Referendum result: Bedfordshire’s resounding ‘no’ over police council tax increase to fund extra officers

Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Olly Martins had proposed the increase to fund an extra 1

Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Olly Martins had proposed the increase to fund an extra 100 officers. - Credit: Archant

A referendum asking whether taxpayers in Bedfordshire would be willing to pay more to police to fund 100 extra officers on the beat has been met with a resounding ‘no’.

The county’s police and crime commissioner Olly Martins had proposed to up the force’s proportion of council tax to 15.85 per cent, but more than twice as many people voted against as those in favour.

Across the whole of Beds, there were 91,086 in support of the rise and 207,551 against, with a turnout of 64.11 per cent.

In Central Beds 65.76 per cent voted, with 42,682 saying ‘yes’ and 91,716 voting ‘no’.

The force now faces a £600,000 bill to send out revised letters detailing the 1.99 per cent council tax rise which will now go ahead.

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Mr Martins said: “The voters of Bedfordshire have given a clear and emphatic verdict. They are not prepared to pay a significant percentage increase in the police precept.

“Bedfordshire Police faces serious urban challenges but is funded as though it is a small rural force. As a result it has the worst financial position of any police force in the UK.

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“Due to the lack of properly resourced neighbourhood policing teams, Bedfordshire Police is potentially a weak link in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

“Over the next few months Bedfordshire Police will introduce a new operating model designed to make the best possible use of our diminishing resources to deliver a more community based focus to keeping the county safe.

“However, the risks we face and the lack of resources mean the job we have to do is like trying to cover a double bed with a single duvet, and something will always be left not being satisfactorily covered.

“I am determined to get the very best out of Bedfordshire Police to ensure the force protects people and fights crime as effectively as possible.

“However there is only so much the force can do with so few officers. Ground-breaking changes are being made in Bedfordshire to deal with terrorism, cyber-crime, gangs, the abuse of children and those other crimes that have the most impact on people’s lives.

“But this force has never been fairly funded and with more cuts in policing ahead of us the referendum provided an opportunity to put that right and give Bedfordshire the number of officers that other forces have.

“It is therefore now incumbent upon the government to take notice of our unique circumstances in Bedfordshire and to ensure that this police force has the resources it needs not just to keep this county safe but to play its proper role in keeping the country safe.”

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