‘Comments are surprising in the extreme’ - PCC hits back at criticism from Leighton Buzzard councillor

PCC Kathryn Holloway
PCC Kathryn Holloway

Bedfordshire PCC Kathryn Holloway has hit back at criticisms from a Leighton Buzzard councillor about policing levels in the town.

This week, the Leighton Buzzard Observer reported on the PCC’s upcoming visit to Astral Park Community Centre on July 30 amid concerns from the public about police presence in the town.

In our report, Cllr Amanda Dodwell criticised the current policing hub as a “token gesture” and said that recent meetings held by senior officers in the town showed that the force could manage without a PCC.

In her response, Mrs Holloway has stated: “I find Cllr Dodwell’s comments surprising in the extreme since she was part of the Police and Crime Panel which holds me to account and has, therefore, been fully briefed on operational policing deployments.

“As such she was sighted on the recruitment and deployment of the Community Policing Hub for Leighton Buzzard, precisely as promised and concerning the full appointment of all Community Hubs across the county.

“It is for others to speculate as to the motive for misleading the public into believing that this has not happened.

“I am particularly mystified by Cllr Dodwell’s remarks concerning politics. As anyone who has listened to me in this role over the past two years will know, I don’t drag politics into policing.

“This second meeting is to give the residents of Leighton Buzzard a second bite of the cherry and to hear from the Deputy Chief Constable and myself on this occasion as well as the town’s Community Policing Team. This will mean that Bedfordshire Police, with my full support, has held two public meetings in the town in a month.”

The PCC also shrugged off a Parliamentary petition launched by a disgruntled Leighton Buzzard resident calling upon her to resign.

She said: “In terms of the petition, goodness knows in this job you can’t please all of the people all of the time and the response to the Leighton Buzzard Community Policing Facebook page from the get go showed that very many of the responses were supportive.”

In 2016, Mrs Holloway launched her election campaign to become PCC with a promise to return visible community policing to Leighton Buzzard, along with other towns in Bedfordshire.

The LBO asked Mrs Holloway whether the current community team fulfilled the visible policing she had promised the town before her election.

Mrs Holloway stated: “It fulfils exactly what was promised in terms of both the number of officers and the location in which they are based – now located in a building the public already pay for, the Community Fire Station, right at the centre of Leighton Buzzard, just off the High Street where demand is centred rather than in the old police station which was set at a distance from this.”

The PCC added that she had been successful in raising government funding for the force and defended her claim to be “knocking on an open door” for fund before the election.

Mrs Holloway said: “It did not fail. I played a significant part in winning an improved settlement for policing as a whole, after speaking very robustly and without any political bias whatever before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

“As a result I have £2.988m more to spend this year and will be supporting the recruitment of between 110-130 new recruits in each of the next two years of my term, in addition to the 206 new officers already recruited into Bedfordshire Police while I have been PCC, the overwhelming majority of whom have gone into Community Policing.

“I don’t believe that anyone could justly view that record as a failure.”

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