THE CHAIRMAN of Hampshire Crimestoppers is to join the race to become the county’s new police commissioner, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Simon Hayes plans to officially launch his campaign in the next week, becoming the first independent candidate for the £85,000-a-year job.

The 53-year-old is a former Conservative councillor, having served on the county council and led New Forest District Council.

But he insisted he was now “free of political constraints” and no longer a member of the Tory party, having last served as a councillor in 2005.

He said: “My elected political days are behind me now. Life has moved on.

“I have seen what it’s like, and the pressure that is put on political candidates – and I feel liberated by being able to stand as an independent.”

However, he admitted: “I just wait for the backlash from people who have known me politically.”

Mr Hayes, who lives in Bishop’s Waltham, is also a former chairman of Hampshire Police Authority, the organisation that is being replaced by the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner, and is a director of the Perham Trust, which works with ex-offenders.

Despite his party political past, he plans to stand against the “politicisation” of the police, hoping his experience in criminal justice matters will win him votes. He said it was inevitable that candidates representing one of the major parties would be influenced by national politics , saying this was “distasteful”.

He added: “I am sure that all of us feel very strongly about the possibility of political interference in policing.”

Mr Hayes joins Conservative candidate and former MP Michael Mates and Labour nomination Jacqui Rayment, a Southampton councillor and until recently the chairman of Hampshire Police Authority, both pictured below. The Lib Dems are also planning to put someone forward.

Yesterday independent candidates from across the country complained they were being frozen out by the rules governing the November 15 elections.

Unlike in parliamentary elections, every candidate has not been allowed one free mail shot, with ministers saying this would be too expensive. A letter was presented to Downing Street saying this was “perverse and undemocratic”.