Police turn down merger
THE proposed merger between the Herts, Beds and Essex constabularies has been thrown into doubt. Herts and Beds have refused to accept the merger proposals put forward by home secretary Charles Clarke as part of Government plans to streamline policing. Af
THE proposed merger between the Herts, Beds and Essex constabularies has been thrown into doubt.
Herts and Beds have refused to accept the merger proposals put forward by home secretary Charles Clarke as part of Government plans to streamline policing.
After meeting Home Office representatives on Friday members of Hertfordshire Police Authority voted against accepting a voluntary merger.
"We have not got a mandate from our group let alone the people," said the newly elected leader of Herts County Council, David Beatty.
"One million people in Herts have not been consulted about this. We should not go ahead at this time."
Cllr Richard Smith was among members concerned that there would not be enough money provided to finance the merger.
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He said: "How many times has the Government required us to do something, promised us funding and failed to match the total cost?
"We would then have no option but to throw it on the taxpayer."
Former authority chairman Peter Holland said: "Do we say to the Home Secretary 'we are not going to play'? He will say 'I will proceed and I will win'.
"I would rather be at the table and have a voice than say 'no' and don't take part in the debate."
Herts police chief constable Frank Whiteley, who supports the merger, said: "In my view, seeking voluntary amalgamation would have given Herts greater negotiating power with the Home Office to deal with the legitimate concerns raised by the police authority members."
Peter Conniff, chairman of Bedfordshire Police Authority, said: "Members would have been supportive of a merger with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, instead of Herts and Essex.
"There is no natural link with Essex. If the merger with Essex and Herts goes ahead there will be two international airports which could be potentially problematic.
"It is our responsibility to try to achieve what we feel is the best possible outcome for the people of Bedfordshire and we remain totally committed to ensuring a high level of policing for local people and they should have the chance to give their views.