Only one in eight Solihull voters made it to the polling station at last week’s election for the police and crime commissioner – believed to be the worst turn out in the borough’s electoral history.
Just 12.5 per cent got to the ballot box, with Conservative candidate Matt Bennett coming out on top in the borough. He captured more than a quarter of first preference votes.
But when the results from seven local councils were pooled, the Tory was forced into second-place. Labour’s Bob Jones was declared the winner for the West Midlands region.
He will be responsible for holding the largest police force outside London to account.
The elections – which cost around £100m nationwide – were criticised after many Solihull residents claimed they didn’t understand the nature of the new role or which candidates were standing. Many registered their concerns on Twitter.
Jo Robinson, aged 22, wrote: “I hope Tories scrap them [commissioners] when they realise no-one cares. Waste of money.”
Twenty-six-year-old Dean Haycock said: “In the time I have been waiting for this bus I’ve not seen a single person go into the polling station. Apathy is rife in North Solihull.”
And Dave Pinwell, from Knowle, added: “Remind us, how much have the empty venues and underused attending staff cost us at the end of this ill conceived poll?”
Although a little less than 20,000 votes were cast across Solihull, Labour activists will be pleased to have finished as runners-up – following a disappointing local election in May.
Councillor David Jamieson, leader of Solihull’s Labour group, said the apathy was a “disastrous result” for the Government.
It was a grim picture for the Lib Dems, who polled just 650 votes (3.4 per cent) and finished in last place, behind the UK Independence Party and three independents.
Solihull MP Lorely Burt said that personally she had “reservations about the police being politicised”, but played down her party’s poor polling.
“I think most people were baffled about what they were voting for and who they were voting for,” she said.