It’s a crime to pay £75,000 for this when bobbies are being axed

So there you have it. A ringing endorsement for Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Not.

Less than 12 per cent of voters in the county could be bothered to take part in the poll – the lowest turnout in all 41 police force areas across England and Wales.

In Stoke-on-Trent that figure fell to less than 10 per cent.

Hardly a mandate for change, is it?

So why the apathy for the election of someone whom, it is claimed, has the potential to shape policing in our localities?

Well the narrow winner in this blue versus red beauty contest, Matthew Ellis, blames the Government.

Funny that, coming from a Tory.

Yes, the 45-year-old former businessman reckons November isn’t a good time to hold elections and bemoans the fact that every household wasn’t given information about the election.

All of which is rubbish, of course.

I dare say the turnout figures would have been equally poor in October.

By the same token, you would have to have stayed off the internet, avoided newspapers, the TV and the radio for several months and not know a child whose school was closed for polling to claim ignorance of these elections.

No, I suspect there are other reasons for the low turnout.

First and foremost, they perhaps have more to do with the fact that the new Police and Crime Commissioners are viewed by many a complete and utter waste of time and money.

It’s yet another example of tinkering around the edges of a system that is creaking through basic, chronic under-funding.

They are a sticking plaster for a gaping wound: A political construct to give a veneer of accountability and a smokescreen for the savage public sector cuts.

They are also a slap in the face for 30-year bobbies who are being pensioned off when they still have much to offer the force and the general public.

Given that our usual turnout levels at local election time are around 30 per cent this result speaks volumes for what people who can usually be bothered to vote think about the new high-profile role.

Mr Ellis, who I don’t know from Adam, will receive £75,000 a year for the privilege of telling the Chief Constable how to do his job. Spin it how you like, but that’s what is happening here.

Personally, at a time when experienced bobbies are being jettisoned, I’d rather use this money to keep two and a bit police officers in post. At least theirs is a real job.

Call me old-fashioned but I would have thought Mr Ellis’s opponent, Labour councillor Joy Garner, would have wanted that too.

Mr Ellis seems like a nice bloke who is devoting himself to public service – just like councillor Garner.

However, the truth is neither of them have much experience in the way of crime-fighting – in the same way that I wouldn’t be much use to The Avengers if Captain America came calling.

I would suggest the fact that there were only two candidates – both from mainstream parties – did nothing to inspire people to vote, either.

For me, policing – at its most basic level – should be apolitical.

Police forces should be, certainly, and so the idea of a Labour or Conservative politician adding his or her party’s baggage to the mix doesn’t fill me with confidence.

For people in the Potteries and Newcastle-under-Lyme, who did bother to vote but not for Mr Ellis, the situation is even more galling.

Of course, he’s currently saying the things he thinks people want to hear: More bobbies on the beat; iPads to help officers cut down on paper work and the sale of that pesky Police HQ.

But the crucial question here is this: Can Mr Ellis turn water in to wine? Can he help Staffordshire Police maintain its services while cutting £34 million from its budget by 2015?

If not, is he any good in an armed siege or a riot?

Read my Personally Speaking columns in The Sentinel every Tuesday

The ‘We are where we are’ poll

I’ve been as positive as anyone about Vale and urging people to pull together for the good of the club and set aside any differences they may have.
But I can’t escape the fact that there’s still a lot of discussion over the current state of affairs off-the-field at Vale Park.
Keith Ryder’s disappearing act has thrown a spanner in the works and left the club in limbo (administration) and whilst it is great to be watching football again at Vale Park we can’t ignore the fact that the future remains uncertain.
Many are pointing their fingers at the administrators for failing to do their homework. Others blame the Supporters’ Club for being ‘taken in’ by Keith Ryder.
For what it’s worth, I think everyone who campaigned for change was right – irrespective of whether or not Keith Ryder let down the administrators.
I certainly wouldn’t change a thing about the way the Supporters’ Club conducted itself. We’e always done what’s best for the club – something which can’t be said for many people involved in this pantomime.
I think it’s very easy to throw stones from sidelines.
But what do you think?
Tell me whether or not you think the fans/Supporters’ Club/and yes, yours truly, were right to campaign for the removal of Valiant 2001 and the old board.
Or tell me why you think we were better off under Bill Bratt, Glenn Oliver and Mike Lloyd and co.
Comments on the actions of the administrators and the Supporters’ Club are very welcome!

Shareholders’ poll a step forward

I’D like to applaud the North London Valiants (NLV) fans’ group for canvassing shareholders regarding the Mo Chaudry takeover proposals and the competency, or otherwise of the current board.
In fact, the directors’ subsequent decision to poll shareholders on Chaudry’s bid now smacks a little of “after the horse has bolted”.
The results of the NLV poll are fairly conclusive – with 77 per cent of the respondents saying they had no confidence in the board to make the right decisions about future investment in the club.
These results were based on responses from 40.5 per cent – or 339 – of Vale’s shareholders.
This means that even if there has been some jiggery-pokery lately, and those figures have been influenced by people buying up £50 worth of shares here and there, it’s still a pretty damning indictment of the board.
Having said that, I’m still pleased all shareholders are to be given the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to Chaudry’s vision for the Vale.
For months now anti-board protesters have vented their anger over the fact the directors don’t seem to be listening to the supporters.
They couldn’t understand why none of the potential investors in the club were seen as worthy of pursuing.
The campaigners want an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) so that  regular shareholders with just a few hundred quid invested in the club could have a say.
Well they haven’t got an EGM just yet, but this poll at least gives us all a voice and, if conducted with transparency and openness, may deliver a level of accountability that has been lacking for some time.
It will be interesting to see the figures – in terms of the split between individual shareholders as opposed to the percentages of shares.
We could have a situation where, as with votes at the annual meeting, the majority of people vote for something, but because they own a relatively small number of shares they ultimately lose.
Which brings us back to the crux of the debate.
The remaining six directors in this war of attrition are likely to ultimately decide the fate of Chaudry’s proposals – something which flies in the face of the original Valiant 2001 ethos of For Us All and one-man, one-vote.
Many claim this is inherently unfair, but if you had sunk tens of thousands of pounds into the Vale, wouldn’t you want more of a say than Joe Bloggs with his £50 stake?