Stephen Bett, Norfolk's first police and crime commissioner.

New Norfolk police and crime commissioner quits as a county councillor

Monday, November 26, 2012
2.57 PM

Norfolk’s newly elected police and crime commissioner has stepped down as a county councillor, saying he needs to devote all his time to his new role.

And, in announcing his resignation at a meeting of Norfolk County Council today, Stephen Bett warned the public that if they hoped he would be able to get a police officer on the corner of every street in Norfolk, they would be disappointed.

Mr Bett, who had been chairman of Norfolk Police Authority for six years, received a total of 39,988 votes in the Norfolk vote, compared to second-placed Conservative candidate Jamie Athill, who garnered 36,605.

Mr Bett had stood as an independent came after he missed out on being selected as the Conservative candidate for Norfolk in July.

It led to him resigning from the Norfolk County Council Conservative Group and the North West Norfolk Conservative Association, sitting as an independent at County Hall.

At today’s meeting, Mr Bett, who became a county councillor in 1989 and represented North Coast division, said: “I sit before you as Norfolk’s first directly elected police and crime commissioner. Time will tell whether I am the first and only one.

“It’s a role that most of the public either do not support or do not understand what it will be responsible for. However, it is here and I am it.”

He presented his resignation, saying he needed the time to do his job and thanked councillors and officers who had supported him during his years at County Hall.

He said: “I have been involved in public life for a significant part of my public life and it is a great regret to me that politicians are almost bottom of the list when it comes to being held in esteem. That should cause us all to reflect as to why we are at that low ebb.”

Of his new £70,000-a-year job, Mr Bett said: “I will be taking time to hear what the people have to say. I have made my pledges and will no doubt be judged in three or four years time.

“But to all those who think I can put police officers on every street in Norwich and the towns of Norfolk, I say think again.

“The sums do not add up. We face challenging times, especially fiscally. I will continue to do as I have always done in making the best decisions for the people of Norfolk.”

In Suffolk, Mr Bett’s police and crime commissioner counterpart Tim Passmore has come in for criticism for his decision to remain as a district councillor.

Mr Passmore quit as leader of Mid Suffolk council, but has said he will remain a councillor, with critics saying the police and crime commissioner role should be a full time job.

The new police and crime commissioners have powers to set the priorities for the police within their force area, to set the budget and to hire and fire chief constables.