'Very, very low turnout' in police election

2:20pm Thursday 15th November 2012

By Hardeep Matharu

Voting in the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner election has got off to a "very, very slow" start, with many residents saying they oppose the change or simply haven't been given enough information to make an informed choice.

Polling stations opened at 7am today and will stay open until 10pm to give residents their chance to select one of the six candidates jostling to be elected for a four-year term to oversee the work of Surrey Police and hold them to account.

The elected post will replace the Surrey Police Authority, which has been made up of councillors and independent members, and the candidates jostling for election are Kevin Hurley (Independent), Peter Williams (Independent), Julie Iles (Conservative), Nick O’ Shea (Lib Dem), Robert Shatwell (UKIP) and Robert Evans (Labour).

But a presiding officer at the polling station in The Epsom Playhouse, in Ashley Avenue, in Epsom town centre at 11am today, said hardly anyone had voted so far.

He said: "It’s been very, very slow. There have been less than 10 people voting per hour."

Just 11 people came to the polling station to vote during a 40 minute period, between 11.10am and 11.50am.

When asked whether they would be voting in the election, people in the town centre said the candidates had not been well-publicised and that they did not agree with the role of a police and crime commissioner in principle.

One Leatherhead resident said: "I’m not voting, I’ve got no interest in it. It’s costing millions to do it. It’s ridiculous.

"We don’t mind or care about policing as long as we are policed. Everyone I know and speak to is the same. I’d be surprised if anyone does come out and vote. I think the police are fine as they are."

Pam Plumtree said: "I haven’t taken an interest in it whatsoever. Nobody’s knocked on the door, I’ve seen nothing about it anywhere at all.

"I don’t know where or how to vote and I’ve always voted in the past."

A Cheam couple, who always vote in elections, said they would not be voting as they do not believe they can make an informed decision.

They said: "We’ve not had any notification at all, just polling cards. We don’t know who the candidates are so there’s no point in voting. There will not be a high turnout, it’s been mishandled."

Arthur Neal, from Epsom, said the police, not a politician, should be in charge of running Surrey Police.

He said: "I’ve voted, but I can’t see the point in it.

"I was a postal vote and when I posted it I had no idea who I was voting for. There was no information about the candidates until the next week in the Epsom Guardian. I doubt there will be a high turnout.

"You should let the police get on with what they’re doing. Why interfere? It’s only going to be another politician running it. Police should be run by the police. I voted for an ex-policeman."

Another resident agreed: "I’ve voted, because I’ve always voted, but I chose to deliberately avoid voting for a politician. I don’t think the turnout will be high.

"Nobody knows who, why, what, and I can’t see a reason for it. It’s a total waste of money."

An Ashtead resident added: "I think the police should run themselves - they know what they are doing. Someone who comes in with ideas doesn’t necessarily know how those ideas can run through.

"I’m not voting. They’re cutting back policeman - we need policeman out and about not somebody in an office getting a large sum of money, not knowing what they are doing."

Sonia Bedley-Moore, from Walton-on-the-Hill, said: "I am voting today so I’ll search online to take a look at the candidates before I go in. I haven’t had much information about the candidates.

"I don’t think there’ll be a high turnout - it’s an unusual day to have it. Everyone’s thinking about Christmas, not voting."

Information about polling stations in Epsom and Ewell can be found by visiting www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk.

Have you or will you be voting in the election today? What are your views on it? Email Hardeep Matharu on hmatharu@london.newsquest.co.uk or leave a comment below.

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