Police cuts row explodes in council

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Tempers flared at Morecambe Town Hall as rival parties squared up over government cuts to the number of police on our streets.

Labour and Conservative members on Lancaster City Council blasted each other during a debate on growing fears about a 20% reduction in police budgets.

Coun Ian Pattison, Labour, said the city council should write to Theresa May, Home Secretary, and ask her to reverse the cuts.

“It’s having a detrimental effect on the police service in our area,” said Coun Pattison.

“It’s not a business, it’s not something you can scale back on, it’s a public service, there to protect the community.”

When Coun Pattison said: “This is not about party politics”, Conservative councillors at Wednesday’s meeting responded with derisive laughter.

“What would you do instead – cut the NHS budget or education – or Labour’s favourite, borrow more money?” asked Coun Peter Williamson, Tory leader.

“The chief executive (of the council) writing to the Home Secretary would have zero impact.

“Figures show 85% of victims in Lancashire are satisfied with the police. I wonder which percentage of taxpayers are confident with the Labour cabinet here?”

His Tory colleague Susie Charles called Labour’s suggestion “a nonsense”.

Then Coun David Smith,

Labour, called the Tories “the party of crime and disorder”.

Independent councillor, Geoff Marsland said: “Cutting police is like wrecking a Rolls Royce.

“You skimp and cut away all the time, you end up with an inferior product that falls apart in the end.”

Councillors then voted 24 to 17, with five abstaining, to write to the Home Secretary, expressing the council’s fears.

Lancashire Constabulary is planning to cut 550 officers and 60 other staff by 2015 to help save £44m.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) showed a 4% reduction in all crime in the county between December 2010 and December 2011, and that Lancashire Police will have 61% of its workforce in frontline roles by 2015, higher than other parts of England and Wales.