Will PCC poll be a by-election or a referendum?
If you want to demonstrate just how low turnouts in public elections are capable of plummeting, you could do no better than to plan a poll to choose a police and crime commissioner (PCC) during the dog days of summer: Thursday 21 August to be precise.
Especially in the West Midlands where the numbers in the original PCC elections in November 2012 were the second lowest anywhere in England and Wales. Just 12%of the two million people eligible to vote in the police force area actually did so. In some areas only one person in 20 took the trouble.
Following the untimely death in July of the region's first PCC, former Wolverhampton Labour Councillor Bob Jones, this is bound to be seen not just as a by-election to replace him but also as a referendum on the role itself.
He certainly disapproved of the job despite his obvious determination to make the best of it. And, following a party commission of inquiry, an incoming Labour government would be expected to scrap PCCs altogether.
But the original "Big Idea" set out by ministers when they first proposed PCCs was to establish a high-profile heavy-hitter in each force area as a focal point to make policing more directly accountable to the public.
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A: It's hoped that by synchronising them with the European Elections, money will be saved and turnouts raised.
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