MONEY spent on High Speed 2 should be put to better use by funding the police, crime commissioner candidates have said.

Three contenders to become the new big cheese at Thames Valley Police have criticised the £33bn rail scheme as they stepped up their election campaigns this week.

See related articles below for more details on the elections and the new role.

The project, initially for a high speed track between London and Birmingham to cut journey times, was mentioned by three of the six contenders for the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner job, during a public debate.

All three major parties in the House of Commons support the idea.

Yet Tim Starkey, Labour's candidate, took a swipe at HS2, during his speech in Aylesbury on Monday evening.

Mr Starkey said: “I oppose 20 per cent cuts to police funding.

“I wish, probably like everyone in this room, that the Government would stop wasting money on High Speed 2 and put that money or some of that money back into policing.”

UKIP's police chief hopeful Barry Cooper also had a dig, saying: “The Lib Dems and Conservatives seem to think that spending money on foreign aid and useless and expensive vanity projects like HS2 are more important than the police.”

Conservative contender Anthony Stansfeld, also indicated his opposition to HS2.

He told the meeting:“I don't always agree with the Conservative party. As a businessman I can't see why we're putting in a huge railway line to get to Birmingham 20 minutes faster.”

Despite some serious questions being raised in Parliament recently about the economic argument for HS2, the government insists it will aid growth and help bridge the north-south divide.

The Coalition believe it will create jobs and provide what it says is a desperately needed increase in the rail network's capacity.

New Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said recently he intends to plough ahead with HS2 as quickly as possible.