Bedfordshire's police and crime commissioner has "no regrets" about standing in by-election

Bedfordshire's police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye. Image supplied by OPCCBedfordshire's police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye. Image supplied by OPCC
Bedfordshire's police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye. Image supplied by OPCC
He added claims he had been on leave since June were "absolute nonsense"

Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner said he has “no regrets” about trying to be Mid Bedfordshire’s next MP, and claims that he had been on leave since June were “absolute nonsense”.

Yesterday’s Police and Crime Panel (October 24) was the first panel meeting since last week’s by-election where the police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye, was the Conservative candidate.

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Councillor Patrick Hamill (Central Bedfordshire Council) asked: “Given the trust in Beds Police, especially in solving local crime if you like, does the PCC regret not standing down or would you do the same again?”

The PCC replied: “I have no regret in choosing to take part in the democratic process. Absolutely no regrets whatsoever at all. Why would I regret that?”

Councillor Hamill said that some residents might not have differentiated between actions taken as a PCC and those taken by a candidate.

“I’ve seen a lot of complaints coming forward because of your actions instanding,” he said.

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“Because it is a public role – you’re representing the residents as a PCC.

“In hindsight, would it have been better for you to stand down [as PCC] so the public trust would not be damaged as it has been?” he asked.

The PCC said another PCC has been selected by the Labour Party to be a metro mayor candidate in May.

He added that if councillor Hamill decided to stand again as a PCC candidate he would still be a councillor.

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“I’m sure people will not be mistaking you for something else,” the PCC said.

“I think we need to get over it and accept that people in public office stand for public office while they are in public office.”

Councillor Ghulam Abbas (Luton Borough Council) said: “On behalf of the residents of Luton, how much paid leave was taken [by the PCC] over the last three months?

“This is a question a lot of Luton residents are asking, particularly since the last month we’ve had about seven stabbings and two fatalities,” he said.

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The PCC said suggestions in the press that he had cost taxpayers around £20,000 since the election was called were “erroneous and false”.

“[It was assumed] that I had been on annual leave since June, which is absolute nonsense,” he said.

“I took official leave, I believe, in the middle of September.

“But what I would say is I have never known a time as commissioner where I took annual leave and where I was not having to deal with some PCC-related role.

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“I feel that given the nature of my responsibility [as PCC] if a matter of crisis arises I need to make myself available,” he said.

“[I was] on annual leave during the time of the fatal stabbings in Luton, but I was in the meeting with all the head teachers in Luton because I had to be there to support and help find solutions to these issues.”