Beds PCC rows with Leighton-Linslade Town Council after it rejects £31k PCSO request

The offices of Leighton-Linslade Town Council; inset, PCC Kathryn Holloway
The offices of Leighton-Linslade Town Council; inset, PCC Kathryn Holloway

Beds Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has kicked back at Leighton-Linslade Town Council after it rejected her request to fund £31,200 for a parish PCSO.

In an angry missive, Mrs Holloway threatened to keep the town council out of the loop of future policing developments.

Mrs Holloway claimed her PCSO funding request (previously reported here) – which was sent to over 100 parish councils – was a “private letter” and accused a town councillor of leaking it to the press.

In fact, the letter was published on the town council’s website as part of its agenda before the full council meeting on January 28.

In its rejection of the PCSO funding request, the town council stated: “Policing numbers in the third largest town in Bedfordshire remain wholly inadequate. The employment of an additional PCSO would do little to tackle the current levels of crime or indeed the fear of crime.

“The town council has no intention to use its ‘substantial’ reserves to subsidise the police service.”

Mrs Holloway responded: “I entirely reject your suggestion that a PCSO makes little or no difference; this highlights the sad fact that some councillors are prepared to make statements publicly, as if factually based, when they have limited understanding of the realities of policing.

“Since town councillors in your area are the most vocal in the county in their criticism of police numbers and police service, I am deeply disappointed they appear to have decided not to seek any public engagement whatever before rejecting this offer to explore the possibility.

“This seems to fly in the fact of their democratic requirement and I would like them to rethink this.

“Lastly, of well over 100 parish and town councils who received my private letter, only a Leighton-Linslade councillor chose to discuss this with the media without further discussion with me.

“This will obviously inform the way in which I correspond with the council in future, and it too may find itself learning of significant policing initiatives, of the type I am planning this Spring, via the pages of the local paper rather than being placed in the trusted position of having its opinion sought by me in advance.”

To read Mrs Holloway’s letter in full, click here.

A Leighton-Linslade Town Council spokesman said its policy and finance committee would decide at its next meeting on Monday whether to respond to Mrs Holloway.

He added: “There is no reason why we should have dealt with her proposal in a closed session.

“Firstly, it was a generic email to all parishes within Bedfordshire and secondly, there was no request that it be considered as privileged.”

Former chair of the town council’s police liaison committee, Cllr Amanda Dodwell said: “The confrontational tone of Kathryn Holloway’s letter is disappointing and somewhat surprising given her position.

“Sadly, the letter comes across as ill-conceived, and serves to reinforce the widely held view that her priorities lie elsewhere.

“She implies that a Leighton Linslade Town Councillor ‘leaked’ a ‘private’ letter to the press. I have seen the letter, and I have commented on it in both the LBO and in interviews with BBC 3CR and Look East. However, it was not ‘leaked’ – it was published as part of a council agenda – and it was not marked as ‘private’ or ‘confidential’.

“If she wishes to keep her communications out of the public domain then perhaps she should classify her letters accordingly. Indeed, she might have been well advised to have marked this most recent letter as ‘confidential’ to stop the residents of Leighton-Linslade seeing her true colours.

“To suggest that she will break off direct contact with the town council, and that we will only learn about new initiatives through the press, is churlish. She clearly does not like any scrutiny or criticism.

“Despite all of this, I believe that local residents and councillors have a very good relationship with the local policing team. We understand the pressures they are under, and we know they give 110% to the local community. It is a pity that the PCC has not made the effort to build a good relationship with the town.

“The residents of Leighton Linslade are our priority, and when we see the town getting such a bad deal from Bedfordshire Police we will hold the PCC to account. She cannot take our support for granted.”