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First ever council tax referendum held today in Bedfordshire

The first ever referendum on a council tax increase is being held today in Bedfordshire.

The referendum has been triggered by Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner Olly Martins, who wants a massive 15.8% increase in his council tax precept.

The Coalition introduced requirements for any authority that wants to increase rates by more than 2% to put the plan to a local vote in 2012-13, but so far no poll has been held.

According to Martins, the increase will generate an additional £4.5m, which will pay for the recruitment of 100 more police constables.

The increase has already taken effect as the law dictates the Police Precept be billed in April, when the new financial year starts, however if the referendum fails any extra that was paid will be refunded.

In addition to the referendum there are four further elections taking place at Bedford Borough Council today, the largest number of any council area.

There are polls for two parliamentary seats, an elected mayor, the borough council and parish councils.

Election staff will first count the votes for the parliamentary seats Thursday night, while mayoral and council elections will be counted on Friday afternoon. Parish council votes will be counted Saturday and the council tax referendum on Monday.

(Image source: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

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