Police and crime commissioner contest

VOTERS will have four candidates to choose from in the election for the next Avon & Somerset police and crime commissioner.

The PCC oversees Avon & Somerset police and is tasked with ensuring the force is “efficient and effective”, with the power to hire and fire the chief constable, and set both the force’s budget and the precept charge paid by council tax payers.

The job, which comes with a salary of £88,600 a year, also involves setting the service’s priorities through a police and crime plan, funding crime prevention and working with other organisations on a ‘joined-up’ local response to crime.

Elections will be held on May 2, when local elections are taking place in some parts of the country.

But the only part of the Avon & Somerset force area where all-out council elections are being held is Bristol.

The current PCC is Conservative Mark Shelford, who is standing for re-election this year.

The PCC usually serves a four-year term but because the previous election was delayed by a year because of the pandemic, Mr Shelford has only been in office for three years.

Labour came second in 2021. The party’s candidate this year is Clare Moody, a former MEP who is currently the chief executive of a charity.

The Greens, third in 2021, have selected Katy Grant, a Bristol city councillor and magistrate who previously worked for the UN.

Standing for the Liberal Democrats, who were fourth last time around, is Benet Allen, a former Somerset West and Taunton Council deputy leader who has worked in TV news and for a coach company.

Mr Shelford is the second person to hold the role of PCC since it was created in 2012.

His predecessor Sue Mountstevens, an independent, stood down in 2021 and her deputy, John Smith, came fifth in the last election. There is no independent candidate this year.

Another difference is that this year’s election uses the first-past-the-post system also used in Parliamentary elections.

Previous PCC elections were held using a ‘supplementary vote’ system, where voters were able to vote for a first and second choice candidate. The two leading candidates after first choice votes were counted then received second choice votes from people whose first choice had been eliminated.

Polls are open from 7am until 10pm. Anyone voting in person will need to bring photo ID, such as a passport or driving licence.

For more information on the election, visit the website www.aspccelections.co.uk.

• A by-election is taking place in South Gloucestershire Council’s New Cheltenham ward, which includes the Siston Hill estate near Mangotsfield, on May 2.

The by-election has been called after councillor Sandie Davies resigned at the end of March due to health issues.