Bristol Police and Crime Commissioner to fight cuts, violence and anti-social behaviour
SUE Mountstevens says her priorities as Avon and Somerset’s first police and crime commissioner will be to target anti-social behaviour, burglary and violence against women and girls.
The independent candidate and magistrate recorded a landslide election victory, defeating her closest rival and favourite Ken Maddock by almost 60,000 votes.
In her acceptance speech, the married mother-of-three from North Somerset promised to fight government cuts and “listen to the quiet voices” before formulating the police force’s priorities.
The Justice of the Peace became the second independent candidate to sweep to power in the area following the election of George Ferguson as Bristol’s first ever elected mayor a few hours earlier on Friday.
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Mrs Mountstevens, 57, who was a director of her family’s bakery business for more than 20 years, believed she prospered as an independent candidate as politics had no place in policing.
She said: “No one wanted party politics – they do not mix with policing. That’s why independents are winning.”
Mrs Mountstevens denied that the low turn-out in the election reduced the legitimacy of her role as police and crime commissioner (PCC) and also pledged to fight Government cuts to police force budgets.
She said: “This is a very serious job and I have to get on with it. I’ve had an enormous amount of support.
“As long as we have no further government budget cuts, I think we can manage. I will fight strenuously against any further cuts.”
Mrs Mountstevens, who also saw off competition from Lib Dem Pete Levy and Labour candidate John Savage as well as Tory Mr Maddock, said she had the experience required for the role, which will replace the now-defunct police authority. She now has the power to set the force’s budget and hold the chief constable to account.
The newly-elected PCC pointed to her experience working on the independent monitoring board at Bristol Prison and said that, as an independent, she had the freedom to “deliver great policing” for the area.
She promised to listen carefully to those “who don’t normally shout” before forming her strategy for the force.
Mrs Mountstevens, who lives near Pill, said: “You have to listen carefully – to residents, in community centres and in parish halls.”
Voters went to the polls to choose Avon and Somerset police’s first PCC on Thursday, as electors across the country cast their votes for commissioners in 40 other force areas.
But turnout was low, with just 19.58 per cent of the electorate turning out to polling booths in Avon and Somerset. The best turnout (27.48 per cent) came in Bristol, where voters were also choosing the city’s elected mayor. Turnout in North Somerset (16.01 per cent) and Bath and North East Somerset (15.95 per cent) was among the poorest in the force area, while a slightly better turnout of 18.26 per cent was recorded in South Gloucestershire.
After months of canvassing and public debates, the first indication that Mrs Mountstevens would sweep to power as the area’s PCC came as results were announced district- by-district at the count at the University of the West of England’s Exhibition and Conference Centre.
First to declare were Sedgemoor and Mendip councils, where Mrs Mountstevens opened up a gap of 1,500 votes on her closet rival, Mr Maddock. She was also the most popular candidate in South Gloucestershire, Taunton Deane, North Somerset and most overwhelmingly in Bristol, where she picked up 30,227 votes, almost 20,000 more than her Tory opponent.
Following the count of first-choice votes, leading candidate Mrs Mountstevens went head-to-head with Mr Maddock as no single candidate had secured 50 per cent or more of the vote.
Second-preference votes were counted within two hours and Mrs Mountstevens broke into a broad smile as she was declared the victor by 125,704 votes to 67,842. Mr Savage was third with 49,989 votes, while Mr Levy finished fourth, polling 43,446.
Addressing the conference hall after her victory, Mrs Mountstevens said she was “looking forward to the challenge” of the job and added that she wanted “all our residents to be safe and feel safe”.
For many years she was a director of the well-known local family business Mountstevens Bakeries, which opened its first shop in Bristol in 1911 and had more than 90 outlets across the South West, employing around 1,300 people.
She has been a magistrate in Bristol for the past 15 years, serving on adult, youth and family cases, and has also been an independent member of the Avon and Somerset Police Authority. Mrs Mountstevens begins her four-year term on November 22 after she has taken the oath of impartiality. She praised the campaign team that had started from scratch two months ago and delivered a resounding victory.
Mrs Mountstevens said: “We had no team eight or nine weeks ago.
“There was myself and my campaign manager and I roped in family, friends and have been overwhelmed with people who have emailed offering to help.
“There was nothing scientific about our approach – we just thought we had a message to get across.”
All three unsuccessful candidates congratulated Mrs Mountstevens on her election triumph.
Mr Maddock, a 68-year-old former leader of Somerset County Council, said: “This job can be so good for all of us, if it’s done really well. That’s something I passionately believe in. I’m sorry I didn’t catch the public’s imagination in the way my opponent did. I want to wish the successful candidate the best of luck in this important job.”