NEXT Friday, July 6, everyone in Cornwall will have an opportunity to select the candidate who could become the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall as the Conservative Party holds a series of hustings open to the public.
I've always supported the proposal for elected Police and Crime Commissioners. They will replace the old Police Authorities which have been largely invisible and have had little impact. Who can name the current chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority? An election will lead to more powerful commissioners who represent local communities and will be better placed to hold the Chief Constable to account and stop interference from Whitehall.
The Conservatives are the only party to open up their candidate selection process to the whole electorate. Anyone who considers themselves a Conservative voter can choose who they think should be their candidate, whether or not they are a party member. If you are on the electoral roll, all you have to do is pre-register to attend the meeting at Kingsley Village next Friday evening to hear what the candidates have to say and then decide who you want.
There will be three candidates to choose from. Two are from Devon but one, Tony Hogg, is from Helston, and in the preliminary selection round he gave a very powerful performance and showed that he had done his homework, understood the challenges in great detail and was ready for the task ahead.
Tony Hogg was a Commodore in the Navy and the commanding officer at RNAS Culdrose, responsible for 3,000 personnel and a budget of £80 million. I first met him shortly after being elected in 2010 when he was the chief executive of BF Adventure, an excellent charity which turns around the lives of young people who have lost their way or lost their confidence. I was immediately impressed by his commitment and enthusiasm.
One of Tony Hogg's strengths is that he has a modest manner, despite some incredible achievements during his career. He was decorated for his role as a helicopter pilot in an audacious air-sea rescue operation in 1979, a veteran of the Falklands war and one of the pilots in the brave operation to defeat the threat from Exocet missiles. He captained five ships during his career and led the Royal Navy's minesweeping operation during the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, so he's a tough cookie: but his latter career at a youth charity means he also understands the issues that contribute to the causes of crime. Why not come and see what he and the other candidates have to say?
To register to attend and vote at the Conservative primary at Kingsley Village next Friday, call 01395 233503 or go to www.policeselection.co.uk