Paul 4 Police

November 2, 2012 8:07 PM

Paul VarnsverryThe Chronicle & Echo webchat, which took place between 11am and 12.30pm on Friday, attracted around 50 logged-in participants plus an unknown number of observers.

Paul Varnsverry provided direct answers to the questions and easily established himself as the most qualified candidate to become PCC.

The full article written by John Harrison and published by the Chronicle is reproduced below

The four men hoping to become Northamptonshire's Police and Crime Commissioner were quizzed today in an online webchat.

The elections hopefuls - John Norrie, independent, Jim MacArthur, UKIP, Adam Simmonds, Conservative, and Paul Varnsverry, Liberal Democrat - answered questions on the Chron's website on a range of subjects about the election, their policies and their personal lives.

The candidates were asked about why Labour Party voters should vote for them after Lee Barron was forced to admit this week that an arrest in 1990 meant he could not take the job.

Mr Norrie said: "I have always said this job should not be voted along party lines and people should select the candidate based on relevant experience and skills and not just on which party they represent. "

Mr Simmonds said: "Lee demonstrated so much passion for things he cared and cares about. I believe I have the same passion to make Northamptonshire safer."

They were then quizzed about warnings the election turnout could be as low as 18 per cent.

Mr Macarthur added: "I am worried about voter apathy but at he end of the day the new PCC will still be elected. The important thing is that whoever becomes PCC will act and conduct himself in a manner acceptable to the community."

Mr Varnsverry said: "It will be the conduct of the successful candidate, once in office, that creates their mandate through the way in which they engage with and involve the people of Northamptonshire in setting policing policy."

Asked about whether there was any potential merger with other forces, Mr Simmonds said: "I understand mergers are out of the question at the moment but there is lots of scope to embrace some sort of integration, not just the back office, but in terms of fleet management and call centres."

Mr Varnsverry added: "I opposed a merger when it was proposed several years ago. For me, a county force, held accountable by the people of the county is a fundamental part of policing by consent."

Asked about continuing police performance, Mr MacArthur said: "I absolutely agree with you about the great improvements to ours service under (Chief Constable) Adrian Lee. However, I think much more work has to be done in engaging local communities and indeed individuals."

Mr Simmonds added: "We are still doing badly in two areas; violent crime which rose by 5.5 per cent last year and drug trafficking which is almost as bad as London."

Questions were also put to Mr Varnsverry about his business affairs, having run into financial difficulties several years ago.

In response, he said: "The rules on eligibility and disqualifications for standing for this office do not prohibit me from doing so. As I said earlier, I took a moral and responsible step to ensure those to whom money was owed were paid. The arrangement concludes in January."

Mr Simmonds also responded to questions about the nature of his departure from Northamptonshire County Council, where he was an assistant director.

He said: "I had a three month notice period, so if someone wanted to get rid of me or I wanted to leave both sides needed to allow the other three months notice. Because I went for this role, my neutral council role was going to be difficult to hold.

"So because I owed the council three months notice and they would owe me three months notice before terminating my contract we agreed I would leave immediately and I would get my three months salary. This was taxed. There was no pay-off, just money I had already earned but upfront."

Candidates were finally quizzed on how many police officers they want to see in the force by 2013.

Mr Norrie said: "I will do all in my power to ensure that that number does not reduce. I have already made it clear that visible front line policing must remain at, at least, current strength."

Mr MacArthur added: "I can't say exactly how many more officers I will be able to get on the street but I promise you it will be substantially more than we have now."