Letter: County did not vote for tax rise

Eric Waters

Ingleside Crescent, Lancing

In last week’s Observer Katy Bourne, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, was quoted as stating that an increase of £12 in Sussex Police’s share of council tax would help protect 480 officer and staff posts, and she continued by saying that the public wants to see investment in more visible local policing, focusing on crimes such as burglary and anti-social behaviour, and it also wants to feel safe on the roads, in public spaces, and during the night-time.

In that she is correct – it is what all law-abiding people want and expect – but she was batting on a sticky wicket when she asserted that one of her consultations showed that a majority of people in Sussex are prepared to pay more through council tax to support police services.

Mrs Bourne claimed that the consultation, which she carried out last year, showed that 80 per cent of the county’s population supported her argument for an extra £5 but it did nothing of the sort; the actual number of responses was just 3,500, as against the approximately 1,000,000 in the county whose thoughts on the subject were totally unknown to the SPCC.

Mrs Bourne has an unfortunate record for releasing survey results that are totally misleading. For example, from one of them last year she concluded that 47 per cent of Sussex residents aged 65 or friends had been targeted by fraudsters, and said that it confirmed the disturbing level of fraud being targeted at the county’s older residents.

Again it did nothing of the sort; it was simply yet another example of how quoting statistics can be so misleading, as only 512 people responded to Ms Bourne’s poll out of a possible total of around 319,000.

In other words the conclusion that she arrived at was based on the opinions, if my maths are right, of less than a miniscule 0.02 per cent of our county’s senior residents.

I believe that the SPCC will only ever get a genuine ‘yes’ vote from one of her consultations when she can actually deliver on local policing, burglary, anti-social behaviour and make us all feel safe, wherever we are and whatever the time of day.

We all know of course that, whether we do or do not vote in her latest one, she will still get her £12 but please, Mrs Bourne, don’t pretend that it is the stated wish of the county’s electorate. I know it’s not and I am sure you do too.