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No Lib Dem candidate for PCC post


Shaun Wright resigned as South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner after weeks of pressure

Shaun Wright resigned as South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner after weeks of pressure

Shaun Wright resigned as South Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner after weeks of pressure

The Liberal Democrats have followed up their pledge to scrap police and crime commissioners (PCCs) with a decision not to put up a candidate for the vacant South Yorkshire post.

Nominations closed today for the by-election triggered by the resignation of Shaun Wright in the wake of the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal.

Four candidates have declared for the poll on October 30, from Labour, the Conservatives, Ukip and the English Democrats.

But the Lib Dems will not appear on the ballot paper.

Last month the party branded the coalition experiment with directly-elected police and crime commissioners a failure and pledged to scrap the position.

Home affairs spokesman Julian Huppert said there was "little evidence police commissioners are performing the task adequately".

Manifesto proposals to replace them with boards made up of local councillors will be debated at the party's conference starting tomorrow.

Record low turnouts in the polls to elect the first PCCs in October 2012 had already undermined confidence in the new system, which had been opposed by Labour and which is also committed to scrapping them if it wins in 2015.

Further damage to the image of PCCs was caused by the saga over Shaun Wright, who resigned last month.

He quit after three weeks of intense pressure following the publication of Professor Alexis Jay's report which described how at least 1,400 children were subjected to exploitation in the town between 1997 and 2013.

He had faced widespread criticism and top-level calls for him to step down as he had been the elected councillor with responsibility for children's services in Rotherham between 2005 and 2010.

The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel has installed the South Yorkshire PCC office's chief finance officer, Steve Pick, as the interim PCC until the new commissioner is elected at the end of the month.

:: The candidates are: David Allen (English Democrats), Alan Billings (Labour), Jack Clarkson (Ukip), Ian Walker (Conservatives).

English Democrat Mr Allen came second to Mr Wright in the 2012 election. He is a trained foundry engineer and a sales manager from Doncaster who is married with two children.

Dr Billings is a former deputy leader of Sheffield City Council and was once a parish priest in Sheffield.

Mr Clarkson is leader of the UKIP group on Sheffield City Council. He is former police inspector in the city.

Mr Walker is an engineer and a company managing director in Sheffield. He is married with four children.

The South Yorkshire process will not be the first PCC by-election since the system was set up in 2012.

A by-election was held in the West Midlands in August after the death of post-holder Bob Jones.

There were criticisms of the process following the West Midlands poll and also dismay at a £3.7 million bill for the vote when the turnout was only 10.41% - a cost to the taxpayer of around £15 per vote cast.

In the South Yorkshire PCC election in November 2012, Mr Wright got 51.35% of the vote in the first round and was elected. The turnout was 14.53%.

Mr Allen came second for the English Democrats with the Conservatives third, Ukip fourth and the Lib Dems fifth.

The election will be run by Barnsley Council chief executive Diana Terris, who is the Police Area Returning Officer for South Yorkshire. The count will take place at the town's Metrodome leisure centre on Friday, October 31.

Last month, David Cameron's official spokesman said that the Prime Minister was ready to listen to MPs' views on how to hold PCCs to account, but stressed that his support for the party's position had not changed.

Dr Billings has reaffirmed his pledge to donate half his salary to South Yorkshire charities supporting victims if he wins the by-election.

He said: "I have said for a long time that I don't think it's right that the police and crime commissioner should earn more than South Yorkshire's hard-working council leaders - the salary seems excessive to me.

"So I will take just half the salary and will donate the other half to South Yorkshire charities providing support to victims of crime.

Mr Allen today promised to hunt down all South Yorkshire's child rapist gangs and those who covered up their crimes.

He said: "From day one on the job, if elected, I will be tireless in the pursuit of these criminals and in bringing them to justice. The law should be administered without fear or favour and without ideological bias.

"The scandal in South Yorkshire has not been only the large number of child rape offences perpetrated by men of Muslim Pakistani origin, but also the deliberate concealment of these offences and failure to do their job of many people being paid handsomely out of the public pocket."

When he was nominated by Ukip, Mr Clarkson said: "The Ukip team will prevent repeat after repeat of the policing failures we have recently seen in Rotherham, and elsewhere, on the other parties' watch.

"Only Ukip can guarantee that political correctness will not get in the way of investigating crimes and only Ukip can promise one law for all."

Mr Walker said: "Clearly, Shaun Wright's resignation was prompted by the child exploitation scandal in Rotherham and tackling the issue will be one of my main priorities if elected to the role of PCC for South Yorkshire.

"An inspection of Rotherham Council is taking place while Ofsted is inspecting children's services, and I would work to ensure victims are not left to suffer in silence and those who exploited them are brought to justice."

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