Firstly, I am continually impressed by the FSB. They go out of their way to engage members in the politics that affect them and last night there were around 60 people crowded into a room at the Maidstone Hilton - all asking tough questions of the candidates. They are also a phenomenally friendly bunch!
One one overriding impression from the hustings was that people do not want Party Politics in policing. The show of hands for whether the PCC should be a party person or not looked like 100% against. I'm very glad that Kent Greens decided not to stand!
There was a significant debate on whether party labels were useful or not. In many respects I feel they are - voting for a party gives the additional assurance that the candidate has been vetted by a group and will act in line with a core philosophy. It is much harder to get that assurance with independent candidates as they will not be personally known by most of the electorate.
Having initially decided to spoil my ballot paper, last night changed my mind: I shall be voting for Ann Barnes. While I don't know her personally, she has a track record from being the former chair of Kent Police Authority and is likely to be the main rival to the Tories. And while I have had issues with Kent Police over their handling of Kingsnorth and their stance on 20mph limits, I can be certain that the Tories with their professed 'tough' stance on policing would be further from what I want than Ann.
Kent Police did learn from the Kingsnorth camp and Ann has tweeted her support for 20mph limits (where there is local support) so she seems to be someone I can work with. Let's hope she wins.