Candidate hits out at 'spiralling costs' of running Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner office in North Yorkshire
Labour’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) candidate for North Yorkshire has voiced concern over what she says are the "spiralling running costs" of the PFCC office.
“In the last four years under the leadership of a conservative commissioner, costs have risen by 27%,” said Alison Hume who is standing in May’s PFCC elections.
“In 2017 the budget for the PFCC office was £910,571 - but it’s now risen to £1,150,000.
"This is totally unacceptable – particularly during a time when Police and Fire Service budgets have been slashed.”
Ms Hume is promising to reduce the running costs of the PFCC office to previous police authority levels - a reduction of around 10%.
“One of my first priorities as the PFCC will be ordering a review into the Enable North Yorkshire scheme,” she explained. “This plan requires “back-office” staff to work as one team, under one roof, as part of a wider programme to improve efficiency and affordability across the Police and Fire Services in North Yorkshire.
"It’s ironic that the commissioner is expecting efficiency savings from our emergency workers, whilst her own office costs have gone up.”
In December, the Government revealed it would be giving a total of £806,325,481 to Yorkshire's four police forces for the coming financial year – equating to £147 per head.
But the sum spent on the Metropolitan Police in London equates to £219 per person (excluding City of London Police).
“In real terms North Yorkshire Police are now £18 million a year worse off than they were in 2010,” said Ms Hume. “In the last two years alone they’ve been under pressure to slash £10m from their budget and make staff redundant.
"And on top of that we discover that there’s still a north south divide and an inequality in the way central government funding is allocated. In the meantime the commissioner should be setting an example and making sure her own costs don’t get out of control.”
Conservative PFCC candidate Philip Allott said his Labour opponent had been selective with the use of figures.
He said: "All Police Fire and Crime Commissioners have a duty to manage public money carefully and ensure that at all times they achieve value for money, something I fully endorse and if elected will be working hard to achieve.
“However, the figures chosen by the Labour candidate are very selective because the last North Yorkshire Police Authority budget was £1,080,000.
"The Office of the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (OPFCC) budget is now £1,150,000 or £70,000 more.
"This is an increase of 6% over nearly 9 years, i.e. 0.6% per year and far less than inflation.
“What’s more, from what I can see the OPFCC team is delivering value for money, for example in recent months they have secured nearly £2.2m additional central government funding, mostly to improve support for victims of domestic and sexual abuse, which I fully support. In contrast Labour controlled West Yorkshire Police budget estimate for 2020/21 is £1.678 million, substantially greater than North Yorkshire.
"If the Labour candidate is really serious about inflicting austerity on the commissioner’s office she should start in West Yorkshire.
“Spending on North Yorkshire Police increased by £8.4 million this year thanks to central government funding which will fund an additional 100 police officers and follows further spending increases last year to fund more officers.
"In additional, extra money has been made available to fund PPE and other items needed as a result of the pandemic. Any cost savings made as a result of the Enable initiative where the police and fire service pool backroom services are being reinvested into frontline services.
"I am proud that North Yorkshire has appointed 83 new officers and a further 100 are being recruited, with even more to follow.
"The Government has made clear that nationally it is recruiting 20,000 more police officers during the term of this parliament, despite the pandemic.”
The Lib Dem PFCC election candidate James Barker said, if elected, he would abolish the role of the PFCC role altogether.
He said: "I would campaign to abolish the post of Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, if elected, and return to oversight from elected representatives from across York and North Yorkshire.
"The bulk of the money spent on the position is wasted on bureaucracy when it should be spent on priorities such as fixing the 101 non-emergency number.
"For me this is about doing the right thing and not the easy thing and having the moral courage to see it through.”
Independent candidate Keith Tordoff MBE said he would look at cutting the costs of running the PFCC office, if victorious in May's election, and he would be donating part of his salary to charity.
He said: "If elected as the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) of North Yorkshire I would be looking to assess the increasing costs of running the office of the PFCC which are now over one million pounds a year.
"As I would if acquiring a business I will spend the first sixty days in office familiarising and appraising the situation before coming to a conclusion or making decisions on the way the office is run.
"I think it is important to remember a number of staff are employed in the office of the PFCC, who understand the running of it. It will understandably be a time of great uncertainty for them as they wait to see who is elected the new commissioner and I will not add to any concerns by making any uninformed or sweeping statements.
"I will lead by example and to that extent I pledge to donate £20,000 to charities annually from the salary if elected."
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.
Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.