Breaking: Voters reject Beds Police tax hike

Bedfordshire has voted ‘no’ on a referendum to hike the police council tax precept.
PCC Olly MartinsPCC Olly Martins
PCC Olly Martins

On Thursday voters were asked if they supported a 15.8% increase, amounting to 48p extra a week for band D homeowners.

This afternoon it was announced that 207,551 voted against the proposal, while 91,086 voted for the hike

The referendum was orchestrated by police and crime commissioner Olly Martins to raise an extra £4.5m a year for the force, which he says is desperately short of government funding.

Mr Martins planned to use the warchest to pay for a hundred new officers across the county.

Around thirty would have been allocated to Central Bedfordshire, 25 to Luton and 20 to Bedford.

The other 25 would have been integrated into safeguarding teams.

> During a visit to Luton’s Vauxhall plant in February, Prime Minister David Cameron slammed plans for the referendum.

He said: “What we have done is made available the funding that is necessary and you can see that by the fact that crime here in this force has fallen over the last four years.

“The police have done a good job, the percentage of officers on the front line has gone up, they have got crime down and I don’t think the police and crime commissioner is right to want to increase the amount of council tax in this way.

“Under our rules he’ll have to have a referendum and the local people will decide but I do not want to see taxes go up in the way that he is proposing.

“I think the police can find further efficiencies and continue to do the excellent work they do.”

He added: “The chief constable will make her own case but crime is falling.

“Full credit to the police, they managed to do more with less and I think there are further efficiencies they can find; co-ordinating with other forces to make sure they share some of the costs.

“They should exhaust all those processes before putting taxpayers’ bills up.”