A CHAPTER in Gwent policing is to draw to a close this month after today’s police and crime commissioner elections.

The Gwent Police Authority is to officially come to an end on November 21 when it will hand over to the new police and crime commissioner – who Gwent voters will pick today.

Cilla Davies, chairwoman of the body since 2007, said her service on the body has been one of the best periods of her life.

She said the authority has had an exceptionally good team of members and said there were many things the authority could be proud of, such as how neighbourhood policing has helped in dealing with anti-social behaviour, improvements to child protection and work on domestic violence.

“We have increased the number of women in policing and women have opportunities to take key roles in policing, not only police officers but police staff,” she said.

She said the authority has been a critical friend of the force and has had a special relationship with its chief constables.

“I think we will be handing over a high performing force of very dedicated officers and staff who will take this force forward in a time of austerity,” said the chairwoman.

Mrs Davies said the force has had to find savings of £36.2 million – of which £25.9 million has been found.

“These cuts are not easy. It means people are going an extra 100 miles every day for Gwent out of sheer dedication and loyalty,” she said.

The chairwoman of the authority, who is a magistrate and a governor of the University of Wales, Newport, and has sat on the authority for 12 years, said she will be sad to see the organisation go. She said she thought the commissioner would have a “fabulous job” and said she was sure whoever was elected would enjoy it.

Low turnout predicted at polling stations

POLLS were opening at 7am today for Gwent’s first ever police and crime commissioner election.

Voters from across the region will be able to cast their first and second preferences in polling stations as diverse as a hairdressers in Ebbw Vale and a student union building at Newport.

Both Rebecca’s Hair Design at Tredegar Road, Ebbw Vale, and the Student Union at the University of Wales’ Caerleon Campus in Newport are among the around 470 polling stations that will be open until 10pm.

However there are predictions that turnout will be poor with the Electoral Reform Society predicting that there will be a turnout of just 18 per cent.

No counts will take place until tomorrow with the overall result for Gwent set to be announced in Newport’s Velodrome.

A new voting system will allow people to pick a second choice candidate as well as a first choice.

These extra votes will come into play if no candidate gets 50 per cent of the first choice votes.

If that happens a second round of counting will take place. Second preferences given on the votes of those who backed the third and fourth place candidates as their first choice will be added to the totals of the top two candidates.

● At least 25 schools will be acting as polling stations today.

In Blaenau Gwent seven schools will be fully closed, although only nurseries at Glanhowy in Tredegar and Abertillery’s Roseheyworth Millennium schools will be shut.

In Torfaen 17 schools will be closed.

A spokesman for Monmouthshire council said yesterday that Castle Park would be the only school closed in the county but the final decision was down to the individual school.

Newport council were yesterday unable to say how many schools would be closed.

A spokeswoman from Caerphilly County Borough Council said no schools there were shutting.