Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner has paid back more than £2,700 he claimed in expenses for car journeys to his office headquarters.
Last November Stephen Bett came under fire after he was found to have claimed for 70 trips from his home in Thornham to his HQ 43 miles away in Wymondham from November 2012 to August 2013.
Mr Bett racked up a £3,024 bill for the trips, with critics saying he should not have been claiming back the money for journeys to his place of work.
But he has paid back the money and said: “I made a commitment in November to pay back the money I have claimed travelling from my office at home to the Wymondham headquarters.
“Independent auditors spent several days going through all my travel claims with a fine-tooth comb and concluded the final figure amounted to £2,721.60. I can confirm that I paid back that sum in December.”
Mr Bett had claimed that his home in Thornham was his office, meaning that any trips to Wymondham could be counted as working travel.
But the former chairman of Norfolk Police Authority’s claims were “unjustifiable”, according to Richard Murphy, Downham Market-based chartered accountant and director of Tax Research UK.
Mr Bett’s claims for travel to Wymondham came as part of a total mileage claim of £4,947.75. Each 96-mile return journey to his offices cost £43.20.
Mr Bett was again criticised last month for his expenses – after claiming £14.40 to attend the funeral of a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who died in a road traffic collision.
Mr Bett joined hundreds of mourners at St Faith’s Church, in Gaywood, King’s Lynn, for the funeral of mother-of-four Sandi Greenacre after she was killed in an accident near Dersingham earlier this year.
Mr Bett claimed £14.40 for the journey from his home in Thornham to the funeral.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that a thorough review of the deputy PCC’s claims found an administrative error leading to some expenses being wrongly calculated. As a result £124.24 was paid back immediately. The deputy PCC has not claimed any expenses since September and will not be claiming any more for any trip within Norfolk.
The news comes as Mr Bett launches a new fund whereby people who help keep Norfolk one of the safest counties in England can now bid for a share of £100,000.
Charities along with voluntary and community groups could benefit from the major new fund with grants initially available for those working with the disadvantaged and vulnerable in what Mr Bett feels are key priority areas across Norfolk.
Called the Safer Norfolk Fund (Medium Grant Programme), the initiative seeks to encourage partnership working, with bids welcomed for any amount up to a maximum of £10,000.
Applications for the new fund must be in by the end of February. For further information, visit http://www.norfolkfoundation.com/Safer-Norfolk-Foundation-Medium-Grants.htm