THE EDITOR'S CHAIR: Elections for Police Commissioner are pointless
HAS there ever been a more pointless set of elections than the ones facing the electorate in November?
If you didn’t know (and it’s no badge of shame to be ignorant of this) on November 15 we get to vote for Gwent’s first Police and Crime Commissioner.
All other police force areas across England and Wales will also be electing PCCs.
So who will you be choosing between if (and it’s a big ‘if’ as these elections are likely to result in incredibly low turnouts) you decide to cast your vote?
Well, with the exception of a few independents they are likely to be politicians, as most of the main parties are fielding candidates.
And in my experience, putting politicians in charge of anything is never a good idea.
What powers will a PCC have? They’ll set the force budget and precept (the percentage of your council tax that pays for the police) and they’ll set a police and crime plan and hold the chief constable to account for delivering it.
Most worrying of all, they’ll have the power to hire and fire the chief constable.
Despite PCCs having to swear an oath of impartiality, we run the risk of having police forces run by political dogma rather than public need.
PCCs are the brainchild of the Tories, although the government has seemed utterly uninterested in the idea since coming to power.
Supporters of these elections (and I haven’t met many of them) say they are needed because current police authorities are unaccountable and if you took a photograph of a local police authority chairman into the street most people would not know who they are.
So there we have it. Millions will be spent at a time of austerity on elections that hardly anyone seems to know about or want because the people currently running our police forces aren’t famous enough.
There won’t be a U-turn on these elections, however, and we’ll cover them as we do with all elections – fairly and impartially, explaining the issues and the positions of all candidates to our readers.
But I can’t believe that having a Police and Crime Commissioner is a major priority for most ordinary people.
It’s a pointless political wheeze.
And we will all be paying for it.
No boxing clever with breakfast
LIFE as an editor is not all glamour, you know.
I spent the first three days of this week in Oxford on a company digital media training course.
Please try to contain your excitement.
There’s no five-star luxury for these events. It took place at the offices of the Oxford Mail and I stayed in a Travelodge. In a motorway services area.
Even better than the picturesque setting were the breakfast arrangements.
At check-in the receptionist cheerily reminded me I had booked breakfast for my two-night stay.
Then came the killer line – would I like my breakfasts (yes, both of them) now? Pardon? It was 5.30pm. Breakfast, it turns out, came in a box containing what may well have been orange juice, a bowl containing both cornflakes and milk, a croissant and a muffin.
That’s in a box and handed to guests several hours in advance of actual breakfast time.
Torch team runs into the hundreds
THE other highlight of my Travelodge stay was that it was the sleepover point for the Olympic torch relay support teams as the relay went through Oxfordshire.
There are literally hundreds of these people, all in their branded outfits with branded suitcases and cars.
But I’m sure it’s all fantastic value for money.