New Liberal Democrat police commissioner candidate Pete Levy has said the voices of people in Somerset villages must not be drowned out by Bristol.
The former police officer and military man has been chosen as his party’s contender to be the first elected Avon & Somerset Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) in November’s election.
He feels he understands both Avon and Somerset, which have markedly different policing priorities, and is stressing he is not a career politician.
In some parts of the country current and former MPs are dominating the contests, with figures such as ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott standing.
Mr Levy is a councillor in the Horfield ward in Bristol, but only since May 2010, while he became a member of Avon & Somerset Police Authority the following month.
He was born in West Coker and raised as the eldest of five in the Yeovil area, becoming interested in politics after hearing Paddy Ashdown speak, when he was the town’s MP.
After a spell with the Wiltshire Constabulary, as a police cadet and then a police constable, before joining the Royal Military Police for six years, including several attachments with the Special Investigations Branch.
He has held senior positions with national security organisations, and spent 15 years working in international corporate and broadcast production. Mr Levy believes his police, military and communications background gives him the experience to do the job.
The Lib Dems, like Labour, originally opposed the idea of elected police commissioners, and he says: “We made our views known, but it has become legislation and we can’t turn it back.”
Mr Levy was worried about the cost of switching to the new system, and there was also the issue of representing both Avon and Somerset.
“How would someone in Bristol understand the police requirements in Ilminster, and vice versa? There are some people who think Avon & Somerset is just another way to spell Bristol.”
Mr Levy was also influenced by “listening to politicians talking nonsense” after last summer’s riots, and concerned they would try to win votes by promising to tell the police what to do.
“It is not part of the job to tell the chief constable what to do, but working with them, as they are the policing professionals.”