THE LEADERS of Northampton Borough Council have refused to back down on controversial plans to cut £100,000 of funding from the police. When Guildhall officials announced their annual budget plans in December, they included proposals to withdraw funding for three of the town’s Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). The council’s leading cabinet last night backed the proposals, despite opposition politicians claiming the reduction, combined with last year’s switch off of half the county’s street lights and new plans to reduce the number of people who monitor the town’s CCTV cameras, would lead to an increase in crime.
Councillor David J Mackintosh
Leader of the Council (Con)
Labour opposition councillor at the Guildhall, Councillor Terry Wire (Lab, St James) said: “We’re totally opposed to cutting PCSOs and we know the people of Northampton are up in arms about it. “But I don’t think the council is listening, that’s why we’ll put forward an alternative budget next week to show how the council could keep on funding PCSOs.”
The leader of the Liberal Democrat group, Councillor Sally Beardsworth (Lib Dem, Kingsthorpe) also criticised the proposed funding cut, pointing out 71 per cent of people who had responded to the council’s budget consultation also opposed the move. She said: “People I’ve spoken to feel the presence of PCSOs makes the community feel a lot safer and there’s a concern crime will increase if they go.” But the leader of the authority, Councillor David Mackintosh (Con, Rectory Farm) stood by previous claims that the council should not fund the police. Pointing out the council’s budget would pay for extra neighbourhood wardens and staff in the council’s licensing department, he said: “We don’t have the money to keep funding PCSOs and do everything else we want to do. “We have to make some difficult decisions in the budget, but I’ve consistently said that policing should be paid for by the police authority.” Northamptonshire County Council also plans to pull £500,000 of funding for PCSOs, but it will give the police a further £300,000 to tackle violent crime.
Other proposals in the borough council’s budget include plans to keep council tax at current levels, the removal of four senior managers at the Guildhall and an investment of £430,000 in the town’s Enterprise Zone.
The budget is due to be finally approved by the council next week.