Battle to become top cop has begun
click to enlarge
Councillor David Burbage is in the hunt for the Conservative nomination.
THE race is hotting up to become the first commissioner of Thames Valley Police as candidates begin to draw battle lines for a new political fight.
Conservative leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, councillor David Burbage, is the front runner to win the Tory nomination while Buckinghamshire's Jon Harvey and Tim Starkey are competing for the Labour candidacy.
The force covers 18 district councils from Milton Keynes to West Berkshire and the publicly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner will be expected to cut crime, deliver an efficient service and hold the force to account.
Councillor Burbage, the first Conservative in the Thames Valley to declare his interest publicly, said: "I've been a supporter of better democratic oversight of policing for some time, and although doing a worthy job, current police authority arrangements are invisible and unaccountable to the general public."
The council leader is popular at Conservative headquarters and the Royal Borough is viewed by the Government as a 'Vanguard Authority'. Cllr Burbage has said he would step down as leader if elected as commissioner. Jon Harvey has worked as a consultant with various police forces, including Thames Valley Police, and is a town councillor in Buckingham.
He said: "I have worked with, and for, the police since 1988. The challenges that face policing now are the cuts being made.
"I have huge respect for what the police force does in the community and they can help to bring people together."
Barrister Tim Starkey stood for the Lib Dems in Amersham and Chesham in the 2010 General Election, but has since defected to Labour.
He said: "I think it is important whoever gets elected plays a part in shaping the role. There will be a lot of power given to one person and I aim to give decisions back to the communities."
The Lib Dems nationally do not support the new role, but The Midweek understands a candidate is being selected privately.
A spokesman from the UK Independence Party said a candidate will only be put forward if there is someone with relevant experience.
The re-organisation will replace the Thames Valley Police Authority with a Police and Crime Panel. Each local authority will be represented by an appointed councillor.
The police commissioner will be selected by the public in Thames Valley-wide elections on Thursday, November 15.