Two Conservatives are battling it out to decide who is to be the party’s candidate for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.
Former Birmingham city councillor Matt Bennett and Solihull borough councillor Joe Tildesley must face a series of four open primary hustings which will determine whose name goes on to the ballot paper for the PCC election on November 15.
Anyone on the Electoral Roll in the Police Authority Area may register to attend and vote at the meetings by emailing email@example.com .
The primaries will be held in Erdington on July 4, Walsall on July 5, Halesowen on July 10, with the final session at Solihull on July 11.
The process, throwing the final decision open to non-party members, is in contrast to the Labour Party’s tightly controlled selection for PCC candidate, which saw only 29 per cent of members take part and resulted in victory for Wolverhampton councillor Bob Jones.
Both of the prospective Conservative candidates are expected to criticise Coun Jones’ longstanding membership of the West Midlands Police Authority, painting him as ‘yesterday’s man’.
Jim Cooper, chairman of the Conservative organising committee, said: “The new Police and Crime Commissioner will be elected to represent the views of the public. We believe the public should have a voice in selecting our candidate.
“The Labour Party has restricted the choice to their members only and they have selected someone who has already been a member of the police authority for 27 years. Where are the new ideas?”
Matt Bennett served as a councillor in Birmingham for Stockland Green ward from 2008 to 2012 and is a former executive member for children’s social care. His career outside of politics has been in public and voluntary sector management.
Mr Bennett said: “I am looking forward to these open primaries which are a great way of engaging with the public. I will use them to put across my message that we need tougher policing in the areas where antisocial behaviour is at its worst and that the rights of the public, in particular those who are victims of crime, are paramount.”
Coun Tildesley is a former Inspector in the West Midlands force with 30 years of policing experience.
During the last five years of his service he was a national Police Federation official working in London and also the West Midland Police Federation Chairman.
Operationally, he saw service throughout the West Midlands and worked in a number of specialist positions in the Traffic Department, Plain Clothes, Special Patrol Group and the Training Department. He received nine Commendations for outstanding police work.
He was elected to Solihull Council in May 2007. He was re-elected in 2011 with both the largest personal vote and majority of the seventeen seats up for election. He is the cabinet member for Education, Children and Young People.
- A YouGov opinion poll has found limited support for Police and Crime Commissioners, with just 34 per cent saying they thought the new role was a good idea and would give a voice to the public. Just under half of Conservative supporters backed PCCs in the study.