PCC says Bedford’s Mayor “misleading” over her efforts to increase police funding

Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway

Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner says Bedfordians have been misled over a political leaflet, made to look like a newspaper, that suggests she’s not doing enough to increase police funding.

PCC Kathryn Holloway has now called on Bedford’s Mayor Dave Hodgson, and the leading Liberal Democrat group, to stop being political and instead work with her for the greater good of Bedford residents.

In a statement, PCC Holloway said: “I don’t drag politics into policing and I was incredulous, frankly, to read this instruction in a leaflet posted through my own door.

“I have been driving the Bedfordshire Police fairer funding message home to the Government and MPs every single week for the whole of my time in office.

“Yet the Liberal Democrat group have [recently] distributed a leaflet… which stated: “Bedfordshire has a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner and she must also ask her Government to fund our Police, at least to the same level of other forces.””

As reported in the Bedford Independent back in November last year, PCC Holloway secured £4.571m of additional funding for Bedfordshire Police.

Read: £4.571m handed to Bedfordshire Police to tackle gang, gun and knife crime

The PCC also secured an additional £8m in funding for Bedfordshire Police in their 2019/20 budget, although £5.6m of that would only be available if council tax increases.

The council tax rise for next year’s budget is now being discussed across the county as part of a survey issued by the PCC’s office, asking residents if they are willing to pay £2 more a month on their council tax.

Read: Would you pay £2 more in Council Tax to increase police funding?

What has seemed to anger the PCC even more is that earlier this month (16 January), a meeting took place at Bedford Borough Hall with councillors of all parties, including the leading Liberal Democrat group.

PPC Holloway says attendees at the meeting welcomed the Commissioner’s approach to reintroduce and boost Community Policing and backed her commitment to recruit 160 more Constables.

The format of the political leaflet “North Bedfordshire Observer” was also questioned with PCC.

Despite a single line at the top in small print stating “Delivered by Lib Dem volunteers”, Holloway says the format suggests it was a newspaper.

“I am a former news reporter who has worked across local, regional and national news for more than 20 years.” adds PCC Holloway “I know people tend to trust editorial in newspapers which has been written by independent journalists much more than political leaflets.

“…by sending out something which has been designed specifically to look and sound like a newspaper even down to the “free” label on the title, when no political leaflet is ever charged for, was cynically misleading.

“I have asked the Mayor to set politics aside and work fully with me and Bedfordshire Police to do what we were both elected to do – protect the public in and around Bedford.”

In response, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “Commissioner Holloway herself states that the force is massively underfunded by government, and we are merely calling for her to achieve fair funding for local policing.

“Prior to her election, the Commissioner claimed as a Conservative to be “delighted” to be “proved right” that a Conservative Government would provide extra funding for Bedfordshire policing.’

“Yet now she is imposing a whopping 13.5% council tax rise on local residents. We all know the force is in desperate need of more funds – why isn’t this money coming from her government?”

The Bedford Independent asked Mayor Hodgson’s office if they had any comment to add on the design of the leaflet but have not yet received a response.