Indpendent PCC candidates spending ?20,000 to stand
PUBLISHED November 12, 2012
When Prime Minister David Cameron urged independents to put their names forward earlier this year, he said: "This isn't just for politicians, but community leaders and pioneers of all sorts…this is a big job fir a big local figure."
But many non-party figures who are seeking election to the powerful new posts are struggling with the cost of campaigning and fear the elections are unfair.
With deposits set at £5,000, ten times that of a general election, independents are spending on average another £15,000 to get their message out to the electorate.
Farooq Mohammed, who is standing as an independent candidate in Cambridgeshire, said he estimated he has spent between £20,000 and £30,000 on his campaign, but was still struggling to compete with the main parties.
He said: "It has been a real challenge getting the message out there because my area of Cambridgeshire is very large and reaching all the electorate is very difficult.
"The party candidates have a real advantage over us because they have the machine behind them with vast resources.
"The decision to have the election in November has not helped also as awareness is proving to be a real problem."
Retired detective Ian Johnston, who is standing as an independent in Gwent, said he had only been able to mount a campaign thanks to the generosity of friends and supporters.
He said: "The Home Office denied us a free mail shot to the electorate which meant independents were immediately at a disadvantage. I spent over £3,000 on printing leaflets but the cost of posting them out would have been more than £10,000.
"I am fortunate in that I have got around 250 volunteers who have helped me with distribution, but without that I would not have stood a chance."
William Morris, who is one of six independent candidates standing in the Devon and Cornwall force area said: "I borrowed the cost of the deposit and I have had a couple of donations for my campaign but we are at a real disadvantage when it comes to manpower and money.
"My campaign consists of my wife, my son and a couple of friends. I passionately believe that this post should be non political but these elections have been organised very badly indeed and independents have not been given a very fair chance. That said it has not dimmed our enthusiasm and we remain confident."
Thursday's elections will take place in all 41 police areas in England and Wales, excluding Greater London.
However only 54 of the candidates taking part have no party political affiliation.