THE nation’s media will descend on Swindon tomorrow to witness history in the making as Wiltshire becomes the first force in the UK to announce its new police and crime commissioner.
PCCs are being brought in by the Government to replace police authorities in England and Wales, and will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and set the force’s budget and strategy.
The Wiltshire candidates are Labour’s Clare Moody, Conservative Angus Macpherson, Lib Dem Paul Batchelor, John Short for the UK Independence Party and independents Colin Skelton and Liam Silocks.
The Wiltshire winner will be the first of 41 new commissioners in England and Wales to be announced as it is the only county to start counting votes as soon as the polls close at 10pm.
A winner is expected in the early hours of Friday. The other areas will not start counting until daytime on Friday.
Sally Sprason, the electoral services manager at Swindon Council, which is running the countywide poll, said the national BBC and ITV News had asked to come to the main count centre, at the Oasis Leisure Centre, where the result would be announced.
She said: “We agreed to do it because we just have the two authorities to liaise between, whereas some police areas, like West Mercia have nine authorities so it becomes difficult for nine results from authorities to come together.We’re only liaising with Wiltshire.”
Turn-out is predicted to be low. The Government has sent out a leaflet to every home to drum up interest, but some areas of Swindon have not received a campaign leaflet from any candidate.
Ms Sprason said: “The Electoral Commission are assuming it’s going to be as it would be for an average local election – 30 per cent plus – but it just depends on the level of interest.”
The Conservatives need to hold the seat to maintain majority control of Swindon Council.
The candidates are Labour’s Phil Beaumont, Andrew Day for the Greens, John Lenton for UKIP, Cath Smith for the Lib Dems, and Steve Weisinger for the Conservatives.