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Businessman says he could bring “creativity” to PCC role

Saturday, 20 April 2024 09:13

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

PCC candidate for the Liberal Democrats Steve Lodge. (Image courtesy: Liberal Democrats)

Tiverton resident is ready for politics

A businessman and accountant who has watched politics from afar is hoping to become the next police and crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall.

Steve Lodge, 53, from Tiverton thought about standing as a MP, but says his financial background and governance experience – he has been vice chair of the Federation of Small Businesses in Mid Devon – together with his knowledge of business, are suited to the commissioner role.

And the fact that he has no background in policing, he believes, is a good thing, enabling him to bring “creativity, innovation and acumen to the job, without any baggage”.

Mr Lodge, who is standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the election, runs a marketing and communications agency and has been in business for 25 years. Before that he was an accountant at IBM and Marconi.

“I watched politics from afar. I am a life long Lib Dem voter, but never really considered myself going into that area and I was concentrating on my business,” he said. “I now have the opportunity to step back a bit and it feels like time for a change.”

Bumping into Lib Dem Richard Foord, MP for Tiverton and Honiton and Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey during a PR job at Tiverton High School sealed the deal.

“I was inspired by them to make the world a fairer place, and thought that’s something I would like to do.”

Mr Lodge is one of three candidates, along with incumbent commissioner Alison Hernandez, and former diplomat and civil servant Daniel Steel.

The job of the PCC is to hold the police service to account and to scrutinise their performance. It pays more than £88,000 a year, with elections taking place every four years.

Mr Lodge wants to see “a proper return to community policing” with more bobbies on the beat, and to bridge the gap between the police and the public as he says “trust has been eroded”.

He wants what he called ‘fairer funding’ and ‘smarter spending’ so police have the resources to fight crime, and to support rehabilitation and restorative justice.

He said national police funding levels were the same last year as in 2011. “You have to question how the police can work properly with this amount of underfunding,” he said.

Mr Lodge believed he could “add value” to the new police and crime plan in 2025 and wants more of a multi-agency approach.

He said many people, charities and local authorities, who do “fantastic work” on crime prevention and in areas like mental health, who are unsung heroes.

He feels the police needed “to be more joined up”. All the force could do is to respond to crime and teach rookie officers the basics, he said.

The biggest issue right now “hands down,” is anti-social behaviour, he believes.

“It’s something I am hearing when I knock on every door. In Truro, shopkeepers are subject to verbal abuse. People think they can just walk in and steal what they like.”

He continued: “If we can provide common sense to politics and to being the police and crime commissioner, we will resolve a lot of the problems we have currently.”

Looking through documents from 2012, when the police and crime commissioner’s office was set up, he saw something on youth crime which made a lot of sense but hadn’t been implemented.

“It was created by the Conservatives and it said for every pound you spend on youth crime you save the country £2.50. If I could walk into bank with £1 and come out with £2.50 I would be a happy man, but what happened? Investment in youth crime was slashed. Investment in the police was slashed.

“If we invest properly in our public services, we will deal with the issues we have, but for some reason politicians just don’t see it.”

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