Friday, 8 February 2013

Conservatives cost you more - Police Special

Policing costs in Devon and Cornwall will be going up in the coming year thanks to Conservative Police Commissioner Tony Hogg and the rubber stamp of the Tory dominated Police and Crime Panel.

At today's meeting, the panel discussed Commissioner Hogg's desire for a referendum-cheating 2% rise in his council tax precept. Cornish Lib Dem councillor Adam Paynter led the charge against the rise.

Of course, all budgets are under pressure and the police force has seen officer numbers cut as the pressures tighten. But the bit of Commissioner Hogg's budget that seems more bloated than it need be are his own office costs. The abolition of the old police authority promised that these costs would come down. Sure the commissioner is paid a big salary, but the panel members operate for travel costs only rather than the special allowance received by the old authority members.

But not in Commissioner Hogg's world. He is budgeting for his office and staff costs to match those of the old authority - and perhaps rise even higher. Already he has a spin doctor on £60,000 and has hired the wife of an old navy chum as his 'senior adviser'. As a former chief finance officer for Devon, she is well qualified in many respects, but it seems strange that there was no open recruitment process.

Tory and Labour members all voted for the 2% rise, but Adam Paynter did not.

Incidentally, Cornwall's voice was much muted at the meeting. Although I was absent as part of the interview panel for Cornwall's interim Chief Executive, I had arranged for Adam to attend in my place as rules allow. The other Lib Dem from Cornwall, Paula Dolphin, was also there. So too was Bill Maddern - one of the two Conservatives. Lance Kennedy was nowhere to be seen and had not sent a sub. Neither had Indie John Wood who was also tied up in the interviews in Truro all day but hadn't nominated a replacement.

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