WILTSHIRE and Swindon Liberal Democrats have switched their candidate for the re-run of the Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner election in August.

They have announced that Wiltshire councillor Dr Brian Mathew will replace their previous candidate Liz Webster who is not seeking the nomination for personal and family reasons.

The re-run was called after the Conservative Party disbarred their candidate Jonathon Seed for the poll on May 6, saying that a 30-year-old drink driving conviction meant he would not be able to take up the post.

The Thames Valley Police have been called in by Wiltshire Police to mount an independent investigation into the affair.

In endorsing Dr Brian Mathew and explaining her decision Liz Webster said: “Having had some time to reflect since the botched Wiltshire & Swindon PCC election, I am sorry to disappoint supporters and announce I will not be putting my name forward to be the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner By-election on Thursday, August 19.

“Like everyone else outside the leadership of the Conservative Party, I was shocked to discover the news of their disgraceful actions in not telling voters that their candidate, Jonathon Seed had been convicted of a drink driving offence and so was ineligible to stand for election as PCC.

“The delay in making that statement until after the polls had closed was cynical and disgraceful. Had voters known about it before they voted, I believe I would have been elected and would now be hard at work as the new Police and Crime Commissioner.

“That action means a new election costing taxpayers around £1.5 million and today I renew my call on the Conservative Party to pay this bill as they are the cause of it.

“When I learned there would have to be a by-election, I assumed that just like when an MP or Councillor resigns or dies‎, that election would take place promptly, only to discover it will not happen for three months.

“This was an exhausting election campaign and the prospect of another three months of campaigning simply does not work for me for personal and family reasons.

“So I am disappointed to say that I am stepping away from the candidacy, but I will still be working with the campaign team and I am delighted my good friend Cllr Dr Brian Mathew is stepping up.

“Finally I want to thank the 58,074 people who voted for me in May and everyone who helped me in the campaign, including my brilliant campaign team and my agent.

‎”Brian will make an outstanding Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon. He fought strongly to win this post five years ago and has been an active and respected participant on the Police and Crime Panel for the last four years. I will do all I can to get him elected.

“I urge everyone to get behind Brian on Thursday, August 19 and by so doing, get an excellent Police and Crime Commissioner and teach the Conservatives a lesson at the ballot box they will never forget. That is that they cannot treat our residents, police service and taxpayers with such contempt.”

Speaking after Liz's decision, Cllr Dr Brian Mathew said: "Liz’s campaign captured the public imagination and if justice were being done she would have been declared the winner of the first election.

“I am determined to build on her great work. As a longstanding member of the Police and Crime Panel, I understand the responsibilities of the Police and Crime Commissioner and what it takes to serve our residents and communities.

“I have a clear, practical programme to make our streets, homes and communities safer places to live, work and visit.‎ I want our police to be more visible in our communities and work more closely with councils, community safety volunteers and civic groups to achieve that goal.

“I will review decisions taken to close police stations, harness technology to fight crime online and on our streets and recognise that the environment matters in everything we do.

“My focus will also be taking effective action to prevent crime and engaging with young people who may be heading down the wrong path.

“The result of the May election shows our next Police and Crime Commissioner will either be me or a Conservative. I am absolutely up for this battle and teaching the Conservatives their unforgettable lesson; that they cannot waste £1.5m of taxpayers’ money or treat voters with such contempt.

“Consequently, I call on those who did, and indeed did not vote for Liz in May, to get behind me and deliver a resounding victory for respect for our police and fellow residents, greater community safety and proper standards for elected representatives in public life.”

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