CONTROVERSIAL plans to cut £100,000 of police funding have been given final approval by the leaders of Northampton Borough Council, despite public protests.
bout 30 members of the public gathered outside the Guildhall last night to show their opposition to council plans to cut funding for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). They also handed over a petition of almost 2,500 signatures opposing the cuts.
Kingsthorpe resident, Judy Whitmore, who collected the signatures, said: “The PCSOs have become part of our lives in Northampton, we can’t afford to lose them now.”
She was backed by Stan Dean from the Northampton Association of Neighbourhood Watches. He said: “PCSOs are our eyes and ears on the street. They’re the friendly face of Northampton’s police.”
The Conservative leaders of the council said the authority could not afford to go on funding the police, but both Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors said they should.
Councillor Terry Wire (Lab, St James) spoke to oppose both the cuts to PCSOs and a reduction in the number of people who monitor the town’s CCTV system.
He said: “The council really is out of touch with the public. People are up in arms about these reductions.
“The PCSOs have done a wonderful job protecting the public and getting rid of them is just introducing a criminals’ charter.
“This will be the downfall of the Conservatives on Northampton Borough Council. It will be their Poll Tax.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Dennis Meredith (Lib Dem, Talavera) also opposed proposals in the budget to axe four senior managers at the Guildhall.
He said: “To lose some top people just so we can fund things like free parking for an hour is ludicrous. And plans to cut funding for the PCSOs are disgraceful.”
Other proposals which were approved in the budget last night include an investment of £430,000 in the town’s Enterprise Zone and an increase in the number of neighbourhood wardens in the town.
Commenting on the removal of funding for PCSOs, the council’s cabinet member for finance, Councillor Alan Bottwood (Con, Upton) said: “We’ve got to maintain tight control of our spending. The funding for PCSOs was put in place when the financial pressures on the council weren’t as great as they are now.”
Despite opposites from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, the Conservative’s budget was approved.
Council tax rates frozen.
Cutting £100,000 paid to Northamptonshire Police for Police Community Support Officers.
Raising £160,000 by increasing parking rates in the six ‘standard’ car parks on the fringes of the town centre.
Setting up a fund of £3,000 per councillor to be invested in their ward.
Establishing a £40,000 fund to help people with rats.
Investing £430,000 to boost regeneration in Northampton’s Enterprise Zone.
Savings £325,000 by reducing the number of senior managers by four.
Saving £39,0000 by reviewing the town’s CCTV network.