Festus reflects on PCC election loss

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Former Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye (Conservative). Image: Office of the PCC
Former Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Festus Akinbusoye (Conservative). Image: Office of the PCC

Defeated Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye recalled one of his heroes, renowned 19th century American President Abraham Lincoln in the aftermath of his defeat at the ballot box.

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which is attributed to ending slavery in the country while preserving the union of states.

“One of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln,” Mr Akinbusoye told the local democracy reporting service. “He suffered a few election results before he became President of the United States, and there are others,” he explained.

Mr Akinbusoye questioned the involvement of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel in the build-up to polling day, saying: “I’m still very concerned about the way the panel has thrown themselves into the foray of another election campaign, in which I’ve been involved.

“It’ll be up to the monitoring officer in Bedford borough to look at the conduct of the panel during the last 12 months, in relation to me, and decide if that’s something appropriate or not.

“Those who lead and run the various institutions in Bedfordshire are supposed to be independent. We’d do very well to look at the way this is working.

“I think it’s very disappointing the way things have transpired, not just now but for some time. That’s not up to me. It’s down to those who run the institutions to see if they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Read: Labour’s John Tizard defeats Conservative Festus Akinbusoye to become Police & Crime Commissioner

Asked about his current plans, Mr Akinbusoye replied: “The future is bright. I’m very excited about my future, whatever that involves. Some people said I should learn my lesson and stop campaigning now.

“I’m upbeat. Life is good. I’ll go home, go to the gym, get some ice cream, hang out with my kids and get on with life.”

He repeated the reference to Abraham Lincoln in a social media post, following his election setback.

The PCC election was marked by a low turnout, with the total number of votes cast in Bedfordshire 100,679, a drop from 123,777 in 2021.

The Liberal Democrats in Bedfordshire have repeated their call for the post to be discarded, after the party’s candidate Jas Parmar came third, behind Labour and the Conservatives.

“It’s time for the role to be scrapped and consigned to history,” said Central Bedfordshire Council Leighton Linslade South Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Leaman.

“Time and again, we see the electorate voting with their feet and staying at home. Nobody seems to know what the role is for, what it’s supposed to do and what powers it has.

“Almost 1,000 people across Bedfordshire chose to spoil their ballot. That’s far higher than usual, many expressing their view that the post needs to be abolished.

“We spend more than £1m of taxpayers’ money each year on the Office of the Police Crime and Commissioner. We should be putting that money into front line policing instead.

“It’s time to end the social media posts and the press releases, and put some more police officers into our communities.”

A Liberal Democrat petition calling for the role to be scrapped can be signed at https://www.centralbedslibdems.org.uk/scrapthepcc

by Euan Duncan
Local Democracy Reporter