plaid polled 100,000 more first round votes (328,113 to Plaid's 228,334).
Jeff Cuthbert gained a seat for Labour in Gwent, replacing Independent Ian Johnston who stood down while South Wales incumbent Alun Michael registered a thumping victory with nearly 70 per cent in the second round voting.
All four contests went to a count of second preference votes, after no candidate won at least half of the first round votes.
Plaid leader Leanne Wood said her party had "secured strong results" in all four force areas.
"Whilst each of the other main parties in the assembly lost ground, more and more people voted for Plaid Cymru because they trust us to always stand up for Wales and do what is right for our communities," she added.
And Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones was quick to praise Mr Cuthbert and Mr Michael for their "superb victories".
"I know they will be brilliant representatives for their areas and they will work hard to keep their communities safe and secure," he said.
Holding the polls on the same day as the Welsh Assembly election last Thursday (May 5) brought its reward with a huge boost in turnout — up more than threefold from the figures of about 14-16 per cent in each of the four force areas in 2012.
Almost half the voters came out in Dyfed-Powys with a turnout of 49.1 per cent (187,517 voters), North Wales was next with 43.78 per cent (213,056), followed by South Wales on 42.5 per cent (394,990) and Gwent on 38.3 per cent (165,774).
This compared with turnouts in England — where some areas were not even holding local government elections — where the figures ranged from 33.2 per cent in West Yorkshire to 17.4 per cent in Durham.
Although turnouts in Wales were higher, returning officers reported large numbers of spoilt or blank ballot papers.
Monmouth MP David Davies said there had been "widespread confusion" about the use of the second preference vote, with many people wrongly assuming it was mandatory.
And victorious South Wales candidate Mr Michael, who secured 68 per cent of the second round vote with a 108,000 winning margin, called on Home Secretary Theresa May to intervene in another issue which caused consternation.
He argued: "The message that comes across quite strongly, from the number of spoiled or blank ballots, is that people don't have enough information.
"It is time for the Home Secretary to back down in her refusal to allow candidates in the PCC elections to have free postage to the public."
He added that the election was "undermined by candidates not being funded for postage or electioneering leaflets".
He said: "The government has made no investment in making this work. There is no money for postage or leaflets.
"There are a lot of spoiled ballots and you can see by comments on them how some people felt "There were comments like 'not enough information' and 'I don't know what this is about'.
"You cannot personally get to the 1.3 million voters, however rigorously you knock on doors," added Mr Michael, who polled 204,874 second round votes against Tory runner-up Tim Davies on 96,060.
The first preference vote result in South Wales had been a closer run thing between Mr Davies and Plaid Cymru candidate Linet Purcell who just missed out making it through to the second round, polling 29 fewer votes than her Conservative rival.
Mr Michael said he was "very pleased to have secured over double the votes of my nearest rival" and he saw the results as "an endorsement of the positive policies on policing and community safety that have come out of the first three years of this role".
Mr Cuthbert, Labour's successful candidate in Gwent, was just three per cent short of a winning margin in the first round.
In the second vote run-off with Tory Louise Brown, he polled 96,030 votes (61.6 per cent) against Ms Brown's 59,931.
Outgoing Gwent Independent PCC Ian Johnston, who decided not to stand for re-election, congratulated his successor: “It has been a huge privilege and an honour to serve the people of Gwent as Commissioner.
“The decision not to stand for a second term was a difficult one for me to make but I am confident that I am leaving behind a force which is in very good shape in the capable hands of Chief Constable Farrar.
"This is reflected in how the force has been continually praised by inspectors for the improvements it has made over the last two years. I would like to wish Jeff Cuthbert all the best for the next four years."
Dyfed-Powys' election was probably the tightest contest of the four in Wales. Plaid's winning candidate Dafydd Llywelyn, who previously worked for the Dyfed-Powys force, took 52,469 first round votes (28 per cent), followed by incumbent PCC Christopher Salmon on 37,093 (25 per cent) and Labour's Kevin Madge on 34,799 (18.6 per cent), UKIP's Des Parkinson 20,870 (11.1 per cent) and Liberal Democrat Richard Church 20,725 (11 per cent).
After the second round vote, which saw Mr Llywelyn ease past Mr Salmon on 56-44 per cent basis, the new PCC called his election victory an "honour and a privilege". "It's a police service that I served for 13-and-a-half years as its head of intelligence analysis, and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead as the new police commissioner for the force," he said.
Congratulating his successor, Mr Salmon said: "Securing a second term was always going to be hard, this was a tough fight. "I am privileged to have worked with many dedicated officers and staff who are so committed to their duty, I hope people will feel that I have done mine."
A former North Wales Police inspector and Wrexham politician has been elected as the new PCC for his old force area.
Plaid Cymru’s Owain Arfon Jones has been sworn in as North Wales PCC after beating Labour’s David James Taylor by 25,364 votes in the second round vote-off.
Mr Jones said he was "totally overwhelmed" by the support he had received.
"I'm very grateful to the people of North Wales who voted and supported me, on both the first and second preferences," he said.
Mr Jones, who worked for 30 years as both a uniformed and plain clothes officer, and represents Gwersyllt as a county councillor said he was “overjoyed” with the result and margin of his win.
Following the victory, announced at Coleg Cambria in Connah’s Quay, he told the Daily Post: “I am overjoyed and humbled by the size of the vote.”
Mr Jones won with a total of 90,228 first and second preference votes ahead of Mr Taylor who received a combined total of 64,864 votes.
The new PCC has pledged that his first priority will be to review policing across North Wales, claiming around 60 per cent of work could be done by other agencies, Mr Jones also wants to give all frontline police officers body cams to improve evidence gathering and secure more convictions.
But he said he has not decided yet if he will remain in his role as county councillor following the win.
Mr Jones and Mr Taylor were left to fight it out after three other candidates were knocked out following the results of the first preference vote.
Plaid Cymru candidate Mr Jones came out on top of the first preference vote with 67,179 while Mr Taylor received 54,892 votes. Conservative candidate Matt Wright failed to make it through with 42,005 votes, as well as UKIP’s Simon Wall who received 25,943 votes.
Receiving the fewest first preference votes was Independent candidate Julian Sandham with 23,487 votes.