A NAVY veteran sailed to victory in the first Police Commissioner elections in Devon and Cornwall.Tony Hogg, the Conservative candidate, took 69,419 votes, easily beating his rival Brian Greenslade, a Liberal Democrat who stood as an independent.Mr Greenslade took 37,243 votes in total.Counting went on late into the night, in spite of a miserly 15.15 per cent turnout across the peninsula.Plymouth voters were the least enthusiastic in the force area, with just 23,619, or 13.03per cent, casting their ballot.The vote was on the second preference system, with each voter getting two choices.Mr Hogg led the first ballot with 55,257 votes to Mr Greenslade’s 24,719, but pulled ahead in the second round of counting.Plymouth Labour councillor Nicky Williams came third with 24,196. She and the rest of the ten-strong field was knocked out after the first round.Mr Hogg and Mr Greenslade went into a second round head-to-head round at the peninsula count centre at Pool, near Redruth.But Plymouth publican Tam Macpherson (Ind) came last with 4,306 votes, losing his deposit.The first-round result was a triumph for Mr Greenslade, a long-serving Lib Dem who stood as an independent in this election.He beat the official Lib Dem candidate, Brian Blake, who is from Yealmpton, outside Plymouth. Mr Blake came fourth on 23,948 votes.The total number of ballot papers verified was 196,987. A combination of protest votes and confusion over the new second preference system meant that 6,339 ballot papers were rejected in the first round.Mr Hogg, a Royal Navy veteran and former commanding officer at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall becomes Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner next Thursday.He played down the low turnout. “We know the arguments – this is a pioneering role and the first time we have done this,” he said.“I don’t think people will have been made aware early enough of the benefits and the candidates, and the election was held in mid-November.“It is up to us to show that we can make a difference over the next three and a half years.“I am sure that next time round we will have greater public interest.“I am sure that all the candidates would wish it to be a higher turnout.” But he defended the mandate, saying “a lot of people will have voted for the winning candidate”.“It’s up to us to show the public the value of the post.”He said the police faced challenges and he would support them in those challenges.Nicky Williams said afterwards that she was very pleased to come so close.“Labour’s turnout has been consistent, but the Conservative turnout has fallen dramatically.“This is a role nobody wants and the public had made clear that they don’t want the police force privatised.”She is a member of the Police Panel which will monitor the work of the Commissioner, and she promised: “I will keep the Commissioner under scrutiny and make sure he delivers.”Alison Seabeck, the Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, called for a debate in Parliament about the election.She said: “I spent election day knocking on doors and there were two issues that people had.“They said they’d had little information on the candidates. They weren’t going to go out and put their names on a piece of paper when they don’t know what they are voting for.”She said people also questioned the need for a Police Commissioner. The election would be a waste of money at a time when police numbers are being cut.“People felt disenfranchised by this process.“You have to ask what on earth was the Government thinking?”Mr Greenslade, the former Lib Dem leader of Devon County Council, stood as an independent.“Many of us predicted a low turnout,” he said.“We warned the Government time and again that this election was flawed and that the public did not want it.“A lot of people think the whole thing was bonkers.”Mr Greenslade said the Prime Minister’s attempt earlier in the day to blame the media for the low turnout was “the stupidest statement to make”.Devon and Cornwall was the last of 41 police authorities in the country to declare a result, with the first count taking nearly nine hours.Weary candidates and their supporters were repeatedly given a time for the result, only for their hopes to be dashed.Kevin Lavery, the Cornwall Council chief executive, who was the returning officer, put the blame on other local authority areas.Ballot papers were checked against voting registers in each of the 12 local authority areas immediately after the polls closed on Thursday night.The boxes of ballots were then delivered to Carn Brea to be counted.Mr Lavery said: “The verification process in a couple of areas has not been up to the robust standards we would expect.”First round resultAnthony Hogg (Con) 55,257Brian Greenslade (Ind) 24,719EliminatedNicky Williams (Lab) 24,196Brian Blake (Lib Dem) 23,948Robert Smith (UKIP) 16,433Ivan Jordan (Ind) 12,382William Morris (10,586)John Smith (10,171)Graham Calderwood (Ind) 8,667Tam Macpherson (Ind) 4,306Total votes: 196,987Rejected papers 6,339Turnout 15.15per centSecond round resultAnthony Hogg 14,162Brian Greenslade 12,524Spoilt ballot papers 17,897Total votesAnthony Hogg 69,419Brian Greenslade 37,243Tony Hogg, the new new Police Commissioner, said the first job would be to boost police morale and public respect.“The existing Police Authority staff have worked very hard to produce a comprehensive briefing for the new Commissioner.“It is important to have ideas of your own, but to understand that there is a lot to learn, and to go in and listen.“But time is short. All this has to happen in a matter of weeks so the Policing Plan can be produced for the start of the next financial year.“The headline challenge in Devon and Cornwall is funding.“But underlying that is a challenge about how police feel about themselves. Morale is low.“If we are to have an effect, first we need to boost morale.“That doesn’t imply that the Commissioner won’t have a challenging role, but it’s very important to address morale and respect for the police and I see these as significant enablers for everything else.Mr Hogg was Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose, where he managed 3,000 personnel and a budget of £90million. His 33-year naval career included five ship commands including HMS Chatham based at Devonport. He saw active service in the Falklands War and the Arabian Gulf, and was awarded the Air Force Cross for his role in a 1978 air sea rescue in 1978.Since leaving the Navy, he has run a charity offering adventure activities, including behavioural support to Cornwall’s “hardest-to-reach” young people.OUR LIVE COVERAGE OF THE DAY'S EVENTSclick here if the panel below fails to work, to view a simple text version of the live blog
Alison Seabeck, the Labour MP for Plymouth Moor View, said: “I am not at all surprised at the low turnout.”She said she spent the day knocking on doors and encountered two main issues.“Primarily, people said they had had absolutely no information on the candidates.“Most had leaflets from the Conservative and Labour candidates, but none of the others had any capacity to get leaflets out on any large scale.”And she said many people did not think there should have been an election at all.“They said it was a waste of money at a time when police numbers are being cut.”• The election failed to break the low turnout record of Poplar South in London, where only 9.3 per cent voted in a 1942 by-election.The Electoral Commission has launched a review into the low national turnout - which saw an average of 15 per cent of people vote.At one polling station in Wales no votes were cast.Keith Rossiter: The count that went on, and on
THE cavernous main hall of a Cornish leisure centre played host to an unusual sport yesterday.
Nearly 12 hours of vote-counting: a marathon, indeed.
The rules of the game are complex, and although there is a ref, he rarely blows his whistle.
In most British elections it's a sudden-death play-off: first past the post and you're home and dry.
But the ten candidates to be Police and Crime Commissioner in Devon and Cornwall played to new rules, the so-called Cameron Gambit.
On Thursday the voters (only 23,619 turned out in Plymouth) were offered a choice of two columns.
In the first they put an 'X' for their first preference. In the second, they put an 'X' for their second preference.
The idea was simple: Count all the first preferences. If none exceeds 50 per cent plus one, the top two go through to Round 2, where the second preferences of all the rest are re-allocated. The count starts all over again.
Only …. It didn't quite work out that way.
Hundreds. No, thousands, of spoilt ballots were tossed into the reject pile (or sin bin), causing massive delays in the count.
Some showed signs of confusion by the voters, but many of the rejects were clearly part of a protest movement, with scrawled comments or every box ticked.
ALL afternoon the ten candidates drifted among the tables neatly laid out with 197,001 ballot papers.
Well, not all: at least one (Independent candidate Ivan Jordan) quickly saw which way the wind was blowing and headed back to Exeter.
It's always a poignant sight, watching politicians trying to keep a poker face as their votes fail to mount up, but at least we had one more novelty to entertain us.
Each of the peninsula's 12 local authorities brought along their boxes of ballots, and were allocated separate colour-coded areas, ranging from yellow to shocking pink.
Plymouth's David Shepperd and legal officer Tim Howes cannily bagged green for the Plymouth counters.
Never again will I complain about election night in Plymouth, where the votes are counted in the grand and atmospheric setting of the Guildhall.
It was just not the same in the Carn Brea leisure centre at Redruth, or Camborne, or where ever.
I had to stop on the way and hire a Sherpa to guide me the last few miles into the depths of a Cornish industrial estate.
"WHY 'Brand new'?" someone in the office asked on Thursday. "Why not just 'New'? And where does the 'brand' bit come from?"
Within moments at least three people were hitting Google for answers.
And yet, when it comes to the (brand) new Police Commissioner, the poor turnout is blamed primarily on lack of information.
During a General Election the Government funds candidates' leaflets, but has decided not to do the same for the Police Commissioners.
Instead, the information has been on a dedicated website.
Lib Dem candidate Brian Blake told me that people he had spoken to had not been able to find the website(s).
And at the count yesterday Labour activist Luke Pollard told me: "The Government's refusal to send out information was shameful."
Yet never has there been a quicker and easier way of tracking down obscure facts than the internet.
Think of the weirdest question you can, and then Google it: you'll find several thousand people have already posed the same question, and several dozen have created websites to answer it.
So, to be blunt, I don't believe that complaint.
Much more plausible is that 85 per cent of voters in Devon and Cornwall really don't care about this election.
IF TONY BLAIR and his spin doctor Alastair Campbell were still in charge in Downing Street, this could have been so different.
Campbell would have known better than to impose an unwanted Police Commissioner on the public.
Police Commissioners will replace the existing Police Authorities, with a similar remit to manage the money and set the policing agenda.
But here's the thing: no one really knew a thing about the Police Authority.
For all any of us knew it did a fine job and gave us the best of all police forces in the best of all worlds.
Alternatively, for all any of us knew it was a self-serving group of retired tapioca smugglers from Mozambique.
What a clever spin doctor would have done is to engineer a few scandals to get the public's blood up: a committee-room orgy or two; a chairman eloping to Marrakesh with the deputy Chief Constable; all policing resources devoted to a single remote village on Exmoor.
Within weeks the great British public would have been clamouring for an elected Police Commissioner and the turnout would have been 85 per cent instead of 15 per cent.