The battle to be the person who holds the police to account has erupted into a war of words between two Bedford PCC election rivals.
Incumbent Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins has accused contender Kathryn Holloway of displaying “breathtaking arrogance” and likened her behaviour to a bull in a china shop.
Tory Mrs Holloway has hit back with a formal complaint blasting Labour’s Mr Martins for “spending money hand over fist” and slamming his actions as unacceptable and potentially unethical.
Ironically the cause of their outbursts is nothing but worthy: giving away public money to good causes.
Mrs Holloway is cross because Mr Martins has invited charities and organisations to apply for his Victim Support and Community Safety Fund grants to fund them for the next 12 months.
With the May election date looming, she says she should not be tied to supporting causes chosen by Mr Martins if she succeeds in ousting him.
“I have my own clear thoughts on how I would invest these funds, especially in the areas of victim support and restorative justice – giving victims a say in how criminals are dealt with,” said Mrs Holloway, who would also spend some of the cash on helping victims of child abuse and domestic violence.
She has raised a formal complaint with the Police and Crime Panel and proposed the grants awarded by Mr Martins be cut to three months instead of 12.
Mr Martins’ retort was immediate: “This demonstrates breathtaking arrogance on the part of my Tory rival. Not a single vote has been cast for her, yet she is already trying to throw her weight around as though she has won.”
He said the Community Safety Fund support was agreed in partnership with Central Beds, Bedford and Luton councils, while the Victim Funding comes from the Ministry of Justice and has to be returned if it is not all spent within 12 months.
He also accused Mrs Holloway of failing to appreciate hand-to-mouth existence of charities. “Stop their funding and some of them simply won’t survive,” he said.
“By behaving like a bull in a china shop the Conservative candidate is showing she hasn’t got a clue about working in partnership. To me it seems she would be an utter disaster as PCC.”
The final word went to Mrs Holloway, who said:“This is a gross distortion of the actual position.
“Senior staff at Beds Police and in the charity world tell me they question Mr Martins allocating funding for the full next year immediately before an election. He will be committing his successor to his own charity programme for a full quarter of their period in office.”