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'People's policeman' challenges Alun bid.

Byline: Matt Withers

ALUN MICHAEL faces a serious challenge in his bid to become South Wales' first elected police commissioner after a trio of senior Welsh Labour figures threw their support behind a rival.

Former First Secretary Mr Michael is seeking the Labour nomination to run for the role when it is elected for the first time in November and a number of heavyweight figures, including former rival Rhodri Morgan, fell in line behind him.

But it emerged yesterday that three high-profile Labour names - Education Minister Leighton Andrews, Business Minister Edwina Hart and Rhondda MP Chris Bryant - were backing the campaign of a councillor and former policeman, Paul Cannon.

Mr Andrews even appears to be running the campaign of Mr Cannon, a frontline officer of 30 years turned Rhondda Cynon Taf councillor who has received the Queen's Police Medal.

His campaign formally launches today with a website, Twitter feed and a slogan, "the people's policeman".

Mr Cannon is putting restoring public faith in, and support for, the police and criminal justice system at the centre of his campaign, saying "it is absolutely essential that we have public support as we move forward".

He said: "The commissioner must be someone who is determined to deliver practical and meaningful progress within community safety for the benefit of all, which will have a sustained and positive effect in all areas of South Wales.

"I am committed to fulfilling and enhancing that role.

"With a career as a police officer which saw me recognised for many innovative and pioneering schemes, followed by a record of applying Labour Party values in a position of executive responsibility in relation to crime and justice, I intend to make a genuine positive impact should my candidacy be successful.

"I am used to the rough and tumble of political campaigns. In 2004, in my first election, I defeated the sitting Plaid Cymru councillor, winning a convincing Labour majority." He immediately announced the support of Mr Andrews and Mr Bryant, who represent Rhondda in Cardiff Bay and Westminster respectively, along with Ms Hart.

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Mr Michael has already unveiled high-profile supporters in Mr Morgan, who replaced him as First Secretary, Heritage Minister Huw Lewis and Deputy Social Services Minister Gwenda Thomas.

Mr Andrews said: "Paul would be an excellent choice for Police Commissioner.

"He was the people's policeman, serving communities with challenging problems."

Mr Bryant said: "I have known Paul Cannon as a muchrespected senior police officer and hardworking Labour councillor here in the Rhondda for more than a decade. He would make a cracking Labour candidate and even more importantly a dynamic commissioner." Whoever wins the Labour nomination will face Falklands veteran Simon Weston, who is standing as an independent.


* Paul Cannon and, below, Alun Michael
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 16, 2012
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