Police candidates face the public as town hotel hosts debate showdown

People will next week get another chance to quiz the hopefuls vying to become Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner.

A hustings featuring the four remaining candidates will be held at the Hind Hotel, in Sheep Street, Wellingborough, on Tuesday, November 6, at 7pm.

It follows other similar hustings around the county at which the electorate have had the opportunity to put their questions and concerns to the candidates.

Organisers hope the hustings in Wellingborough will help to raise public awareness about the election, which has suffered from a low profile and has been particularly overshadowed in the north of the county by the Parliamentary by-election in Corby and East Northamptonshire on the same day.

Hind Hotel operations manager Shasha Khan said: “I sense there is an appetite to want to know more about this new position, as well as the candidates competing for your vote.”

A similar hustings held in Northampton in October saw the then five candidates clash over how the county’s force would deal with the trimming of its budget, which is estimated to amount to £20m in savings by 2015.

Labour’s Lee Barron, who has subsequently withdrawn from the race, told the audience his fellow candidates needed to offer the electorate firm assurances as to how they would manage on a squeezed budget.

“The people of Northamptonshire need answers on what we will tackle in our budgets,” he said.

Independent candidate John Norrie said the cuts were “grossly unfair”, while UKIP’s Jim MacArthur warned front-line services would be adversely affected “for the foreseeable future” if cuts were made.

Lib Dem Paul Varnsverry said the force needed a commissioner with the tenacity to demand sufficient funding.

He promised that, if elected, he would “go knocking down doors at Westminster with the chief constable and see that we get our money back”.

Meanwhile Adam Simmonds, the Conservative Party candidate, suggested the police might have to share services to cut costs, but accused his rivals of being devoid of solid plans to cope with the cuts.

He added: “No-one I have heard has said how they are going to make this work.”