North Yorkshire’s controversy-hit police commissioner has received support from a leader of a watchdog after dismissing claims that she has been profligate with the public purse.
North Yorkshire transparency campaigner Gwen Swinburn told a meeting of the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel that she had concerns over expenses racked up by commissioner Julia Mulligan.
She also questioned if the panel had “confidence in the commissioner’s respect for public purse”.
Ms Swinburn said while the commissioner was setting an inFlation-busting rise in the police element of council tax, documents filed by the commissioner had revealed “extravagant spending on luxury hotels and expensive train fares”.
She added: “I saw she spent nearly £1,000 in eight weeks on her taxpayer funded credit card.”
Ms Swinburn said while she was predisposed to support a significant rise in funding for the police, Mrs Mulligan’s rise of around ten per cent “should have a proper business case”.
In response, Mrs Mulligan said she had provided the panel with a detailed analysis of her hotel expenses, with the average cost of the hotels she stayed in being £150 per night.
She told members: “We look every single time at the best value we can get. My business is in Westminster. Westminster is expensive.
“We do shop around very carefully.”
Mrs Mulligan said a hotel bill that came to £262 per night, while she attended a National Association of Police and Crime Commissioners summit, had been “extremely unfortunate” and was caused by, a new member of staff booking the hotel without her knowledge.
She highlighted how she had stayed for five nights at the Premier Inn in Westminster, which cost £152 to £197 a night.
The panel’s deputy chairman, Councillor Peter Wilkinson welcomed confirmation that Mrs Mulligan travelled on standard class on trains and told the meeting he did not think her hotel expenses were too high.
Cllr Wilkinson, who is also the deputy leader of Hambleton District Council, said: “You cannot get a hotel in London for £120 a night. The minimum I have to pay is £150. I do recognise the cost of staying in London, it is not like staying in the country where you can get a reasonable hotel booking.”