How many policemen have the government's aborted police merger plan cost Kent?
That is the question being asked today by North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale.
The MP is writing to Kent's Chief Constable, Mike Fuller, to establish the true cost, to the County, of the time-wasting exercise that led to Kent being awarded status as a stand-alone strategic force before Charles Clark's proposed national merger scheme collapsed in disarray and was effectively abandoned by new Home Secretary John Reid.
"Thousands of hours of police administrative time was spent nationally preparing plans and figures for unwanted mergers" says the MP "and all of that time and effort cost energy and money that could and should have been spent on the fight against crime.
We are now left with the worst of all worlds: a huge bill and no progress. I want to know how much this has cost Kent and how much it has cost the country because I believe that the Home Secretary should be compelled to fund, out of his existing budget, the looses incurred by police forces around the United Kingdom."