Policing chief in cuts plea

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner
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Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw is urging Home Secretary Teresa May to rethink savage police cuts – warning the county will face “real consequences”.

Mr Grunshaw has written a letter to the Home Secretary arguing that police budgets are bearing an unfair level of cuts due to the fact that other public budgets are protected.

He says the £4.2m proposed to be top-sliced from the Lancashire budget to fund national bodies, such as the HMIC and IPCC, is adding to the burden and will impact on the force.

In his letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Grunshaw wrote: “Here in Lancashire not only did we receive the bombshell news that we would face a massive reduction of £9.8m off our funding allocation for 2015/16 we also discovered that the cuts included a £4.2m top-slice (a 90 per cent increase) to fund a range of national initiatives and bodies.”

The Commissioner is currently consulting residents on the police precept – the part of the council tax that goes towards funding the police – and says early indications show that residents are willing to see it increased by up to 15p per week to help protect police roles.

However, the Government will not allow the Commissioner to raise council tax above 2 per cent without staging a referendum, at a cost of £1.5m.

Mr Grunshaw added in his letter: “Holding a referendum in Lancashire will cost around £1.5m and I don’t believe this is a good use of declining public funds.

“I believe a referendum to be totally unnecessary especially as I have recently polled Lancashire residents and 80 per cent told me they are willing to pay a council tax increase above the referendum threshold.

“But I can’t implement this increase without a referendum. This is central government dictating to local government and taking action to restrict our ability to make local decisions based on local need.”

Mr Grunshaw told The Gazette: “What I want from Teresa May is to deliver that flexibility around the precept.

“I’m committed to delivering the priorities that people in Lancashire have highlighted.

“We have lost 700 police officers so far and 400 police staff, these numbers will increase over the next two to three years if the cuts continue as planned.

“I want the success that we have in Lancashire to continue and not be dismantled.

“The cuts are relentless and they will put the service at risk.”

Mr Grunshaw has also written to the county’s MPs urging them to support his stance.

He added: “All of the 16 MPs for Lancashire have been sent a letter, asking them for support with this.

“There is time for them to lobby the Home Office.”

The Lancashire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers across the country, yesterday raised concerns about future cuts to the force, claiming there will be a lack of front-line police.