PCC envious of Herts cuts

Olly Martins faces having to ask Bedfordshire's council tax payers to fork out more for the force
Olly Martins faces having to ask Bedfordshire's council tax payers to fork out more for the force

Bedfordshire’s police chief has admitted his is ‘envious’ of his Hertfordshire contemporary David Lloyd, who has proposed a cut in the policing portion of next year’s council tax bill.

Police and crime commissioner Olly Martins said Hertfordshire does not face the same level of high-risk crimes as Bedfordshire, and is better funded.

Mr Lloyd, who will stand again as the Tory candidate in the 2016 PCC elections, said his force has ‘high levels of reserves’ and can afford to take less money from the taxpayer.

Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Neil Alston has said he is ‘staggered’ by the idea.

Herts Police currently has £48.6m in reserves and saw its funding cut by just £600k to £188m after the government’s last spending review.

The force’s bill of health is a far cry from the situation facing Beds Police, which, according to Mr Martins, has the worst financial position of any constabulary in the UK.

Speaking to the Bedford Times and Citizen, Mr Martins admitted he is ‘envious’ of Mr Lloyd.

He said: “Without the high-risk crime issues we have in Bedfordshire, and if we were was as well funded as Hertfordshire, perhaps I could consider a reduction too, instead of famously having to trigger a council tax referendum in an attempt to secure adequate funding for our police.

“Hertfordshire has the lowest gun crime of any police force whilst we have the fourth highest, yet our level of funding and therefore police officer numbers are almost the same.

“This exposes how defective the current funding arrangements are. Yet, when they unveiled their proposed new funding formula the government incredibly wanted to cut our grant whilst massively increasing that of Hertfordshire!”

He continued: “Although the Chancellor said in his Autumn Statement police funding was being ‘protected’, the settlement figures from the Home Office last month delivered a cut of £400,000 in our grant and mean that we need to find £5.8million overall for 2015/16.

“So I am likely to have to consider increasing the police precept by the 2 per cent maximum as the alternative is untenable cuts to our police strength.”