THE BOROUGH’S only candidate in the police and crime commissioner election suffered a depressing defeat, finishing last.
Councillor Stephen West, the UKIP candidate for the £85,000-a-year role, obtained 21,185 votes – meaning he finished behind the three candidates from the main political parties, and two independents, including winner Simon Hayes.
In Basingstoke and Deane, Cllr West fared better, finishing fourth with 2,273 votes. But he failed to garner the same level of support in the rest of the county.
The poll, which had the worst turnout in any Hampshire-wide election, went to a second preference count, and Mr Hayes beat Conservative candidate Michael Mates by 15,000 votes. All the other candidates were eliminated after the first preference count.
Cllr West, who represents Tadley Central on the borough council, said the result was a landslide for the “apathy party”.
Cllr West blamed a lack of consultation, poor communication by the Government, and the holding of an election in November, for the poor turnout.
He said: “This election will go down in history as a shambles, and serves as yet another example of the Coalition Government going from one disaster to another.
“While people are struggling to make ends meet and the economy is in the doldrums, the Government has spent millions of pounds on this change which will do nothing to improve policing or accountability in the country.”
Cllr West thanked all those who voted for him, and referring to the new PCC said: “The election of Simon Hayes has been a good outcome, and I am confident that Simon, with his years of experience and clear ability, will serve our county admir-ably.”
As predicted, voter turnout was low, with just 15 per cent of the Hampshire electorate bothering to go to the polls last Thursday.
In the borough, 18,838 people voted, a turnout of 14.8 per cent. There were 465 rejected ballot papers, with 283 void for uncertainty.
Turnout was marginally higher in Hart, where 14.9 per cent (10,445 people) of the electorate voted.
The highest turnout in the county was in Winchester, with 20.2 per cent, while Gosport had the lowest, with 11.5 per cent.
After the result was announced in Southampton, victorious Mr Hayes, chairman of the Crimestoppers charity in Hampshire, said he now had a great responsibility to prove the value of the newly-created post.
The PCC replaces the Hampshire Police Authority. Mr Hayes has the power to hire and fire the chief constable and set budgets for Hampshire Constabulary. One of his first tasks will be to appoint a replacement for Chief Constable Alex Marshall, who will leave the force for a new role next year.
In his victory speech, Mr Hayes said: “When we started this, we had no real anticipation that we would get this far. The expectation was we wouldn’t win but we thought it was important to give the electors of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight a chance to vote for an independent candidate.”
Mr Hayes, a former chairman of the Hampshire Police Authority, starts his new role this week, and his main goal is to help to reduce re-offending.
Mr Marshall said: “Hampshire is a successful forward-thinking force which has seen significant reduction in crime levels over the past five years.
“We look forward to working with the new commissioner to build on this success.”