Independence is the way to go for police commissioner - former MP
FORMER Independent MP Martin Bell has urged voters to back Sue Mountstevens in tomorrow's Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner election.
Mr Bell, who visited Bristol last week, believes the new role is not suited to party politicians and urged voters to back the only Independent in the race.
"Party politics has become like an arthritic hand around the windpipe of democracy. I cannot think of a role less suited to a party politician than that of Police and Crime Commissioner," he said.
"The people of Avon and Somerset now have to make up their minds about who they want in charge of their local police force. The political parties have their candidates in the field, whose only qualification in some cases is their party loyalty.
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"I would urge all voters to consider the Independent option as a way of keeping our valued police services politically neutral and publicly accountable."
Mr Bell, who defeated Conservative MP Neil Hamilton in his Tatton constituency in 1997, was sharing a platform with Ms Mountstevens at an "Independents' Day" campaign event in Bristol.
Ms Mountstevens, a Bristol magistrate of 15 years, said: "I say to the people of Avon and Somerset: 'it is in your hands now'.
"Do you want a party politician as your PCC, someone who may not have the guts to shrug off funding promises or personal political ambition, someone who may not really want this job and whose loyalties may lie elsewhere.
"Do the other party political candidates have the hands-on approach to talk to people and really care about what they want, and do they have the intellectual rigour for what is a very strategic job?"
A spokesman for the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Bristol, on which Ms Mountstevens used to be a vice chair, said: "Sue is determined to ensure Avon and Somerset benefits from great policing.
"To do this, Sue believes it is critical to keep politics out of policing, thus protecting our residents and the police from political interference."
The new commissioner will replace the police authority in holding the constabulary to account and managing its budget.
The other candidates are Pete Levy (Lib Dem), John Savage (Labour) and Ken Maddock (Conservative).
Votes can be cast at local polling stations from 7am until 10pm.