The moment of truth for our new Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner has arrived. One of his main responsibilities is to set the budget for Northamptonshire Police. So, has he put his money where his mouth is?
There were howls of protest from the public, media and Liberal Democrats when he outlined plans for an £800,000 commission days after the election, which he promptly stuffed with political aides on salaries up to £65k.
Guess what? Nothing has changed in this budget – it’s still jobs for the boys and girls. Still an £800k commission, which could even be more if you read the small print. If his election agent, press officer and the former Conservative political assistant at County Hall don’t retain those plum jobs once the interim tag comes off I will eat my hat.
He has put forward his eye-catching pledge for a reservist force. But like all shiny deals you’d better check the details. That’s where you’ll see that they will only be paid for 20 days a year. Where’s the money coming from? Well that is interesting - new spending relies on cutting funding available for another 45 full-time police officers.
So our Tory PCC has opened up his term by slashing funds for frontline policing in favour of cronyism and gimmicks. He has completely ignored the public’s wishes for more officers on our streets and the huge wave of protest over his sprawling back office stuffed with political cronies.
Given he learnt his trade under the County Tories who switched off half our streetlights and slashed money for PCSOs and road safety, while spending £80k on their travel allowances, £3180 on an oil painting and refused calls from the Liberal Democrats to cut the pay of the top Councillors is it any wonder he thinks this is an acceptable way to run our county’s Police force?
Cllr Marion Minney
Lib Dem, Headlands Division
Northamptonshire County Council