Eric Pickles wades into debate over referendum for police tax hike

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles is the latest politician to enter the debate on Bedfordshire’s referendum for a police tax hike, telling voters they “should not be afraid of voting no”

Yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron told the Herald & Post that police and crime commissioner Olly Martins was wrong to ask taxpayers for extra funding and suggested that further cutbacks should be made.

Voters arriving at Bedfordshire polling stations for the General Election on May 7 will be asked whether or not they back a 15.8% rise in the police’s council tax precept.

The hike would cost Band D taxpayers an extra 48p a week.

Mr Martins has said the funds will be used to put 75 officers into neighbourhood policing and another 25 into safeguarding teams.

In a statement issued today Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles urged voters to think carefully about the decision.

He said: “I hope the referendum will result in a healthy and robust public debate on how the police commissioner spends taxpayers’ money.

“Local residents should not be afraid of voting ‘no’ if they think that the tax rise is excessive and more could be done to cut out waste and inefficiency.

“We should trust the people.”