POLICE and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg has been criticised for receiving a taxpayer funded allowance of £650 a month so he can stay nearer to his office in the week – despite already earning £85,000 and owning two houses.
The former commander of RNAS Culdrose owns two houses in West Cornwall, living in one in Helston and letting the other one out.
The drive to and from work in Exeter takes more than two hours each way so the force has agreed to pay for his overnight accommodation in the week.
Mr Hogg stays at the Lympstone Marine Camp near his Exeter office at a cost of around £340 per month – which he says is approximately what the £650 allowance is worth after tax.
But councillors and police representatives have attacked the payout.
Nigel Rabbitts, chairman of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “In times of austerity this is not an appropriate expenditure. Mr Hogg knew he would need to spend a lot of time in Exeter when he took the job.”
“There is police accommodation at the constabulary’s HQ in Exeter. I have to use that when I need to stay overnight and so do other officers. It’s good, en suite accommodation but perhaps the PCC feels it’s not good enough for him.”
And Launceston Councillor Alex Folkes, a member of the Police and Crime Panel, said: “It seems Tony Hogg’s first instinct is to put his hand in the taxpayer’s pocket. He seems to forget he is already getting £85,000 a year of our money.”
The revelation comes just days after the Devon and Cornwall Polie Commissioner said he will do everything in his power to “cushion the blow” of further budget cuts at the force following a spending review announced by the Government.
Devon and Cornwall has already had to find savings of £52 over four years and has lost 400 officers and 500 civilian staff.
The story broke in today’s Mail on Sunday but it provoked an instant response from Mr Hogg, 64, who was elected in November.
In a statement today, Mr Hogg said: "This newspaper has a clear 'anti PCC' agenda, which, of course, is their right. They have printed several such stories over recent months, some with more merit than others.
"The story concerning me quite rightly states that I have been awarded £650 (before tax) as a contribution towards my expenses for staying away from home. I live in Helston in West Cornwall and the drive to and from Exeter takes two hours.
"The fuel cost of this journey is paid for by me, which is quite right and proper. The award by the OPCC Remuneration committee is to help towards accommodation close to the office for midweek nights. I generally arrive at the office at 8am and leave after 7pm (often with paperwork to examine for business the following day) and this decision, which was fully transparent and detailed on our website, ensures that I don’t spend valuable time driving to and from home too often.
"After tax, this allowance amounts to approx £350 per month and just covers my basic £17 per night accommodation at the Lympstone Marine Camp.”
Mr Hogg acknowledged he could stay at the Middlemoor Police HQ in dedicated en suite accommodation for free, but feels it is inappropriate.
He said: “My role is all about holding the Chief Constable and the police force to account on the public’s behalf, and therefore it is not appropriate for my office, or my accommodation, to be sited there.
"I am not making a profit from this allowance and the public should understand that because of it I am working extra long hours on their behalf.”