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Police elections 'most expensive in history'

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 20, 2012

Former MP Alun Michael won the South Wales Police commissioner election

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THE elections for police commissioners have been labelled the most expensive in history after just one-in-seven people voted.

The poll for the powerful new jobs cost around £75 million to hold — which works out at just over £14 per voter.

The cash is coming from the Home Office budget — at a time when police forces are having their funding cut by 20 per cent.

Professor Anthony King from Essex University, said: "Per vote, the police commissioner elections were almost certainly the most expensive in history."

Former MP Alun Michael won the South Wales Police commissioner election, polling 66,879 votes.

The Labour candidate was short of a majority, meaning he went into a count of second preferences with the runner-up, former policeman and independent candidate Mike Baker before emerging victorious.

The turnout across the force was 15.2 per cent, though that figure varied considerable between local authority areas — in Swansea it was 12.8 per cent, while across Neath and Port Talbot it was 16.2 per cent.

Some 4,456 votes were rejected across the force because the ballot papers were spoiled, or it was not clear which candidate had been voted for.

Neath Port Talbot had 134 polling stations open on the day, manned by 315 council staff and another 120 were used to count votes, while across the city and county of Swansea there were 149 polling stations, and some 370 council staff were involved in polling and counts on Thursday and Friday.

In Dyfed-Powys Police, Conservative Christopher Salmon polled 32,887 votes in the election, beating his only rival — former AM and Labour candidate Christine Gwyther — by 1,114

However, nearly 3,000 votes were rejected as spoiled or unclearly marked — almost three times the winner's majority.

Turnout in the biggest geographic force in Wales and England was 16.4 per cent, but Carmarthenshire saw a higher turnout at 17.4 per cent.

Professor Richard Wyn Jones, director of the Wales governance centre at Cardiff University, said: "You can only classify these elections as a monumental embarrassment. Fifteen percent turnout is genuinely awful."

He added: "I have a great deal of sympathy for the successful candidates who are trying to talk up their role, but the problem is that every time they same anything from now on it's going to be pointed out rather rapidly that they're not speaking really for anybody."

Every force in Wales and England outside London elected a commissioner to replace the existing police authorities — commissioners will control force budgets, set policing priorities and have the power to fire and fire chief constables.

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  • mw0cnd  |  November 20 2012, 4:16PM

    William could not agree! More nu- labour in Tory cloths. People expected better but got the same old rubbish and waste of money polices from the champagne part time socialists .

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  • williamwaun  |  November 20 2012, 4:07PM

    The most expensive thing in history is when Labour was in power, they crippled our country and the young will be paying for the rest of their lives.

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  • mw0cnd  |  November 20 2012, 3:51PM

    I agree that this was a total waste of money! funny that we don't hear the raised comments of the anti-welsh language brigade complaining about this waste of public money or no silly me that's only when money is spent on the welsh language or just to moan at the welsh assembly that's when they come out to play the quietness from these people is deafening when it comes to money that's really wasted from their fatherland of a parliament in London? Funny that don't you think ;)

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