VOTERS went to the polls today to help choose Wiltshire’s first police and crime commissioner – but turn-out in the historic county-wide election is expected to be low.
PCCs are being brought in by the Government to replace police authorities in England and Wales.
They will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and set the force’s budget and strategy.
The Wiltshire candidates are Labour’s Clare Moody, Conservative Angus Macpherson, Lib Dem Paul Batchelor, John Short for the UK Independence Party and independents Colin Skelton and Liam Silcocks.
People are given the option to vote for a second choice.
The result was expected to be declared in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
The Electoral Commission is hoping for a turnout of about 30 per cent – in line with the average for a council election – but after the polls opened, it became clear that some polling stations in Swindon were super quiet, with perhaps only one voter turning up every 20 minutes.
Things were slow at St Barnabas Church Hall, in Ferndale Road, where 23 voters had passed through by the end of the normal morning rush about 9.40am.
Pamela Stone, 70, of Whiteman Street, said she would give her support to Labour’s candidate, Clare Moody, but felt turn-out would be very low as she had not received any political literature.
She said: “Really they should be knocking on your door. I know nothing about the people whatsoever.
“They can’t expect you to vote for them if you don’t know anything about them.
“I think there’s a female on there so that’s the one I will go for just because she’s female. I don’t know anything else about anybody.”
Things were equally slow at Rodbourne Methodist Church, in Rodbourne Road, where the only voter in sight was Joan Jeffrey, 77, of Burnham Court.
She said: “I voted Liberal because the local Liberals are pretty good aren’t they.”
Commenting on the option of a second-choice vote, she added: “I voted for the Liberals and then Labour as second choice. It’s confusing.”
The Conservatives need to win to maintain majority control of Swindon Council.
Sharon Squires, of Blunsdon, said she voted in the PCC election for Conservative Angus Macpherson as first choice and Lib Dem Paul Batchelor as second choice.
She said: “It was not particularly easy. I didn’t feel I really heard enough about it.
It’s been on the news but I haven’t heard in any detail about the candidates or the whole thing.
“I did have a quick look at the leaflets today and based it on that.
“I did vote for two. I was surprised I had a first and a second choice because most elections you just get one. I did debate but then I went for two.”
Aidan Hannon, 21, of Blunsdon, voted for Conservative Angus Macpherson as first choice and independent Colin Skelton as second choice, as well as Conservative Steve Weisinger in the by-election.
He said: “I thought I would support whoever had the toughest stance on drugs.
“I think a lot of crime problems stem from people abusing drugs, and drugs around the town, so I thought it would be the best issue to go on.”