'Normally there are 500… We've had 53 so far' - facing the 'rush' to vote in the police and crime commissioner elections...
Jonathan Brown finds a rare breed in Keighley – voters determined to rouse bored polling station clerks
Dr John Preshaw was leaving nothing to chance as he marched purposefully down the hill towards St Mark’s Church in Keighley to cast his vote in the election for West Yorkshire’s first police and crime commissioner.
The names of the two candidates he intended to vote for were written on the palm of his hand – just as a reminder, explained the retired GP.
“That says a lot doesn’t it? But this is my democratic duty,” he said. “I didn’t really want to vote. It is democracy gone to a disproportionate length. Should we vote for the boss of a nationalised industry? It seems a step too far and I am great believer in democracy,” he added.
Inside Dr Preshaw was rousing the three polling station clerks from a torpor brought on through lack of action. By late afternoon only 50 voters had turned out. It was the same story in the town centre at a local primary school where half a dozen polling station staff were also kicking their heels.
“We would normally have 500-600 but so far we have only had 53. People are voting for the party they would normally vote for,” said one official. “There is no getting away from the fact that it has not been publicised. Usually there are people waiting for us to open but we didn’t see a soul until 10am,” she added.
There is plenty to play for in West Yorkshire. The three main parties and an independent candidate – a retired detective inspector – are vying for the right to represent the 2.2 million people who live within the force’s 780 square miles of territory.
There are big decisions to make – how to find £96m of savings from the budget and not least who to replace the former chief constable Sir Norman Bettison who stepped down last month as the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigates his role in the police response to the Hillsborough tragedy.
But the outcome will most likely signal continuity rather than the dramatic change envisaged by the Prime Minister when he urged big local figures to come forward. Favourite to win is Labour’s Mark Burns-Williamson who until the election had been chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority.
At the polling booth beneath North Beck House, two clerks looked grim-faced. “We would expect a 70 per cent turn-out for the general election, half that for the council election. So far we have had 27 people so that is about 5 per cent,” said one.
Roger Watson, 61, a retired crash repairer, was about to become the 28th citizen to exercise his democratic right. “There has been a total lack of information. I live across the road and have just said to 12 people that they should go and vote. But they don’t know who is in it or what it is all about,” he said.
But he believed it was vital to get the right candidate. “They are going to be on £2,000 a week so you would hope you would get someone who can do the job,” he added.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
Syrian teenager Usaid Barho reveals how he escaped from Isis using a suicide vest
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
UK weather: 'Coldest night of the year' tonight as freezing temperatures plummet to -10C
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Douglas Carswell tells Ukip to stop blaming foreigners as youth poll shows Nigel Farage is even less popular than Nick Clegg
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...
£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...
£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...