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BBC Three Counties Radio discuss the almost £500,000 bill which local taxpayers are having to foot for the 2013 Bilderberg conference in Watford.
Hertfordshire taxpayers to bear brunt of nearly £1m Bilderberg Conference policing cost
Taxpayers in Hertfordshire are to bear the brunt of the £990,000 policing cost for last year’s secretive Bilderberg Conference.
Held in June at The Grove Hotel in Watford, the conference brought together 140 influential faces from government and business worldwide, including Prime Minister David Cameron.
The four-day conference also attracted thousands of protestors and Hertfordshire Constabulary was called upon to police the event.
In total, the police spent £990,000 policing the event, of which the organisers later contributed £462,000. An application was made for the Government to fund another £528,000.
However, the Home Office has now declined the county’s special grant application, in what Hertfordshire police and crime commissioner David Lloyd described as a “disappointing decision.”
Under Home Office rules, special grant funding is only available where necessary additional expenditure incurred would create a serious threat to financial stability of a force and its capacity to deliver normal policing.
Special grants will usually only be considered once the costs reach one per cent of the force budget, otherwise forces are expected to fund one-off exceptional expenditures below this level from their own reserves.
The request was refused as the cost of policing the event fell short of the one per cent threshold – £1.8m – and was not assessed as bearing a risk to the force’s financial stability or capacity to deliver policing.
David Lloyd said: “Along with all other police forces in the country Hertfordshire Constabulary has a core policing duty to prevent crime, maintain the Queen’s peace, protect the public and prevent damage to property.
“The Bilderberg conference was an exceptional policing challenge that was very successfully policed by the constabulary with several thousand protestors attending over the period of the event.
“The Constabulary fulfilled their legal responsibilities and ensured that the event took place peacefully with the minimum of disruption to Hertfordshire’s public and businesses.
“I am disappointed that the Home Office has turned down our grant application though I understand the Home Office’s criteria.”
He continued: “Fortunately, our sound financial management means that this decision does not cause us immediate problems or require us to make further immediate savings on policing.
“Ultimately, this money will come from our reserves and I would have wanted to have this money available for other policing purposes in the county.”