Independent is new West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner

By Connie Osborne Friday 16 November 2012 Updated: 20/11 10:32

INDEPENDENT candidate Bill Longmore has swept to victory after being elected as West Mercia's first ever Police and Crime Commissioner.

The former police officer beat rivals with 71,955 votes after two rounds of counting, having failed to pick up 50 per cent of the vote first time round.

During the campaign Mr Longmore, who spent 30 years with Staffordshire Police, promised to ensure local policing teams were properly resourced, tackle anti-social behaviour and improve the relationship between the police and partner organisations such as the council, community and voluntary sector.

He also pledged to monitor police numbers and challenge the Government on cuts which compromise the effective delivery of frontline policing.

Labour candidate Dr Simon Murphy was eliminated after the first round with only 34,652 votes.

When Dr Murphy's votes were redistributed to the other two candidates based on their second preference, Mr Longmore received over 21,000 votes compared to just 5,201 for Mr Blackshaw, leaving him with a final total of 54,499 votes.

Despite the fact Dr Murphy had come first in Redditch and Worcester, he failed to win support across the rest of Worcestershire and the majority of West Mercia.

In the borough, Dr Murphy received the most votes with 2,688 originally beating Mr Longmore by 150 votes. Mr Blackshaw came last with 2,242 votes.

In neighbouring Warwickshire independent candidate Ron Ball was also celebrating after being elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the county.

It has been hailed the worst turnout in the UK's history, something which was echoed in Redditch where only 7,824 people turned out.

Just 12.26 per cent of the eligible population cast their vote either in person or by post in Thursday's poll. The previous low for a full election was for the European Parliament in 1999 when 19.2 per cent of people bothered to vote.

At one polling station only about 100 ballot papers had been issued by 8pm as voters stayed away, with many claiming a lack of information about the three candidates and the election itself put them off. The decision to hold the poll in November when it is cold and dark was also a factor.

Sara Kenny summed up the mood on the Standard's Facebook page.

"I will not be voting as no candidates have been round my area canvassing. How do they expect votes if we don't know what we are voting for," she said.

"I agree it's terrible people died for my vote but if the candidates are going to be lazy and not push for the votes they can't expect people to put a cross in a box they know nothing about."

In neighbouring Stratford District turnout was slightly better but still poor at 17.94 per cent.

Nationally turnout is predicted as just 18.5 per cent, a record low. The Electoral Reform Society has described the election as a 'comedy of errors'.

Votes cast in Redditch were verified at the Town Hall last night before being escorted to Shrewsbury for counting as Shropshire Council is overseeing the election for the West Mercia area.

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