In May 2016 voters in Avon and Somerset will have the opportunity to choose the next Police and Crime Commissioner.
The successful applicant would be steering the strategic direction of the police, sorting out the current problems and issues facing the constabulary. Prior to this, the Conservative party has undertaken a selection process and have two candidates who will stand at three open primary hustings across the region in October. Any registered voter can attend these events and help choose the final candidate, irrespective of their own political allegiance and views.
The candidates are David Kenyon and Mark Weston. BASC contacted both candidates and sought their stance and views on shooting so that we could advise our members accordingly.
They issued us with the following statements:
David Kenyon – Shooting is in my blood
“Born in rural Herefordshire, I learned to shoot on a local farm with a .410. I was lucky in my youth to be able to walk up hedgerows and ferret for rabbits. After 19 years in the British Army I spent four years working in the South and South West for BASC and then four years as Director for England and Wales for the British Deer Society. I regularly shoot game and occasionally wildfowl. I gained the Deer Manager’s certificate in 2010 and hold a firearms licence as well as a shotgun certificate. My position on shooting sports is that they are an essential part of the fabric of the countryside and make a significant contribution to the rural economy. If I do become the Police and Crime Commissioner in Avon and Somerset, you will not just have a supporter, but a knowledgeable advocate who will seek to promote all field sports and educate ill-informed and prejudiced individuals, both within the region and at a national level as part of the Association of PCC’s.
Pressures on policing budgets are tight and firearms licensing has come under significant pressure with long and often unacceptable delays. Many of the old style Firearms Licensing officers (FEO) have gone and often visits are being undertaken by police officers who have little knowledge of the law and legally held firearms. I cannot promise to bring the FEOs back, but I can promise to ensure that officers making visits receive training so that they are aware of the legal background, what a shotgun looks like, and also that they should realise that they are entering the homes of law-abiding citizens who are to be treated with respect and courtesy.
My website is at www.davidkenyon.org”
Cllr Mark Weston – Shooting Sports and Firearms Licensing
“I have always been a firm supporter of recreational shooting and all countryside sports. My father was the founding member of the Denbigh and West Cheshire Full Bore and Rifle Club. I spent many enjoyable days at the RAF Sealand Rifle and Seacombe Pistol range. From an early age the need to treat guns responsibly was drilled into me. Striking the right balance in gun control and firearms licensing is of vital importance if we are to protect recreational shooting. Not only is it an enjoyable pastime, but also over 10,000 jobs rely on shooting in the South West alone (generating over £250m for the regional economy). If selected as Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate, I would campaign to ensure that a responsible balance is achieved, one in which we protect shooting sports and the general public. In some cases this means improving existing rules. For example, under the current system, doctors are under no legal obligation to answer police requests for information about the health of applicants, even if a patient suffers from a mental condition that might affect their judgement while in possession of a firearm. In other cases it means working to prevent proscriptive legislation from damaging the sport, such as the work I did in support of the Countryside Alliances’ Lead Shot Campaign in 2012. This was when the European Chemical Agency began looking into the possibility of banning the use of lead shot across the continent. As I have said, I am a supporter of countryside and shooting sports and will actively campaign to ensure they can be enjoyed responsibly by all those that wish to, and ensuring the continued protection of the public.”
If you want to have your say, you need to be registered to vote in Avon and Somerset and be registered to attend one of the hustings by Wednesday 14 October.
The hustings are taking place at:
Friday 16 October – North Petherton – Evening
Saturday 17 October – Westbury on Trym – Morning
Saturday 17 October – Somerton – Afternoon
Exact times and locations will be confirmed on registration.
Go and listen to them speak, work out who’s the right candidate for you and cast your vote.