A short survey seeking Bedfordshire people’s views about a proposed huge increase in what they pay towards policing is now online.
As reported in last week’s LBO, Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins wants to push up Beds Police’s council tax precept by 15.85%.
Former Leighton mayor and Central Beds Councillor Amanda Dodwell, who has had many spats with Mr Martins over policing of the town, has said she would back the increase if there were guarantees that Leighton would benefit from an increased police presence.
Mr Martins says the increase will raise funds for 100 extra police officers, enabling police constables to return to neighbourhood policing teams. However, Government rules say an increase of this amount can only happen if supported by the public in a referendum.
He is hoping that a huge number of residents will complete his online survey so that he can gauge public support ahead of potential referendum to tie in with General Election voting on May 7.
He said: “Before I put finalise my budget and present my plans to the Police and Crime Panel, it is really is vital that I know the public’s views,” he said.
“If the public are supportive, this increase would not only pay for an extra 100 police officers but it would mean that our police strength would not need to be cut until 2021, by which time I would reasonably expect that we would have seen changes to the way we are funded.
“Like me, residents constantly say they want to see more officers on the streets. This is our chance to help achieve that despite the continuing underfunding by the Government.”
Residents can see the survey at http://www.bedspcc.org.
Mr Martins added: “What they tell me, and whatever the outcome, their views are pivotal in helping to determine the way forward,” he said.
Chairman of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel Fiona Chapman said of Mr Martins’ proposed tax hike: “Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for determining the priorities for Bedfordshire Police and setting the budget to achieve this.
“Clearly neighbourhood policing is a priority which needs to be in place across Bedfordshire. As chair of Bedfordshire Police and Crime panel I welcome greater consultation with the public over these proposals and I urge everyone to have their say by taking part in this consultation.”
The Police and Crime Panel will consider the budget proposals from the Commissioner at its next meeting on February 5.