Disgruntled councillors axe funding for town’s additional police officer

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Bradley Stoke councillors have voted to terminate a long-standing agreement that has seen the town council part-fund an additional part-time police officer on the local beat team.

The decision was made after Avon and Somerset Constabulary requested a 16 percent increase in the town council’s contribution to the arrangement from April 2023, which sparked a debate about whether the council has been receiving “value for money” in recent years.

In a letter written to the chief constable last November, councillors expressed concern at the “lack of visible police presence” in Bradley Stoke, along with disappointment at the “level of police support for community events” during the current funding period.

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Councillors also expressed disappointment at not being kept informed about a staffing change in the officer position that they part-fund after the previous incumbent, PC Claire Fletcher, retired at the end of October 2022.

Unique arrangement

Bradley Stoke Town Council currently funds 11 hours per week of a 22-hours-per-week contract for a dedicated police officer within the Bradley Stoke Neighbourhood Team. The funded officer is supposed to be “ring-fenced” for duties in Bradley Stoke, meaning that they cannot be temporarily deployed in other areas, unlike the other members of the beat team. Funding started in October 2009 and was originally based on 25 hours per week but this was reduced to 22 hours per week in 2011.

The arrangement is understood to be unique within the Avon and Somerset force area, with no other town or parish council directly funding police officer posts.

The 2023/24 funding request was for £19,156 which equates to an increase of £2,702 or 16.42 percent over the 2022/23 figure – well above the 3 percent rise anticipated in the council’s Forward Plan.


The Bradley Stoke police beat team has, for the last few years, consisted of two ‘beat team manager’ PCs (one being the council-funded, part-time officer) and two police community support officers (PCSOs).

Following the retirement of PC Fletcher at the end of October 2022, Avon and Somerset Police claimed that the one remaining constable, PC Nathan Reed, who had previously been fully funded by the force, was now occupying the role that is part-funded by the town council. This led to one councillor, Ben Randles, suggesting that the council was being “hoodwinked” and should be “asking for a refund” [for the period starting 1st November 2022].

Doubts about the need for Bradley Stoke Town Council to fund an additional police officer were expressed by Cllr Dayley Lawrence, who is also a councillor in Patchway. He reported that despite the town council there paying no extra they get a “brilliant service” from the local beat team, with the beat manager attending council meetings to brief councillors.

Decision to axe funding

Following further discussions at the January 2023 Full Council meeting, Bradley Stoke councillors voted to “discontinue funding for the specific 22-hour police role in Bradley Stoke from 1st April 2023 onwards”. It was also agreed to withhold monthly payments to Avon and Somerset Constabulary “until it is established what value for money Bradley Stoke residents have received and clarification on the level of police presence in the town since 1st November 2022 is received”.

Following the above decisions, a meeting took place on 13th February 2023 between two town council officers, Cllr Andy Ward, Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Hughes and Chief Inspector Dan Forster to thrash out the “value for money” and invoicing issues. This saw the town council table a lengthy list of concerns, to which the police representatives replied with a promise to “discuss an engagement plan for the next 12 months” and an assurance that the town had only been without its full complement of two police constables for a single month (November 2022).

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Outcomes from the above meeting were then discussed at a meeting of the town council’s Finance Committee on 22nd February 2023 where it was agreed to withhold payment of the December 2022 invoice but pay the three further monthly invoices that are expected to be received prior to the funding agreement ending on 31st March 2023.

The £19,156 saved from the 2023/24 budget a a result of ending the police officer funding has been put towards renewing CCTV equipment at the town council’s three activity centres.

Editor’s note: Despite the senior officers’ statement that the Bradley Stoke beat team currently has its full complement of two police constables, at the time of writing only one, PC Nathan Reed, is listed on the beat team webpage.

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