March 13 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) has once again been criticised for his expenses – after claiming £14.40 to attend the funeral of a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who died in a road traffic collision.
Stephen Bett joined hundreds of mourners at St Faith’s Church, in Gaywood, King’s Lynn, for the funeral of mother-of-four Sandi Greenacre after she was killed in an accident near Dersingham earlier this year.
But it has now emerged Mr Bett claimed £14.40 for the journey from his home in Thornham to the funeral, something which has angered those who knew the PCSO.
The news comes as Mr Bett – a former chairman of the Norfolk Police Authority – is in the process of paying back approximately £3,000 in claims he made for 70 trips from his home to his headquarters 43 miles away in Wymondham between November 2012 to August 2013. Mr Bett had claimed that his home in Thornham was his office, meaning that any trips to Wymondham could be counted as working travel.
Jo Rust, a friend of the PCSO and secretary of the King’s Lynn and District Trades Council, said: “I actually felt really pleased when I saw Stephen Bett there because I felt it was an appropriate mark of respect to a PCSO in a situation when their work sometimes doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
“Then to discover he had actually put in a mileage claim tarnished that and took away the shine.”
Mrs Rust said the claim made his attendance seem less a mark of respect and more of a “work duty”.
She also said his £70,000 per year salary meant he had enough money to cover the cost of the journey to the funeral on March 27 this year without submitting an expenses claim.
Mr Bett replied: “I did not know Sandi personally but I heard locally she was a popular and highly valued member of Hunstanton’s policing team.
“I attended her funeral in my official role as PCC.”
Police officers had formed a guard of honour outside the church as a mark of respect to Mrs Greenacre, who was well-known in the West Norfolk area. Mr Bett said he would pay back money claimed for the journeys between Wymondham and Thornham – which were part of a £4,947.75 total bill – so as not to tarnish the reputation of Norfolk policing.
Do you have a view about Mr Bett’s expenses claim? Write, giving your full details, to: EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk