Outrage after Northamptonshire police pay £ 12,000 for gold leaf artwork
A cash-strapped police force has come under fire for spending £ 12,000 of taxpayer dollars on a GOLD piece of art – which will only be seen by cops and criminals.
Northamptonshire Police have unveiled the flashy installation which features dozens of gold leaf covering the lobby wall of their new HQ.
But the force made a moving U-turn and decided to stay in their current home at Wootton Hall, Northampton.
Gold leaf is now engraved on the force’s new north accommodation building and the weekly guard suite in the woods at Kettering, Northants.
The ultramodern building is not open to the general public, which means that the only
those who will see the work will be police personnel and suspected criminals.
A whistleblower of the force lambasted the project, calling it “ridiculous”.
He said: “It’s just useless to be honest, it’s no use.
“We’re so stretched out and we’re losing serves left, right and center.
“You have places like the Sunflower Center that need funding and we are installing gold leaf.
“This [the money] could be used on front line officers. There are so many people who are unhappy with it.
“To see money wasted like this, as a taxpayer myself, is ridiculous.”
Residents also criticized the project, which comes days after the force announced plans to increase funds by increasing the housing tax by 5%.
Mother of two Sharon Baxter, 57, an accountant from Daventry, Northants., Said: “This is absolutely outrageous.
“You expect the police to look after you and invest in caring for the community, and instead they use our own hard-earned money for sophisticated artwork.
“The fact that they are looking to raise the council tax while this is happening is downright laughable.
“It is beyond ridiculous that the only way to see the artwork is to get arrested.
“This money should be used to ensure that officers can do their jobs as efficiently as possible, and I don’t see how a bunch of leaves on a wall could help.
“You want to see more bobbies on patrol, to make people feel safe, and it’s embarrassing that they neglected that.”
Mechanic Fred Benson, 67, a grandfather of one who lives in Kettering, said: “When I first heard about it I thought they were taking Mickey.
“Some families are really struggling right now, so it is an insult to have their money used that way.
“Art isn’t even that great – it looks cheap and cheesy.”
Chloe Westley, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money.
“At a time when local government budgets are under pressure, how can you justify spending thousands of euros on gold leaf?
“People want their taxes to be spent on essential services, not on unnecessary artwork. “
The northern accommodation building was originally intended to be the force’s new headquarters, until a decision was made last year to stay in central Northampton.
The decision to install the artwork was made in 2015 by Adam Simmonds, then Commissioner of Police and Crime.
A spokesperson for the current Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said the force would face a financial penalty if the artwork was scrapped.
He said: “The artwork was purchased as part of the overall contract for the construction of the northern accommodation building, a decision taken in 2015.
“More recently, possibilities of canceling the artwork have been considered, but this would have resulted in financial penalties and therefore was not pursued. “
Last month Mr Mold announced he was looking to increase the force’s 2018/19 budget from £ 115.3million to £ 118.7million by increasing the council tax by 5%.
He said: “I know the people of Northamptonshire are happy to help create a first class police service and a safer county.
“Police resources have been slashed, downsized and downsized again in recent times, but it is critical that this not be allowed to continue, for the safety of our people and communities. “
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