Morecambe MP welcomes extra police funding

Photo Neil Cross David Morris, MP for Morecambe.
Photo Neil Cross David Morris, MP for Morecambe.
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Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris says he welcomes an extra £6m in police funding for Lancashire in 2018/19.

A vote in Parliament on the Police Funding Grant on Wednesday February 7 allowed Police and Crime Commissioners to increase police council tax precepts by up to £1 a month for the average household.

Photo Neil Cross'Police raid a house in Brookfield, Preston, during Operation Nexus'Clive Grunshaw

Photo Neil Cross'Police raid a house in Brookfield, Preston, during Operation Nexus'Clive Grunshaw

But Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said that council tax is not the best and fairest way to fund the police, and questioned the settlement amount from central government.

He said: “Demand on the policing service continues to increase, and it is disappointing that the Government have not responded to this with central funding – this is a short term, unsustainable fix and not the answer to the funding of policing.”

Mr Morris said that the total direct resource funding in 2017/18 was £260.3m, which will increase to £266.5m in 2018/19 as a result of the vote.

He said: “I welcome today’s increase in police funding and was pleased to be present to vote on this important motion.

Councillor Lizzi Collinge.

Councillor Lizzi Collinge.

“Lancashire Police are doing a fantastic job in the community in Morecambe and Lunesdale and this commitment to give them extra funding allows them to carry on with the fantastic job they are doing.

“I was appalled that Labour voted against a £450m increase in police funding and voted against an increase of £50m to counter terrorism.”

Nick Hurd, Minister of State for Policing said in a written statement on January 31: “The government is committed to protecting the public and providing the resources necessary for the police to do their critical work. We have listened to the police and recognised the demands they face. That is why I can confirm that the allocations that have been laid before the House today are the same as those proposed in my Statement of 19 December 2017.

“These proposals increase total investment in the police system by up to £450m year on year in 2018/19.

“In 2018/19, we will provide each Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) with the same amount of core Government grant funding as in 2017/18.

“Protecting police grant means PCCs retain the full benefit from any additional local Council Tax income.”

In an open letter to Mr Morris, Labour County Councillor Lizzi Collinge, who has been chosen to stand for the Morecambe and Lunesdale seat at the next general election, said that Labour would be calling on the Government to urgently think again and come back with a fair settlement that properly protects communities.

She added: “And we are calling on Tory MPs to stand up for their constituents by voting down Theresa May’s latest cuts to police budget.”

Mr Grunshaw previously told the Lancaster Guardian that the extra money raised is not likely to create any new officer posts.

Lancashire Police needs to save £16m by 2020 - on top of £72m already saved - and any increase in council tax would only go towards plugging this gap.

He said: “It is disappointing that David Morris is not being honest with council tax payers about the Government’s latest policing funding settlement.

“Any additional money towards policing in Lancashire has had to come through Council Tax, passing the buck onto local tax payers to paper over some of the cracks caused by years of austerity.

“Residents who took part in my consultation have indicated clearly that they want to see money invested in the police with a large majority supporting my proposed changes.

“These will add an estimated £5m to the policing budget in Lancashire and protect some roles that otherwise would have been under threat.

“I don’t agree that Council Tax is the best or fairest way to fund the police. Areas with similar budgets to Lancashire, like Essex and Sussex, are able to raise 40-50 per cent more than we can with exactly the same increase in the precept.

“However, as this is the only tool available to me to ensure there aren’t further cuts to our policing budget, this has to be the course we take.”