Polling for police chief at Nailsea
By Carol_Deacon | Thursday, November 15, 2012, 15:14
An angry pensioner deliberately spoilt her police commissioner ballot paper in protest at the lack of information given to North Somerset voters.
No voters waiting to go in at The Campus, Weston-super-Mare
Defending their democratic rights from left Jennifer Dahms, Gillian and Richard Haggerty and Betty Carey outside Golden Valley Primary School polling station
Retired teacher Viv Kew, of Portishead, spoilt her ballot paper on purpose as an act of protest. Viv used to work at Four Oaks Infant School
Retired Portishead teacher Viv Kew, aged 71, said: "I spoilt my ballot paper rather than not vote by putting a cross against all four candidates."
Outside of London, Thursday, November 15, is the first time local people can vote for the newly-created post of Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner.
Known as a PCC the person elected today will be responsible for setting priorities for the police force, overseeing its budget and hiring the chief constable and could command a salary of up to £100,000pa.
However, by noon on polling day it looked as if the people of North Somerset weren't particularly interested.
Electoral staff at The Folk Hall, Portishead, confirmed that a number of would-be voters had called in on Thursday morning to complain that they had not received any polling cards or leaflets from the candidates.
Young mum Laura Bowman, aged 33, also turned up at The Folk Hall, with Oscar, three, and baby Elsie, five months, to say she wasn't voting either because of lack of information.
Mrs Bowman who lives at the Marina said the potentially poor turnout would mean her job counting votes later this evening shouldn't take too long.
While voting was 'slow but steady' at The Folk Hall other North Somerset polling stations reported a dismal early morning turnout.
Voters were so thin on the ground at 1pm The Campus, Weston-super-Mare that it was impossible to get a picture of anyone going in.
Electoral staff said 'it has been really quiet so far' and joked 'we are expecting coach loads of voters any minute'.
In Nailsea only 60 people had voted at Golden Valley Primary School polling station during the first four hours and less than 80 had cast their vote at Princes Hall, Clevedon before midday.
But the stalwarts who did maintained it was their 'democratic right' to vote.
The four voters Local People spoke to at the Nailsea Park primary school were all retired.
Jennifer Dahms said: "People should make an effort to vote."
And Gillian and Richard Haggerty agreed.
Mrs Haggerty said: "Voting rights were long fought for and should be used."
Mr Haggerty said: "You can't complain about things if you don't use your vote – it is a democratic right."
Betty Carey said: "I vote at every election and I believe everyone should."
Clevedon voters David and Pat Cousins who celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary this week both agreed that voting for a police commissioner was a good idea.
David said: "It is a good thing to have someone completely independent – an outsider."
Nailsea mum Vikki Jones posted on a social network site: "No school run for the primary age ones today as its voting day for the police commissioner's job.
"Does anyone else in North Somerset have a clue who to vote for?
"Not had one leaflet or any information about who is standing, so it's close my eyes and choose then.
"How do we know who the best man or woman is for the job is?
"Surely that's for the police to choose."
And her friend and former North Somerset Council election candidate Suzanne Griffiths Osborne agreed.
She said: "I've not had any literature either, so how can you make a choice?"
North Somerset Partnership People and Communities Board did organise a question and answer session at Weston-super-Mare and college students also got the opportunity to grill the candidates at another hustings.
Students grilled the candidates on police numbers, stop-and-search, sentencing, drugs,anti-social behaviour, and the value of the Commissioner in relation to the salary and the cost of the election itself among many other topics.
With all 138 polling stations open in North Somerset all manned by at least three people the cost is expected to run into hundreds of thousands for this area alone.
The four people standing are:
- Pete Levy - Liberal Democrat
- Ken Maddock - Conservative
- Sue Mountstevens - Independent
- John Savage - Labour