During the recent Town Meeting the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire, Jason Ablewhite, stated he was cheaper than the old Police Authority. Responding to a question from Peter Mason, Mr Ablewhite, who was asked why we need a Police & Crime Commissioner, stated: ‘The fact that the Police and Crime Commissioner is now cheaper to run than the former Police Authority, then you save that money in your pocket or I get that to give to the Chief Constable for more cops.’ This statement seemed at odds with a report written a while ago by Richard Taylor which showed that Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) Graham Bright, Mr Ablewhite’s predecessor, was more expensive than the Police Authority he replaced. The Riverporter decided to look into this claim and this is what we discovered . . .
Firstly we contacted the Chairman of the Police Panel, Edward Leigh, who is responsible for scrutinising the PCC’s work. He said it was naughty for Mr Ablewhite to say that, but did suggest that Mr Ablewhite would argue that he does more than the old authority. However we were able to find the proposed budget for the PCC’s department for this coming year, 2019/20, which will be £1,215m. The cost of the old Police Authority, allowing for inflation, would be around £990k, a whopping £225k less than Mr Ablewhite’s costs. Any claims of savings are therefore not accurate and as the PCC’s budget will be £1.350m for 2020/21 there is certainly no hope of us taxpayers saving any money in our pockets.
Mr Ablewhite has recently been reselected as the Conservative candidate for the PCC role, which is up for election next year. We asked the PCC to comment on our findings and are awaiting a reply Ed. Another of Mr Ablewhite’s comments, which touched on his position as a District Councillor, and raised an eyebrow or two, was a reference to £1 million that had been available to spend in St Ives. Taking about the parking problems he said: ‘Yes there are people that park inappropriately around the town. I can remember a conversation we had which would have solved the problem completely some years ago, which caused a huge amount of controversy, when there was a million pounds on the table from the District Council, which is no longer there, and that is to pedestrianise the whole of the town centre’.
We assume this refers to the £1 million of environmental improvements of 2009, which HDC’s Conservative Cabinet withdrew when it didn’t agree with the scheme that many in St Ives supported.