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Kent police and crime commissioner Ann Barnes denies wasting public money in Maidstone office move

By Paul Francis

Kent crime commissioner Ann Barnes has come out fighting over claims about an office move that cost £150,000 - and says she is treating accusations she acts like a diva with contempt.

The crime commissioner faced questions at the weekend about her spending on an office relocation following a national newspaper report.

In a response to a series of questions made by the KM Group, the commissioner rebuts the claims, saying they were inaccurate.

Kent police commissioner Ann Barnes has defended the cost of her office

And she shrugs off anonymous claims she acts like a diva, saying: “I will not respond to unsubstantiated and inaccurate hearsay, rumour or gossip, because that’s all it is.

Unpleasant though it may be personally I’m treating it with the contempt it deserves.”

The commissioner dismissed a claim she had installed a soundproofed radio studio in her new office at Kent Police HQ in Sutton Road, Maidstone.

“This is inaccurate. A small radio box was installed in a store room – it is not in any shape or form a radio studio.

"The box allows high quality calls to be made to broadcast journalists using an ISDN line.

"The radio line was installed to save time spent travelling to other places around the county to borrow or use ISDN lines.”

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On the claim the costs of the office move should have been recorded under government transparency rules, the commissioner said: “The commissioner is only required to publish her direct office costs over £500.

"All the estates costs are actually captured by the Force and do not require identification under that scheme.

"The breakdown costs will appear in the commissioner’s statement of accounts which will be published online.”

She had never parked in a bay reserved for the disabled and says the firearms unit that had occupied the space had been moved to vacant office space nearby.

Mrs Barnes said the move came about because the lease on her previous office in Gail Street, Maidstone was coming to an end and had she renewed it, it would have cost £80,000 a year for five years.

“It was one of the most expensive pieces of estate and was not fit for purpose for the work of the commissioner,” she said.

In her new office, no rent would have to be paid to Kent Police, she added.

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