Labour candidate Paddy Tipping was elected as Nottinghamshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in November 2012. He beat the runner up candidate, Malcolm Spencer, by 13,000 votes despite the low election turnout of 16%. Impact’s James Rathbone interviewed Tipping, asking him about his views on the election turnout, his manifesto pledges and the relationship between students and the police.
What experience do you have to prepare you for this role?
I’ve lived and worked in Nottingham since I came to university in 1969, so I’ve got more than 43 years experience with the city. I’ve been involved in local politics in Nottinghamshire: I was here at County Hall for 12 years, I was Chair of the Nottingham Community foundation and I was a community organizer.
So that, and my 18 years as MP, means that I know my way around the city and the county, and a lot of people know me. Most people like me, but I know there are one or two who’ve got me on their shit list, but by and large people know that I stand up for people in Nottinghamshire.
You were elected with 55.5% of the vote but only on a 16.4% turnout. Do you think that gives you a mandate for your role?
Well it is difficult and a very disappointing turnout, but if you think about it, the number of votes I got is more votes than any other politician in Nottinghamshire, so I’ve got more people supporting me than any other MP.
So within the rules I guess there’s a mandate but I need to persuade people that this post has got some value and that it can make a difference.
We’ll have to make it work. This is the biggest change in policing in 100 years, it’s a radical change, and I’m determined to give it my best shot.
There has been some dispute over the fact that the PCC position should not be politicised. What are your thoughts on this?
I’m going to demonstrate in Nottinghamshire that this is not a fair comment. I’ve been involved in local politics in one way or another for 40 years – no one has ever called me partisan.
Of the four candidates at the election, three of them have worked on issues with me before, and I’ve worked with councils of different political persuasions throughout my career.
I don’t think you’ll find me using the word Labour in any of the speeches I make.
Before you were elected, you stressed that you wanted to be a people’s commissioner not a police commissioner. What does this mean exactly?
We need someone that’s going to listen to the people, act, try and make change, listen again and then try and continue with the process.
I think one of the problems with the police in Nottinghamshire is I think there are parts in the city and the county where a few of the police don’t listen to the views of ordinary people, and that the police’s priorities aren’t local residents’ priorities. I think it’s going to be quite important to stick up and shout up for people.
There are around 60,000 to 80,000 students in Nottingham, making up 20-25% of the city’s population. How are you going to engage with this demographic?
I still occasionally teach at the University and over recent months I’ve been to talk to students at the University on probably four occasions, and I’m keen to develop that. I’m going to meet SU President Amos and have a discussion with him about how we can best do this.
Clearly I want to meet the needs of students, not just those on campus, as there’s a big student population in the Lenton area. I’ve got to find ways of talking to students that meet their needs and are effective for my time as well.
You talk about students in the Lenton area. Are you aware of the changing property development laws and car parking charges that are currently affecting students in this area?
These are not issues for me but I do have opinions on them. My own view is that the car parking charges are illegal and that we ought to take legal advice. There are a lot of students living in the Lenton area – it wouldn’t cost them much to club together and bring a challenge. The University has lots of resources as well, such as a good law school. I think students need to take the challenge and have a go for it.
And on the planning issue I think the situation is more difficult. I mean its not just Lenton. I was in Wollaton the other day talking to residents who were making the same case, although I don’t think the problem is anywhere near as heightened as in the Lenton area.
At the end of the day we have to recognise that students bring a lot of value, income and reputation to the city, and we need to treat them with respect.
Is this the final big political role you’re going to hold?
Yes. This is the last big challenge. One of the big regrets of my life is that I didn’t spend as much time with my children as I might have done, and I’m determined to spend more time with my grandkids.
I’m trying to have a better work-life balance than I previously have done. I want to watch them grow up – it’s quite important to me. And I want to make this role a success because of that.
James Rathbone and Antonia Paget