Bedfordshire Police boss criticises tax referendum
A police and crime commissioner (PCC) has criticised the conduct of a referendum which rejected his plan for a council tax rise to fund more police.
Bedfordshire PCC Olly Martins asked council tax payers to support a £4.5m rise in their bills to fund 100 more officers, but voters rejected the plan.
Mr Martins said the way the question was posed misled tax payers on how much they would pay.
The government, which set the question, said it was approved by parliament.
If voters had backed proposals in May, residents would have had to pay 32p extra a week for a band A property.
Mr Martins said the referendum question may have confused voters into thinking he was calling for a 15% rise in council tax when he was only asking for a rise in the police part of the tax (11% of the full figure).
The Referendum Question:
- For the financial year beginning on 1st April 2015 the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner has set an increase of 15.8% in the amount it charges.
- If most voters choose 'yes', the increase will be 15.8%.
- If most voters choose 'no', the increase will be 2.0%.
- Do you want the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner to increase the amount it charges by 15.8%?
Mr Martins said: "The question was pretty misleading. I don't think the people of Bedfordshire were able to take an informed decision."
He was also concerned referendum rules meant he could not campaign for the increase.
Mr Martins, elected on a Labour ticket, said the result would mean a reduction of up to 135 officers from the existing 1,067.
The Department for Communities spokesman said the government consulted the Electoral Commission about the question.
"Residents have had their say and their views will now be respected," he said.