Northamptonshire’s Neighbourhood Watch chairman fears he will have to pick up the tab after police cut fund

Chairman of Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch Association Ian Fearnley, centre, says he feels let down by the cut to his and his colleague's expenses budget.
Chairman of Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch Association Ian Fearnley, centre, says he feels let down by the cut to his and his colleague's expenses budget.
  • Chairman of Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch ‘saddened’ by decision to cut £2,500 that helped cover his travel expenses
  • Ian Fearnley works 30 hours a week to keep watch scheme going in the county - and spends £3,000 of his own money
  • Police service says neighbourhood watch must raise its own funds and bid for grants

A funding cut to the Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch scheme has left the county chairman with a £4,125 a year bill to keep the service going.

Northamptonshire Police had pledged to ‘further develop’ the watch scheme across the county in its latest police and crime plan.

That payment was really a token of thanks for the work we do for them

Chairman of Northamptonshire Neighbourhood Watch Association Ian Fearnley

But a £2,500 fund it usually gives to share between the chair and co-chairman of the county association - a fraction of the force’s £120,000 overall budget - has been axed.

Chairman Ian Fearnley said the money was split equally between him and the co-chair to help them with travel expenses throughout the year.

But as he already uses £3,000 of his own money every year to keep the watch service running across Northamptonshire, Mr Fearnley is saddened by the decision.

He said: “From my point of view the police get a lot of information from our volunteer and members that help them to solve a lot of crime.

“That payment was really a token of thanks for the work we do for them.”

Mr Fearnely says he spends up to 30 hours a week carrying out work for the county neighbourhood watch scheme, which he runs from his home in Bozeat.

That time, he says, is largely spent on administration, answering queries from the public, setting up new neighbourhood watch schemes and attending community meetings at all times of the day.

“I can get called anywhere from near Peterborough in the north to Towcester in the south to go to a meeting,” he said. “That money just about paid for the motoring at 40p a mile.”

Mr Fearnley has been told that he needs to look into ways of funding his work independently, such as holding fundraising events.

Police and Crime Commisioner Adam Simmonds has also pledged £10,000 to the watch service in Northamptonshire, though it is understood this money is for community projects and cannot be used to help with Mr Fearnley or his co-chairman’s expenses.

A spokesperson for the police said: “Northamptonshire Police has supported Neighbourhood Watch for many years, working with them in their role as an independent organisation.

“The £2,500 previously granted to Neighbourhood Watch was allocated to them to spend how they wanted; it was not specifically given to pay for mileage.

“Funding arrangements have changed for many of the local organisations we work with, and support has been given to Neighbourhood Watch to help them bid for other grants that support the police and crime plan in more specific ways.”