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Monday, 22 December 2014

Police chief agrees to work with town

CUMBRIA has a new police and crime commissioner.

Former headmaster and Barrow magistrate Richard Rhodes, from Staveley, was named Cumbria’s first ever police and crime commissioner yesterday.

The election count took place in Kendal after voters went to the polls on Thursday.

The winning Conservative candidate polled 25,408 votes after the two counts, with Labour’s Patrick Leonard finishing second with 20,370 votes.

Mr Rhodes said he wanted to share his experience and talents with the people of Cumbria, and he was looking forward to working with the police.

He said his first priority was to sort out the situation regarding suspended temporary chief constable Stuart Hyde – who was suspended amid concerns about his “management style” – and he would also be encouraging the public to come to him with concerns and give more support to victims of crime.

Turnout in Barrow was amongst the lowest in the country, with only 4,464 people (8.37 per cent) turning out.

South Lakeland had the highest turnout in Cumbria and one of the highest in the country, with 23.78 per cent (19,789) voting.

The figure for Copeland was 14.21 per cent (7,838 votes) and the average turnout for Cumbria was 16.38 per cent.

With turnout in Barrow especially low, Mr Rhodes agreed that he had to work to connect with the people of the town.

He said: “I have already had a conversation with the deputy leader of Barrow Borough Council (Councillor Brendan Sweeney), inviting me to go speak to them.

“I do know Barrow, of course, from my time there as a magistrate and I have some affection for the place.”

Commissioners were elected across England and Wales to replace police authorities.

They will have powers to hire and fire chief constables, and to set policing priorities and force budgets.

Mr Rhodes will begin work on Thursday.

In the first round of voting, Independent candidate Mary Robinson narrowly missed out on making it through to the final count by 56 votes.

Mr Rhodes polled 18,080 votes and Dr Leonard achieved 15,301. Lib Dem candidate Pru Jupe polled 13,623. The second choice of voters that opted for the two losing candidates was taken into account in the second round.

In total, 64,263 votes were cast however 2,014 of these were considered to be spoiled.

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