Tory MP defiant over £73m cuts to police budget

Photo Ian Robinson Police press conference at Lancashire Constabulary headquarters in Hutton Lancashire Chief Constable Steve Finnigan
Photo Ian Robinson Police press conference at Lancashire Constabulary headquarters in Hutton Lancashire Chief Constable Steve Finnigan
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“Everyone knew they were coming,” that was the response of Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard to the latest round of police austerity cuts.

Lancashire Police’s Chief Constable Steve Finnigan announced a catalogue of cuts that will see the force meet it’s £73m budget deficiency by 2017/18.

Responding to concerns raised by community leaders and top police chiefs that the cuts were pushing the emergency services to “crisis point”, Mr Maynard said the police have had time to “factor them into their plans”.

The Tory MP said: “Emergency services, like anything that is publicly funded, are under pressure to make savings. However these reductions are not ‘new’, but part of the Government’s ongoing deficit reduction strategy which has seen the national deficit reduced by a third.

“Everyone knew they were coming, and have had to factor them into their plans, and they have been part of Lancashire Police presentations to me for some time. I am sadly not surprised by the Chief Constable’s party political response, when he had a chance to congratulate his force on a sustained reduction in crime across the county.

“Not every proposal by him is necessarily a good idea, and it wasn’t in the past, when I had to fight to overturn his proposals to close Bispham’s police station front desk.

“Saving money by amalgamating divisions might well make sense, but forcing some Blackpool staff to commute to Hutton might be less sensible, for example. I expect our elected Labour Police & Crime Commissioner to shape these proposals, not just wring his hands. While we all recognise that public spending has to be got under control, for the sake of future generations, all custodians of the public’s money have a duty to ensure good value.”

Since 2009 the police budget has been cut by 25 per cent.

Other services including the Fire Service are also under pressure to make savings. Blackpool’s Forest Gate Station is in jeopardy of losing one of it’s two pumps in a £10m cost cutting measure.

The cuts could also see South Shore Fire Station lose three of it’s full time watches.

Blackpool’s new top cop, Chief Superintendent Richard Bayly says the resort’s residents probably won’t notice any changes. He has just taken over the reins from former Ch Supt Richard Debeicki. He said: “My officers in Blackpool are more committed than ever in providing a top quality service. In all honesty members of the public will probably see very little difference in the police interaction they have.

“Despite all of these cuts and the pressures we have an 88 per cent satisfactory rate among the community.”