Martin Surl, the current Police & Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, has just launched a public consultation on the police precept (council tax contribution) for this year, with an expensive mail drop to every household in the county. The Government published the police funding settlement on December 17th, yet his letter was dated January 1st and Royal Mail deliveries only started last week, allowing no time for residents to understand his confusing arguments and submit a response. The budget has to be finalised and submitted to the County Police and Crime Panel by today, Monday February 1st! This makes a complete mockery of the whole consultation and shows it to be nothing more than a sham and ‘tick box’ democracy.
Commenting, Chris Nelson, Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate for Gloucestershire said:
“Clearly, I fully support a public consultation on such an important issue (not to mention that it is a statutory requirement). But the vast majority of Commissioners do this ‘free of charge’, by combining with their local county council consultations on the same subject, using local newspapers, radio, social media, their website, the community alert email system, newsletters, etc. I estimate it would have cost him up to £35,000 of taxpayer’s money to do such a mail drop to every household in the county. Spending our money that way is outrageous, pointless (as he has done it so late), and the money would be better spent anyway on recruiting another Police Community Support Officer.
“I believe he has never conducted a public consultation like this before to support his previous eight council tax increases. Due to his incompetence, he has also left no time for residents to respond, so I suspect the real reason he is doing this, is to raise his profile before the election this May, using public money rather than his own. It is nothing short of a scandal and a gross misuse of public money.
“Our Free Spending Commissioner clearly has money to waste. So why is he making the case to raise council tax? Over the last few years, the cost of his personal staff has increased by 36%, money that could have been spent on the front line. Last year, he also failed to bid for some of the millions in the Government’s Safer Streets initiative, even though he should have known we would qualify, as we have over 90 crime hotspots in Gloucestershire. This means that residents now have to spend more of their own money to make their property secure. How much more will this Free Spending Commissioner cost you?”