Tony Hogg named Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner
By KEITH ROSSITER Political Reporter, the Herald.
A NAVY veteran sailed to victory in the first Police Commissioner elections in Devon and Cornwall.
Tony Hogg, the Conservative candidate, took 69,419 votes, easily beating his rival Brian Greenslade, a Liberal Democrat who stood as an independent.
Mr Greenslade took 37,243 votes in total.
Counting went on late into the night, in spite of a miserly 15.15 per cent turnout across the peninsula.
Plymouth voters were the least enthusiastic in the force area, with just 23,619, or 13.03per cent, casting their ballot.
The vote was on the second preference system, with each voter getting two choices.
Mr Hogg led the first ballot with 55,257 votes to Mr Greenslade's 24,719, but pulled ahead in the second round of counting.
Plymouth Labour councillor Nicky Williams came third with 24,196. She and the rest of the ten-strong field was knocked out after the first round.
Mr Hogg and Mr Greenslade went into a second round head-to-head round at the peninsula count centre at Pool, near Redruth.
But Plymouth publican Tam Macpherson (Ind) came last with 4,306 votes, losing his deposit.
The first-round result was a triumph for Mr Greenslade, a long-serving Lib Dem who stood as an independent in this election.
He beat the official Lib Dem candidate, Brian Blake, who is from Yealmpton, outside Plymouth. Mr Blake came fourth on 23,948 votes.
The total number of ballot papers verified was 196,987. A combination of protest votes and confusion over the new second preference system meant that 6,339 ballot papers were rejected in the first round.
Mr Hogg, a Royal Navy veteran and former commanding officer at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall becomes Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner next Thursday.
He played down the low turnout. "We know the arguments – this is a pioneering role and the first time we have done this," he said.
"I don't think people will have been made aware early enough of the benefits and the candidates, and the election was held in mid-November.
"It is up to us to show that we can make a difference over the next three and a half years.
"I am sure that next time round we will have greater public interest.
"I am sure that all the candidates would wish it to be a higher turnout." But he defended the mandate, saying "a lot of people will have voted for the winning candidate".
"It's up to us to show the public the value of the post."
He said the police faced challenges and he would support them in those challenges.
Nicky Williams said afterwards that she was very pleased to come so close.
"Labour's turnout has been consistent, but the Conservative turnout has fallen dramatically.
"This is a role nobody wants and the public had made clear that they don't want the police force privatised."
She is a member of the Police Panel which will monitor the work of the Commissioner, and she promised: "I will keep the Commissioner under scrutiny and make sure he delivers."
Alison Seabeck, the Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, called for a debate in Parliament about the election.
She said: "I spent election day knocking on doors and there were two issues that people had.
"They said they'd had little information on the candidates. They weren't going to go out and put their names on a piece of paper when they don't know what they are voting for."
She said people also questioned the need for a Police Commissioner. The election would be a waste of money at a time when police numbers are being cut.
"People felt disenfranchised by this process.
"You have to ask what on earth was the Government thinking?"
Mr Greenslade, the former Lib Dem leader of Devon County Council, stood as an independent.
"Many of us predicted a low turnout," he said.
"We warned the Government time and again that this election was flawed and that the public did not want it.
"A lot of people think the whole thing was bonkers."
Mr Greenslade said the Prime Minister's attempt earlier in the day to blame the media for the low turnout was "the stupidest statement to make".
Devon and Cornwall was the last of 41 police authorities in the country to declare a result, with the first count taking nearly nine hours.
Weary candidates and their supporters were repeatedly given a time for the result, only for their hopes to be dashed.
Kevin Lavery, the Cornwall Council chief executive, who was the returning officer, put the blame on other local authority areas.
Ballot papers were checked against voting registers in each of the 12 local authority areas immediately after the polls closed on Thursday night.
The boxes of ballots were then delivered to Carn Brea to be counted.
Mr Lavery said: "The verification process in a couple of areas has not been up to the robust standards we would expect."
First round result
Anthony Hogg (Con) 55,257
Brian Greenslade (Ind) 24,719
Nicky Williams (Lab) 24,196
Brian Blake (Lib Dem) 23,948
Robert Smith (UKIP) 16,433
Ivan Jordan (Ind) 12,382
William Morris (10,586)
John Smith (10,171)
Graham Calderwood (Ind) 8,667
Tam Macpherson (Ind) 4,306
Total votes: 196,987
Rejected papers 6,339
Turnout 15.15per cent
Second round result
Anthony Hogg 14,162
Brian Greenslade 12,524
Spoilt ballot papers 17,897
Anthony Hogg 69,419
Brian Greenslade 37,243
Tony Hogg, the new new Police Commissioner, said the first job would be to boost police morale and public respect.
"The existing Police Authority staff have worked very hard to produce a comprehensive briefing for the new Commissioner.
"It is important to have ideas of your own, but to understand that there is a lot to learn, and to go in and listen.
"But time is short. All this has to happen in a matter of weeks so the Policing Plan can be produced for the start of the next financial year.
"The headline challenge in Devon and Cornwall is funding.
"But underlying that is a challenge about how police feel about themselves. Morale is low.
"If we are to have an effect, first we need to boost morale.
"That doesn't imply that the Commissioner won't have a challenging role, but it's very important to address morale and respect for the police and I see these as significant enablers for everything else.
Mr Hogg was Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose, where he managed 3,000 personnel and a budget of £90million.
His 33-year naval career included five ship commands including HMS Chatham based at Devonport. He saw active service in the Falklands War and the Arabian Gulf, and was awarded the Air Force Cross for his role in a 1978 air sea rescue in 1978.
Since leaving the Navy, he has run a charity offering adventure activities, including behavioural support to Cornwall's "hardest-to-reach" young people.