A MAN who is vying to be Hampshire’s first elected police commissioner has defended himself against claims he rented a flat in the county to be able to stand as a candidate.
Conservative former East Hampshire MP Michael Mates has lived just over the border from Hampshire, in West Sussex, for 15 years.
At the weekend he was accused of renting a flat in Winchester and enrolling on the electoral roll there for ‘convenience’ by his rival Don Jerrard, who is standing as police commissioner for the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party.
When contacted by The News Mr Mates rubbished the suggestion that he was a ‘carpet bagger’ and said trying to say he did not have a close enough association with the county after 36 years as one of its MPs was not ‘water tight’.
He said: ‘There are very few people, and I regret to say they are Conservatives, who are not happy that I was selected. They have been trying to undermine my selection ever since for their own purpose.
‘I hope this will now stop and we can get on with the serious business of debating the challenge of this new job, how it should be done and who should do it.’
He said his family home in West Sussex was 500 yards from the county border and added: ‘I can see Hampshire from the house.’
But the former Northern Ireland minister claims Mr Mates is spending ‘more and more time’ at the flat in Winchester which he took on in March and where he is now registered on the electoral roll. Speaking at the weekend Mr Jerrard said: ‘It seems like an address of convenience and another example of an MP or ex-MP engaging in sharp practice. At the least, it’s not the sort of behaviour one would expect of someone wanting to be an elected police commissioner.’
Mr Mates, 78, has been endorsed as the Conservative party candidate for the role, voting for which takes place on November 15.
There are 37 police commissioner posts up for grabs with an annual salary of £85,000.