IT’S not every day a cabinet minister comes to Fylde.

But, as she did on her last visit to the area last year, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – also the chairman of the Conservative party – brought with her bright sunshine, ensuring a very warm welcome.

The Baroness was in town to support local boy, Tim Ashton, as he bids to become the inaugural Police and Crime Commissioner of Lancashire.

Myself and local party members helped the pair host a street stall on crime and justice issues, giving members of the public the opportunity to chat to Tim and Sayeeda about the crime issues that concern them.

I recognise this is a newspaper and not a party political broadcast so I won’t go on about the reasons you should “Vote Tim” on November 15.

I do want to talk a little bit, however, about the reason for the visit – the Police and Crime Commissioner election.

With the polls just three months away I feel the importance of these elections have been somewhat underplayed in the media and on the television.

The Commissioner post, creates one accountable individual, making him or her responsible for the entire police department across the county.

They are charged with bringing the police and the public closer together by listening and learning and responding to the public’s wishes.

They will set budgets, create crime plans, ensure costs are kept in check and will also be responsible for hiring and, in extreme circumstances, firing, Chief Constables.

I’m sure that won’t be necessary in Lancashire.

Some people will ask: ‘What is wrong with the current system?’ in which Police Authorities, groups usually made up of councillors, JP’s and members of the public, are responsible for holding the police to account.

The answer, of course, is that, while Police Authority’s do a good job, it is vital to have someone who is accountable to the public for the police’ performance.

It will help to drive up standards because ultimately, if the Commissioner cannot get the police force to perform well and serve the public, they too will be out on their ear come election time.

I’m sure many people will welcome that prospect because, ultimately, it empowers you, the public in a democratic way.

That’s why I urge you to exercise your democratic right on November 15th.

Get out and vote and tell the candidates what you want to see.

This is an excellent chance to have your say on policing.


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