PCC Olly Martins slams MP for ‘talking utter rubbish’ over referendum

PCC Olly Martins has repeatedly appealed for more fundingPCC Olly Martins has repeatedly appealed for more funding
PCC Olly Martins has repeatedly appealed for more funding
Police and crime commissioner Olly Martins has ripped into an MP for comments made during an interview, which was given after Monday’s council tax referendum result.

In a letter to Richard Fuller, Tory MP for Bedford, 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.”

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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%, he asked for 16%.

“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.”

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On Thursday voters across the county were asked if they supported a 15.8% 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%) were against the hike.

With the referendum costing the force £600,000– which includes the cost of refunding taxpayers– calls have been made for Mr Martins to resign.

However the PCC has signalled his intent to remain in place.

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He said: “While this is a very disappointing result it would be self indulgent and irresponsible for me to walk away. A by-election would cost over a million pounds to hold and given that the issue is a lack of finances I don’t think that would be a very sensible use of public money.

“(The cost) was £600,000 but it was in an endeavour to fill a £6 million looming financial shortfall.”

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.

He added: “Bedfordshire Police faces serious urban challenges but is funded as though it is a small rural force.

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“As a result it has the worst financial position of any police force in the UK.”

The referendum was orchestrated by Mr Martins to raise an extra £4.5m a year for the force.

Mr Martins planned to use the warchest to pay for a hundred new officers across the county.

The PCC and chief constable Colette Paul now intend to meet with Home Secretary Theresa May to make a case for extra funds