‘Flip flop’ accusation after Norfolk police and crime commissioner proposes council tax increase

Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt

Police Officers. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Norfolk's police and crime commissioner has proposed the element of council tax which goes to the constabulary should be increased by nearly 2pc - after his previous recommendation for a freeze was vetoed.

And that led to accusations of a 'flip flop' from one of Stephen Bett's election rivals for the commissioner post.

When independent Mr Bett proposed the freeze to Norfolk's police and crime panel, members voted to veto it.

They did so after hearing an impassioned plea from Norfolk police chief constable Simon Bailey, who said his force needed every single penny.

Mr Bailey had said the force faced changing demand, with rises in domestic violence, cybercrime and serious sexual offences, including against children.

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There are fewer burglaries, robberies and thefts, but Mr Bailey said the crimes which are on the increase were more complex to investigate and took more police resources.

Mr Bett was asked to reconsider his precept and will face the panel again on Tuesday, where he will recommend an increase of 1.98pc.

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Lorne Green, his Conservative rival for the post, attacked Mr Bett over his latest council tax proposals as a 'flip flop'.

Pointing out that Mr Bett had increased council tax in years where the post is not up for election, he said: 'The commissioner's reckless approach towards taxpayers' money calls into question both his judgement and motive.

'How can we have any confidence in his ability to manage a budget when in the course of a week his precept proposal has shifted completely from a tax freeze to an increase of the maximum amount?

'People living in Norfolk deserve a commissioner that they can trust and rely on to spend their money wisely, not flip flop between two extremes.'

But Mr Bett hit back. He said: 'Perhaps Mr Green would like to talk to his own campaign manager Christopher Kemp, who was on the panel and was among those who vetoed my freeze.

'The letter I received from the panel asked me to go to the maximum increase we could and that is exactly what I have recommended. I was surprised the vote was nine to one against the freeze, but that shows the depth of feeling.'

If the increase goes through, it would add £4.14 a year to the police share of the council tax bill for a Band D property, taking it to £212.94.

The election for police and crime commissioner will take place on May 5. Along with Mr Bett and Mr Green, UKIP's David Moreland is the only other candidate so far.

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