Tory police chief blocked by party members from standing again

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Michael Lane
Michael Lane, Hampshire’s one-term police and crime commissioner

HAMPSHIRE’S Conservative police boss Michael Lane will not stand for re-election under the party’s banner next year after he was deselected by local members.

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Mr Lane’s bid for the candidacy did not get past activists at a vote last week, leaving him with just under 12 months remaining of his four-year term as police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Mr Lane, a former navy commander, won the position in May 2016 by defeating the county’s first PCC, Independent Simon Hayes.

But amid falling police numbers, he has since faced a series of spending controversies including the budget allocated for running his office and bringing in a deputy at a cost of more than £64,000.

The job of PCC involves setting Hampshire Police’s priorities, its annual share of the council tax, and holding the force to account with the power to hire and fire the chief constable.

Mr Hayes, a former Tory leader of New Forest District Council, told the A&T he wanted to run again in May 2020 for the job – which he won in the first PCC election in 2012, having quit the party.

Mr Lane did not respond to the A&T’s request for comment.

Before he was deselected, Mr Lane gave a five-minute presentation to Tory members, including councillors and party officials, to try to save his position before fielding 20 minutes of questions.

The meeting that ended his re-election hopes was chaired by Conservative Andrew Henderson, but he declined to comment to the A&T saying the process was “entirely internal”.

The chair of the New Forest West Conservative Association, Cllr Alan O’Sullivan, was among those who voted against Mr Lane at the meeting.

Cllr O’Sullivan told the A&T: “My personal feeling was that I do not think he related to the public very well and therefore his presence was not so great. He should have shown himself more and been more empathetic to the public’s point of view.

“He’s probably very good at doing the back office work and is very efficient at that, but as a public face I do not think he succeeded.”

Former PCC Mr Hayes has returned to the Tory fold since his stint as an Independent, unsuccessfully running for the party in the May local elections for a seat on Test Valley Borough Council.

He confirmed to the A&T he would put his name forward and said he was in talks with the party about standing.

Mr Hayes said: “With the right approach and community support, the role of PCC can be very effective in protecting people and places, preventing crime and delivering community cohesion across society. That’s what excites me about standing again.”

Another announcing her intention to stand for the Tories was Flick Drummond, who in 2017 quit as Mr Lane’s deputy after just two weeks having failed, she said, to build a “professional relationship” with her boss.

Mrs Drummond was the Tory MP for Portsmouth South from 2015-17.

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