£5,000 fee puts off Green Party in election of Hampshire police and crime commissioner
A POLITICAL party in Hampshire has not put forward any candidates for the police and crime commissioner elections due to an “exorbitant” fee, it has been claimed.
On 6th May residents will head to the polls to elect the new police and crime commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The Labour party, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and Hampshire Independents have put forward one candidate each.
But Hampshire Green Party has not as members said they were faced with a £5,000 fee.
It comes as according to the Electoral Commission, a person wishing to become a candidate at a PCC election needs to lodge a deposit of £5,000.
The government said the deposit ensures that only candidates “who are serious about running in the election” are put forward for nomination.
The commission previously called on the government to lower the fees.
The Hampshire Green Party described the requirement as “undemocratic”.
In a statement the party said: “Hampshire Green Party has taken a decision not to pay the £5,000 deposit to enter the Hampshire ballot as this fee is exorbitant and so bars us from participating in part of our democracy.”
John Spottiswoode, the coordinator of Southampton and District Green Party, said the national party does not fund local or regional election campaigns.
He said: “The Green Party devolves what it can to local parties. Local Green Parties are heavily involved in producing materials to fight local elections and so having the extra expense of standing in police and crime commissioner elections is not practical given the high cost. This means that we are being excluded from the elections on financial grounds, which is fundamentally undemocratic. It also means that our serious, important and highly relevant views are not being put forward in the PCC elections.”
It comes as the Southampton Green Party said to have “a massive interest in tackling issues surrounding crime”.
Mr Spottiswoode added: “This high cost is why only the richer political parties can stand. In local elections there is no such fee. Therefore whilst the Green Party can and does win council seats, the Green Party is not standing for the unreasonably expensive PCC election in Hampshire. ”
The Electoral Commission said: “The fees and criteria to stand are not set by the commission. Lowering the fees is something that would require legislation to be passed by Parliament, and we have called on the UK’s government to do so.”
Mark Heath, the Police Area Returning Officer (PARO) for the Hampshire police area, said: “To be nominated as a candidate for the PCCs a deposit of £5,000 must be with the PARO by the deadline for nominations. The deposit will be returned if the candidate polls more than 5% of the total number of valid first preference votes cast in the police area. It’s a legal requirement that Parliament has decided will be in place and the amount is also set by them.”
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Deposits are designed to ensure that only candidates who are serious about running in the election are put forward for nomination. The amount required for the deposit is intended to strike an appropriate balance between encouraging democratic participation and preventing frivolous candidates from standing for elections. The deposit entitles the candidate to have their election address published on the choosemypcc.org.uk website and included in a candidate booklet available on-demand, both of which are funded by the taxpayer. Candidates who re-ceive more than 5% of the valid votes cast, get their deposits returned, so this should not be a hurdle for those with a broad public support.”