Former Cabinet Minister John Denham has declared Labours’ Jacqui Rayment as the “only credible candidate” in next month’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
The Labour MP for Southampton Itchen who was in Eastleigh on Sunday to help canvass support for Rayment said:
“She’s the only credible candidate standing in these elections, she has chaired the Police Authority, and she has been there at a time when crime has fallen.”
“She’s the only one prepared to stand up and say the government are cutting our police numbers too far and too fast and that’s going to put us all at risk”.
Rayment, currently Deputy Leader of Southampton Council, has been Chair of the Police Authority for the past six years. Despite being the only Labour member on the Authority, she claims to have had the support of all parties and says even Conservative members had voted to re-elect her.
During the same period the Police Authority saw the Police HQ relocation to Chandler’s Ford go sour as the property market nosedived leaving substantial capital tied up in a deserted building at Alpha Park while, at the same time, police stations were being closed. However Cllr Rayment had no doubt as to the root problem and was confident the right decisions had been taken:
“We had a 20% worth of cuts – That’s £53 million. Difficult decisions had to be made. The Chief Constable came forward with options – I took a pragmatic approach ensuring we had frontline police officers supported by excellent backroom staff – that meant closing some buildings.”
Eastleigh Labour supports were out in force in South Ward to help with canvassing. As well as John Denham, Richard Williams (Leader of Southampton City Council) and Chandlers Ford Parish Councillor Peter Luffman were also knocking on doors.
Eastleigh Residents have been on the receiving end of a recent upsurge in political activity in the borough. Saturday also saw local Conservatives stage an ‘Eastleigh Action Day’.
In addition to the PCC election on November 15 there are County elections in May and the possibility of a by-election should the town’s MP Chris Huhne be forced to stand down as a result of his forthcoming trial.
Despite the excitement among activists, signs are that the public do not share their enthusiasm and turnout for the PCC elections will be low.
John Denham – who described the whole concept of Police and Crime Commissioners as a “bad idea” accused the government of failing to promote interest in the elections and warned against voter apathy:
“The way the government has neglected to generate any interest to give the candidates any resources means that up and down the country all sorts of strange people might elected on the votes of a handful of voters. I hope here in Hampshire people will have the sense to say let’s have a credible candidate – lets have Jacqui Rayment”.
There are five other candidates standing:
Micheal Mates (Conservative)
Stephen West (Ukip)
Simon Hayes (Independent)
Don Jerrard (Justice and Anti-Corruption Party)
David Goodall (Lib Dem)