LANCASHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner has accused opposition councillors of “creating a smoke screen” by claiming he is spending huge sums on appointing assistants in his new role.
PCC Clive Grunshaw, who still holds a position as Pharos ward councillor on Wyre Council, was the subject of a notice of motion at the latest full council meeting.
Four Conservative councillors said they “deplore the decision of the PCC to appoint four assistant commissioners and a deputy commissioner” at a cost of £100,000.
Coun Peter Gibson also told the meeting Coun Grunshaw twice voted to cut Police Community Support Officers budgets while leader of the opposition in 2009 and 2010 but had about turned as PCC.
Coun MacNaughton, who tabled the motion, said: “This money is being squeezed out of the budget to pay for image building and re-paying of political favours. To pay £100,000 on these unnecessary jobs is just plain wrong.”
Coun Gibson added: “In opposition he wanted to reduce the PCSOs but in power he wants to protect them. If Labour had been in power in Wyre there would have been no funding for PCSOs.”
Coun Gibson says Coun Grunshaw proposed to remove £227,000 dedicated PCSO funding in 2009/10 and 2010/11. But as PCC he recently announced his office would match any funding put up by Wyre Council to keep them on the streets of the borough.
The notice of motion was backed by Conservative councillors while the Labour group voted against it.
Coun Penny Martin, leader of the Labour group, said the correct procedure had been followed by Coun Grunshaw in appointing staff.
She added: “The notice of motion isn’t about appointments or adversaries, it’s a smoke screen.
“The problem here is the massive Government cuts to the police.”
Mr Grunshaw, who did not attend the meeting, said: “I have given a clear commitment to retain the funding for all PCSOs which are part-funded from local authorities across Lancashire.
“They give a fantastic service and are greatly valued by the public.
“Wyre Council’s remaining PCSOs are not therefore under threat from my office but solely from decisions being taken by Coun Gibson and his colleagues.
“His attempts to smear me are clearly aimed at creating a smokescreen for his own actions.
“The funding in reserves was from, at the time, future years and did not necessarily need to be ring-fenced for PCSOs but could still be used to fund them.”