Ann Barnes to ‘fight to the end’ to secure Operation Stack funding
PUBLISHED: 14:57 14 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:26 14 April 2016
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner has called on her successor to keep the pressure on the Home Office
Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes insists she will fight to the end to secure Home Office funding for the policing of Operation Stack.
Mrs Barnes has repeatedly called on the government to pay Kent Police for any reasonable additional policing costs associated with the management of traffic on the county’s roads when the Channel ports are disrupted, which has been recognised as a national issue.
Her request for £576,925.59 to cover the reasonable additional costs of policing Stack in 2015 was turned down by the home secretary Theresa May.
That was despite Mrs Barnes having received “legitimate expectations” from Mark Sedwill, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, that Mrs May would use her discretion to approve the special grant application.
At a meeting of the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel on Tuesday, Mrs Barnes said: “My biggest regret last year was the refusal by the Home Office to refund the policing costs for Operation Stack.”
However she also revealed that Mr Sedwill had since been back to visit her office, and that talks are ongoing between the Home Office, Kent Police and the Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner to look at options for the future.
“I am never one to give up, I will fight this to the end,” she said.
“We had a very full and frank exchange at my office and Mr Sedwill agreed his officials would work with us to discuss options for this year.
“It was reassuring to hear that the door is still a little bit open - because it isn’t fair that the taxpayers of Kent should not only have to put up with the misery of Stack but to pay for the policing costs as well.”
Mrs Barnes’ term as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner ends on May 11, but she hopes her successor will continue to lobby the government on behalf of the people of Kent.
“Maybe I’m cynical, but I hope this matter has not just been kicked into the long grass until after I’m gone,” she added.
“If we do have Operation Stack again, I sincerely hope that everyone keeps the pressure on the Home Office to secure a fair deal for the taxpayers of Kent.”