Force defends £4,000 bill for ex-police chief’s zoo party

Colin Port

Colin Port - Credit: SUBMITTED

THE leader of a campaign group has slammed Avon and Somerset Constabulary after it splashed out more than £4,000 of taxpayers’ cash on a ‘lavish’ leaving party for its outgoing chief constable.

Colin Port left the constabulary in January following 38 years of police service.

And he left in style with a special party held at the Bristol Zoo Pavilion last month - leaving taxpayers to pick up the £4,090 bill.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said it was a staggeringly large amount of money to spend at a time when the police force is set to have its budget cut.

He said: “It is completely inappropriate for thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to be spent on a leaving party when police budgets are so tight.

“While people wouldn’t have begrudged a low-key leaving drink for the outgoing chief constable, this bill is completely excessive.

“Taxpayers expect their hard-earned cash to be spent on frontline policing, not this kind of extravagance.”

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Mr Port’s departure last month came in somewhat controversial circumstances after he failed to overturn the decision of Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens to make him reapply for his own job.

He revealed in November his intentions to step down after leading the force for eight years once Ms Mountstevens announced she wanted a chief constable to work alongside her throughout her elected term – something she said Mr Port had not wanted to do.

He attempted to get her decision overturned at the High Court but a judge found in the newly-elected PCC’s favour.

Mr Port left on January 25 and an Avon and Somerset Constabulary spokesman said tears were shed on an emotional final day.

He thanked staff for all their support and said he was moved by their kindness.

Nick Gargan has since been chosen as his replacement by Ms Mountstevens and he will take up his post officially on March 1.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Constabulary said it was a ‘long-standing tradition’ to hold an event for the outgoing chief constable.

He added: “Representatives from voluntary organisations, members of the community from across the force area, partner agencies and the media were in attendance.

“This was an opportunity for the retiring chief constable to thank and recognise those who have provided practical help and support over the last eight years.”

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