New police and crime commissioner says officers could work from fire stations if new legislation is passed
- Credit: Terry Harris Photography
The newly-elected police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Cambridgeshire, Jason Ablewhite, says he is “very interested” in a new parliamentary bill which could see him given control over the county’s fire service.
Mr Ablewhite, who is stepping down as leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said new legislation – the Policing and Crime Bill - would also save money and improve police street presence.
“We do not necessarily need a police station, but if we have a fire station it’s easier to move police into the fire station rather than the other way around, due to the type of building. You’re reducing central costs and can spend more on street policing,” he said.
“It really came out in the campaign, especially in rural areas, that people never see a policeman. They don’t want a policeman behind them all the time, but want them to respond in a timely fashion when you need them.”
Conservative Mr Ablewhite, from St Ives, was elected as PCC on Friday with 81,581 votes, ahead of Labour’s Dave Baigent, who polled 72,580.
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“It was neck-and-neck at one time, but it was really when the Huntingdonshire vote came in that I thought it has put me beyond their reach,” he said.
“The good old people of Huntingdonshire came through.”
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As part of his new role, Mr Ablewhite hopes to move the PCC head office from Cambourne back to police headquarters in Hinchingbrooke.
“When I became leader of Huntingdonshire District Council the former leader was in the civic suite, so the first thing I did was move next to the chief officer,” he said.
“That relationship between the leader and the CEO is exactly the same as the commissioner and the chief constable. For the whole team to work properly I think it is the whole building of that relationship and working together.”
“The chief constable’s ideology is not far from mine,” he added.
“We had our first meeting yesterday so we’ve already started the training. I don’t officially take over until Thursday (May 12), but we have got to get in and going with it.”
Despite his win, Mr Ablewhite’s campaign was accompanied by accusations of discrimination in comments made on Facebook before he was leader of the district council.
“I think the results showed no, it did not put a shadow on the election. I kept a positive campaign the whole way through,” he said.
“There is at least one other candidate I could have blown the roof off, but it’s not my style. I have apologised and it was a number of years ago, but it will not stop me from doing my role or from working with any groups.”