Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fosse Division Community Forum - 22 November

Last Thursday evening, despite the wind and rain, I attended the quarterly meeting of the Fosse Division Community Forum, held in Wolvey. Also attending from the parish council were Councillor Stephen White and the clerk, Margaret Cartwright.

The meeting received a presentation from the Rugby Rural North Safer Neighbourhood Team on local issues they've been involved in during the past few months, along with a report back on the three local policing priorities identified at the last meeting. None of these related to Shilton/Barnacle area.

However, in identifying the local priorities for the next three months, Stephen White referred to concerns regarding speeding traffic in Leicester Road, Shilton. This had been a matter that a local resident had recently contacted the parish council about, and it was therefore put forward as a matter that deserved extra attention. Fortunately, the forum agreed to adopt this as one of the three local priorities, and therefore the local Safer Neighbourhood Team will be visible during the next three months seeking to slow speeding traffic entering the village along Leicester Road. The on-going work the police are doing on this issue can be viewed here.

The forum then received two of its regular updates: from Leigh Hunt from Warwickshire County Council on the superfast broadband project, and from Anna Rose from Rugby Borough Council on planning issues and developments. A number of briefing notes were circulated with information on matters on interest, including the progress on a gypsy and traveller site allocations development plan, quality control monitoring of the highways maintenance teams, and the Warwickshire Director of Public Health's 2012 annual report (the video at the bottom of this post is of Dr John Linnane introducing his report).

The next meeting of the Fosse Division Community Forum will be on Thursday 14 March from 7.00pm at the Village Hall in Monks Kirby.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Police & Crime Commissioner Election Results

The election of Warwickshire's first Police & Crime Commissioner may not have gripped the county to the extent that I hoped it would, but on Thursday, 66,085 voters chose between three candidates in a poll to determine who would have responsibility for setting the objectives and budget for the county's police service for the next four years.

The turnout for the election was a pitiful 15.6% (which was in line with the national average), and electors got to pick their first and second preferences for the post. If no candidate got more than 50% first preference votes, the second preferences of the candidate finishing third were re-allocated.

The results were:

First Round
1. James Plaskitt (Labour) - 22,308 (34.7%)
2. Ron Ball (Independent) - 21,410 (33.3%)
3. Fraser Pithie (Conservative) - 20,571 (32.0%) - eliminated

Second Round
1. Ron Ball (Independent) - 33,231 (56.9%) - elected
2. James Plaskitt (Labour) - 25,200 (43.1%)

It's fair to say that it was something of a surprise to see Ron Ball winning, although he turned out to be one of 12 independent candidates elected to the 41 Police & Crime Commissioner positions throughout England and Wales, and there may be something in the idea that the public preferred individuals who weren't aligned to a political party.

Two things strike me about the results though. Firstly, how close the first round was, with each candidate broadly getting a third of the vote each. If just 420 of Ron Ball's 21,000+ voters had chosen Fraser Pithie instead, then the eventual winner himself would've been knocked out in the first round.

Secondly, of the 14,713 electors who voted for Fraser Pithie first and expressed a second preference vote as well, 80% chose Ron Ball with that second preference. And that's what did it for James Plaskitt, for despite topping the poll in the first round (albeit by a fairly slim margin), he was unable to secure the second preference votes that this particular electoral system requires you to. I wonder if, in May 2016 when elections for the commissioner post are next held, we'll see candidates make more of a pitch for the second, as well as first, preference votes?

As Commissioner Ball takes up his new position, I've linked to his election manifesto to see what he's pledging to do in the role.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Police & Crime Commissioner Candidate Hustings

There's little more than four days to go now until the elections for Warwickshire's first Police & Crime Commissioner. I've never hidden the fact that I think this new post is a really positive development, replacing the anonymous (and some might say ineffective) Warwickshire Police Authority with an individual tasked with ensuring that policing in Warwickshire is better aligned with what the public wants from its police service.

Despite frequent doom-mongers talking about the politicisation of the police, abysmal turnout and a lack of public engagement, I've heard more public discussion and scrutiny regarding local policing in the last six weeks than I've heard in the last six years of the police authority's existence.

Voting takes place on Thursday, and if you haven't decided who to vote for, have a look at the websites of the candidates Ron Ball (Independent), Fraser Pithie (Conservative) and James Plaskitt (Labour).

You might also like to watch a 'Question Time' type event held last week in Stratford-upon-Avon and shown on the internet TV station Stratford TV. Questions were invited from the public, and I was pleased to see that the question I submitted was asked to the candidates (see 19 minutes 15 seconds into the programme).

Video streaming by Ustream
The following day, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire broadcast another candidates' debate, which can be heard here.

Hopefully these can help you make up your mind who to vote for on Thursday!