John Savage, the Bristol businessman, campaigner and driving force behind the city’s Chamber of Commerce & Initiative, has become Labour’s new candidate in the Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner election.
Dr Savage, who chairs the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust, took over the candidacy yesterday after the party’s previous candidate Bob Ashford was forced to step down when he learned that a minor conviction in 1966 barred him from standing.
Dr Savage said: “I am determined to use my skills and experience to stand up for local communities in these elections.
“I fully understand the need for a new approach to resource allocation in these testing economic times but the Government is making the wrong choices on crime, taking frontline police off the streets, weakening powers to deal with anti-social behaviour, and opening the door to the privatisation of core services – I will fight the impact of these reckless changes.”
Mr Ashford was barred from standing for the post after admitting being part of a group of boys who shot at cans with an air gun in 1966.
He claims he did not touch the gun but pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the misdemeanour at court – where magistrates fined him £5.
Yesterday, Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy said the legislation preventing him from running was “draconian”.
“I don’t think even the government realise that this legislation was as draconian as it’s turned out to have been drafted,” she told the BBC.
“The minister said at the time that this amendment to the act came through that it wouldn’t stop people people in Bob’s position running for police commissioner.
“It just seems grossly unfair to me that what I think anyone would regard as a very trivial incident 46 years ago – he’s had a exemplary life since then, he’s been very much involved in the community doing youth work, criminal justice system and so on.
“The ironic thing is that it wouldn’t bar him from becoming home secretary, it wouldn’t bar him from joining the police force and becoming chief constable.
“So it seems a bit strange that they’ve put this provision in the law.”
Phil Smith, managing director of business lobbying and leadership group Business West, backed Mr Savage.
“At Business West we know John well. He led the organisation for over 20 years and has made a fundamental impact on business, regeneration and partnership working across Bristol and the West of England for many years,” he said.
“As the chief executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative, part of Business West, he brought public and private sector organisations together to address issues of poverty, unemployment and homelessness and more recently to develop the long term Bristol 2050 vision.”
Respect Party candidate drops out of mayor race
Paulette North said she would not be able to continue her campaign for personal reasons.
Neil Maggs, her agent and running mate in the campaign, will now be the Respect Party’s mayoral candidate, the party announced.
“Neil Maggs is a fantastic candidate, he can really move things along,” Ms North said.