Tomorrow (Thursday) the new Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott will take up the reins of office and his first job will be to slash his own salary.
He has decided to take £10,000 a year less, which drops his annual income to £75,000. He told the Times: “I am doing this as an acknowledgment of police funding pressures. As the new commissioner I should show some leadership on this issue.”
The full background to Mr Scott’s decision to cut the salary will be disclosed on Thursday although the Times understands the £10,000 will go to local charities. Voters in both Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells headed to the polls to choose their representative as Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent last week in what turned out to be a surprisingly close-run election.
Second preference votes had to be taken into account after the UKIP candidate Henry Bolton came within 15,000 votes of Conservative Matthew Scott in the first round.
The two candidates were vying to replace former Independent PCC Ann Barnes, whose tenure in office had frequently courted controversy. However, the Tory party managed to consolidate its grasp on the county after Mr Scott, a former Parliamentary manager, won in the second round, securing a total of 104,558 first and second preference votes.
After the second round Mr Bolton, who served in the Army for 21 years before working in the police force, slipped a little further behind with 87,978 votes in total.
In his victory speech in Dover, Mr Scott praised the ‘positive’ tone of the campaign and suggested co-operation with some of his opponents was up for consideration.
He said: “It ha been an honour and a privilege to be elected Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner. I promise I will do my best by all Kent residents, whether they voted or they didn’t and no matter who they voted for.”
He added: “I will do all I can to support victims of crime, cut crime and make sure all parts of Kent feel valued.
“I want to encourage people to engage with the office of Police Crime Commissioner and I will work together with some of the other candidates on the issues which matter.”
He then went on to thank each of his opponents by name for focusing on policy and not on personality during the campaign. However, it was noticeable that he omitted the name of the controversial English Democrat party candidate Steve Uncles.
Mr Scott said: “I pay tribute to Henry, Tristan [Osborne, Lab], David [Naghi, Lib-Dem] and Gurvinder [Sandher, Ind] for making this a campaign about issues and not about people and their backgrounds.”
Mr Bolton said he was ‘very grateful’ for those who had supported his campaign and insisted that the voters had sent a ‘clear message’ that they were ‘concerned’ with the Government’s policies on policing.
He added: “I hope the Government listens clearly to that message.”
Although turnout in the county was among the lowest in England at just 20.98 per cent, Tunbridge Wells recorded the highest level of voter participation in the county at 32.2 per cent, 0.1 per cent ahead of Maidstone.
Tonbridge, which did not have local elections that day, recorded a turnout of 20.0 per cent, making it the fourth highest out of the 13 local authorities which participated.
First Round Result
CANDIDATE: Scott, Matthew Richard, Conservative
FIRST PREFERENCE: 88,396
CANDIDATE: Bolton, Henry, UK Independence Party (UKIP)
FIRST PREFERENCE: 73,299
UKIP MOBILISES TO DOMINATE FORMER LABOUR STRONGHOLDS
The relatively close result reflected a county divided, with voters in North and East Kent showing far greater enthusiasm for UKIP that their counterparts in the rest of the county.
UKIP candidate Henry Bolton came first in Medway, Shepway, Thanet and Swale and came a close second in Dartford, Dover and Ashford where he just lost out to Conservative candidate Matthew Scott.
Mr Scott stormed to victory in the more affluent parts of West Kent, winning double the votes of his UKIP opponent in Tunbridge Wells, 10,569 against 4,522, and Tonbridge, 8,214 against 4,239.
Labour’s eclipse in Kent was highlighted by the fact their candidate Tristan Osborne failed to come first in any part of the county and was in second place only in Gravesham.
In total Mr Osborne won 50,978 votes to come third – ahead of independent candidate Gurvinder Sandher on 26,221, who himself pushed the Liberal Democrats’ David Naghi into fourth place on 19,601.
The extreme right English Democrat candidate Steve Uncles came a distant fifth with just 8,311 votes, securing less than five per cent of the total votes required to retain his £5,000 deposit.
SUSSEX RETURNS TORIES
In neighbouring Sussex, Conservative Katy Bourne was re-elected to the role of Police Crime Commissioner with 139,335 votes in the second round, seeing off second-placed Labour candidate Michael Jones, who secured 86,392 votes. Turnout in the county was 22.54 per cent.