PCC slams Bedford & Kempston MP for talking ‘utter rubbish’ over council tax referendum

Olly Martins
Olly Martins

Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins has ripped into MP Richard Fuller for comments made during an interviewgiven after Monday’s council tax referendum result.

In a letter to the Tory MP, Olly Martins wrote: “Congratulations on your re-election but you were talking utter rubbish on BBC Look East last night (Tuesday).

“I was struck that your public position on the police referendum now seems somewhat clearer than it was before the vote/general election.”

Mr Martins went on to argue that the referendum was a necessary evil, before adding: “Of course if you think scoring political points is more important than presenting a united front to resolve the longstanding underfunding of Bedfordshire Police that is a matter for you.”

During the televised interview on Monday night Mr Fuller blasted the PCC for ‘very poor judgement’.

He added: “(Olly Martins) is the only PCC across the country who cannot live within a budget increase of 2 per cent, he asked for 16 per cent.

“He was pretty much given a open field to make his case, he failed to do so, lost the referendum and as a result the taxpayers in Bedfordshire are now £600,000 down on the amount of money we have to support our police.”

On Thursday last week voters across the Chronicle Country were asked if they supported a 15.8 percent police precept increase, amounting to 48p extra a week for band D homeowners.

The plan was roundly dismissed at the polls, as 207,551 of 301,799 votes cast (68.7 percent) were against the hike.

Across Central Bedfordshire the 42,682 voting ‘yes’ were vastly outnumbered by the 91,716 who voted ‘no’.

Mr Martins said that the decision will result in a recruitment freeze in the next 18 to 24 months and a reduction of up to 135 police officers.

The referendum was orchestrated by Mr Martins to raise an extra £4.5m a year for the force as well as paying for 100 new officers.

The PCC and Chief Constable Colette Paul now intend to meet with Home Secretary Theresa May.