Countdown begins for Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner election

From top left, Hannah Barham-Brown, Keith Tordoff, Zoe Metcalfe. From bottom left, James Barker, Emma Scott-Spivey.

The countdown has begun for the election to replace former North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott.

Voting will take place on November 25 to replace Mr Allott who quit last month following a two-week storm of sustained criticism over the comments he made on the murder of Sarah Everard.

Mr Allott had only been in the job for five months having been elected in May and faced multiple calls to resign after saying Ms Everard should not have “submitted” to arrest by the police officer who murdered her and that women needed to be more “streetwise”.

There are five candidates competing for the £74,000-per-year post with women’s safety already featuring as a key part of their campaigns.

Harrogate councillor Zoe Metcalfe is the Conservative candidate and said her focus is on “improving safety for women and girls across North Yorkshire, supporting victims of crime and tackling serious and organised crime”.

Ms Metcalfe is a project manager for a property company in addition to being a member of Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council.

Ms Metcalfe’s parents ran a coal merchants business in Leyburn’s railway yard for many years.

Emma Scott-Spivey, who is a student paramedic and the daughter of two police officers, will contest the role for Labour.

She said she wanted to stand in the election after hearing Mr Allott’s comments and that she would prioritise tackling violence against women and girls, as well as county lines drugs gangs.

She said: “The police are facing unprecedented challenges – not just from savage cuts to funding but also due to a breakdown in trust. That trust must be rebuilt and the damage done by Philip Allott must be repaired.”

The Liberal Democrat candidate is York councillor James Barker who served in the military for 24 years and also stood for the commissioner role in May when he finished in fourth place.

He said: “There is work to do to rebuild the trust lost with victim’s groups, women’s groups and the public at large.

“If elected, my priority on day one would be starting the long process of making sure everyone can have faith that the PFCC listens to and supports victims of crime.”

Keith Tordoff, who served for 20 years in West Yorkshire Police and ran the world’s oldest sweet shop in Pateley Bridge, has also decided to stand again as an independent after finishing in third place in the last election.

He said the county had been “badly let down” by the previous commissioner and that he will “prioritise responses for crimes against women, hate crime and fight for justice for all victims of crime”.

Mr Tordoff said: “With my policing, business and community led background, I will work tirelessly if elected to keep the people living, working or visiting North Yorkshire safe.”

The final candidate is Dr Hannah Barham-Brown who will stand for the Women’s Equality Party and works as a GP in Leeds.

She said she took part in protests against Mr Allott and that she would launch an independent inquiry into misogyny at North Yorkshire Police if elected.

Dr Barham-Brown said: “Women and girls in North Yorkshire deserve to live their lives free from the fear and the threat of violence, and that is why I am contesting this election.

“I will not allow politicians to sit idly by while women lose their lives and freedom in the face of violence.”

The announcement of the election results will take place from Selby Civic Centre on 26 November – the day after voters go to the polls.

Polling cards were sent out earlier this month with the deadlines to register and to vote by post having already passed, while the deadline for proxy voting is 5pm on Wednesday.

Voters are being urged to check their poll cards to see where their local polling station is as some may have changed due to the need for Covid safety measures.

Anyone who has tested positive or has symptoms should not visit a polling station.

If you can not vote in-person because of Covid, or because of your employment or a disability, there is an option to apply for an emergency proxy vote by 5pm on the day of the election.

Janet Waggott, election returning officer and chief executive of Selby District Council, said: “Covid remains an important consideration and we’re putting arrangements in place to help you stay safe at the polling station; such as hand sanitiser and face masks.

“Residents should be reassured that voting in these elections will take place in a Covid-safe environment.”

Elections for commissioners use a supplementary voting system in which voters rank candidates in order of preference.

If no candidate receives a majority then all but the two leading candidates are eliminated and a second count takes place.

In the second count, the second preference votes of those supporting eliminated candidates are distributed among the two leading candidates.

In May, Philip Allott took 84,737 of the first and second-preference votes ahead of Labour candidate Alison Hume who finished in second place with a total of 53,442 votes.

The final results in terms of total votes were:

Philip Allott (Conservative) – 84,737 votes

Alison Hume (Labour) – 53,442 votes

Keith Tordoff (Independent) – 22,338

James Barker (Liberal Democrats) – 19,773 votes