Quiet day at Somerset polling stations for police and crime commissioner elections
Electoral staff in Somerset are reporting a quiet day at the polls as the county gets the chance to vote for its first Police and Crime Commissioner.
Residents were able to vote from 7am this morning, and polling stations will remain open until 10pm tonight.
But early indications suggest there is a lack of interest in choosing the new £85,000-a-year PCC, who will be in charge of overseeing policing in the county.
It was very quiet at the polling station in St Thomas Church Hall, Wells, this morning with just a minority of voters turning up to cast their vote.
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There were expected to be similar scenes at other stations across the county.
In North Somerset, one angry pensioner deliberately spoilt her ballot paper in protest at the lack of information given to North Somerset voters.
Retired Portishead teacher Viv Kew, aged 71, said: “I spoilt my ballot paper rather than not vote by putting a cross against all four candidates.”
Electoral staff at The Folk Hall, Portishead, confirmed that a number of would-be voters had called in on Thursday morning to complain that they had not received any polling cards or leaflets from the candidates.
Young mum Laura Bowman, aged 33, also turned up at The Folk Hall, with Oscar, three, and baby Elsie, five months, to say she wasn’t voting either because of lack of information.
Mrs Bowman, who lives at the Marina, said the potentially poor turnout would mean her job counting votes later this evening shouldn’t take too long.
While voting was ‘slow but steady’ at The Folk Hall, other North Somerset polling stations reported a dismal early morning turnout.
Voters were so thin on the ground at 1pm at The Campus, Weston-super-Mare that it was impossible to get a picture of anyone going in.
In Nailsea only 60 people had voted at Golden Valley Primary School polling station during the first four hours and less than 80 had cast their vote at Princes Hall, Clevedon before midday.
But the stalwarts who did maintained it was their ‘democratic right’ to vote.
The four voters Local People spoke to at the Nailsea Park primary school were all retired.
Jennifer Dahms said: “People should make an effort to vote.”
And Gillian and Richard Haggerty agreed.
Mrs Haggerty said: “Voting rights were long fought for and should be used.”
Mr Haggerty said: “You can’t complain about things if you don’t use your vote – it is a democratic right.”
Betty Carey said: “I vote at every election and I believe everyone should.”
Clevedon voters David and Pat Cousins who celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary this week both agreed that voting for a police commissioner was a good idea.
David said: “It is a good thing to have someone completely independent – an outsider.”
The new £85,000-a-year PCC will have wide ranging powers over policing and the criminal justice system in Somerset - including a mandate to hire or fire chief constables.
PCCs will also set the force's priorities and oversee its budget.
Results are expected to be announced tomorrow, and the new PCC will begin his or her new role on Thursday, November 22.
The four candidates for Avon and Somerset are Pete Levy (Liberal Democrat), Ken Maddock (Conservative), Sue Mountstevens (Independent) and John Savage (Labour).
MEET THE CANDIDATES
View the video below to see an online advert about the new Police and Crime Commissioner roles.