Bedford Borough’s Mayor Dave Hodgson has been criticised for ‘fleecing' businesses in a deal over police parking in Bedford town centre.
In September 2017 it was announced by Bedford BID, which represents businesses in the town centre, that it would be contributing £30k to help Bedfordshire Police fund 2 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) for town centre operations. This sum was match funded by Bedfordshire Police.
Included in this deal was Bedford BID’s agreement to cover the cost of parking spaces for police vehicles at Lurke Street car park at a cost of £5k payable to Bedford Borough Council.
At a meeting of the Borough Council last week (11th July), Conservative Cllr Roger Rigby challenged the Mayor’s Executive on the failure to offer the parking spaces for free. Following the meeting he said:
‘The arrangement between Bedford BID and Bedfordshire Police has increased police visibility in the town centre. It is extremely disappointing then that the Mayor chose to exploit the agreement by charging Bedford BID £5k for 2 parking spaces for the police, particularly when there is a clear benefit to the Council from having a police presence dealing with anti-behaviour incidents in and around the car park which is never at full occupancy.
‘The Conservative Group fully supports the extra PCSOs but the £5k raised by Bedford BID from the town centre businesses should be spent directly promoting the excellence of Bedford. It is maddening to weaken an excellent scheme with such penny pinching poor judgement from the Mayor. The £5k should be returned to Bedford BID immediately.’