‘A criminal waste of taxpayers’ cash’

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan
Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan

The county’s crime commissioner is facing fierce criticism over a “criminal waste of taxpayers’ money” which saw her set aside more than £10,000 for a new logo and “distinctive brand identity”.

It comes days after Julia Mulligan launched a £34,200 communications review of North Yorkshire Police, and weeks after she announced a £12,500 move to a Grade I-listed building in Harrogate.

And in the midst of spending cuts which will see North Yorkshire Police forced to find savings of around £16m, the Conservative has now come under fire for what has been branded a mere “marketing ploy”.

“It’s all style and no substance,” said Mark Botham, of the North Yorkshire Police Federation, calling for greater scrutiny of the commissioner’s spending. “Who’s holding her to account?

“I’ve got two grandchildren who could have designed a better logo. We are not a business – we are not Marks & Spencer.

“We are North Yorkshire Police and we deliver a policing service.”

This week it emerged she commissioned a £10,462 consultation on branding identity and a new logo for the commission. Cleveland PCC, in comparison, had its logo designed by an 18-year-old design student who was given a scanner for his work.

And this spend has been fiercely criticised.

North Yorkshire County Councillor David Simister (UKIP, Bilton & Nidd Gorge) described the expenditure as a “criminal waste of tax payers money”.

“What the public of North Yorkshire wants is a visible police force - we want Bobbies on the beat not fancy logos,” he said. “I can’t begin to understand how, when the police budget is being squeezed and it is likely that police officers will lose their jobs, Mrs Mulligan can fritter away tens-of-thousands-of-pounds on a communications review and new logo?”

Mr Botham said: “Yes, she’s got a hard job to do. But hang on, we want someone that actually makes a difference. This is more of a marketing ploy than anything else.”

But Mrs Mulligan, a former York councillor and director of a marketing company, has fiercely defended the spend insisting it was about more than branding.

The money also paid for “basic tools”, she said, including templates for newsletters, illustrations and photography.

“When I came into office, it was a completely new set up,” she said. “This is a bit of a silly story. Trying to say that it was spent on a brand identity is completely wrong.

“It was spent on a range of technical tools. Part of that was a logo, but there was photography, illustrations, literature templates for newsletters.

“This was just setting the office up and getting the practical tools that we need that allow us to be independent.”

Overall, she said, the PCC was far more cost efficient than the Police Authority it replaced - reducing budgets this year by £100,000 from £1.08m to £980,000.

“All of this is being done for far less than the Police Authority spent previously,” she said. We’ve got rid of high paying, bureaucratic posts.

“We’ve looked at the best way to deliver the service that we can to serve the public the best way we can.”