BUDGET savings of £28 million, including the controversial scrapping of a £500,000 fund to provide Police Community Support Officers, have been approved by councillors. During a marathon, six hour meeting at County Hall yesterday, the Conservative leaders of Northamptonshire County Council approved their money saving plans. The move will mean almost 300 council jobs will be cut, charges for adult social care will rise, £500,000 will be taken away from children’s centres and the council will take away the money it currently gives to fund Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
Councillor Jim Harker
Leader of the County Council (Con)
The leaders of the council defended the cut to PCSO funding, arguing the police authority should foot the bill, but opposition leaders and anti-cuts demonstrators condemned the party for going back on their 2009 election pledge to “provide £500,000 per annum for extra PCSOs”.
The leader of the opposition, Councillor Brendan Glynane (Lib Dem, Delapre) said: “They’re failing to support the people of Northamptonshire by failing to support visible policing and they’ve now lost the right to call themselves ‘the party of law and order’. “They were elected on a promise of providing more visible policing. They had the opportunity to do that, but they’ve failed.”
He was backed by the deputy leader of the Labour group, Councillor Mark Bullock (Lab, Corby Central) who added: “The Conservatives promised the community they would fund PCSOs and they’ve let them down.” Instead of providing £500,000 for PCSOs, the county council will give the police £300,001 to help tackle violent crime.
The leader of the authority, Councillor Jim Harker (Con, Kettering Rural) said: “The hard fact is that crime prevention is the responsibility of the police and our reduced reserves don’t allow us to carry on with our funding indefinitely.” The cabinet member for finance, Councillor Bill Parker (Con, Brambleside) added: “The money we’re giving the police to tackle violent crime will allow the police authority to spend a similar amount on front-line policing. This really is a win, win for everyone in Northamptonshire.” He also said the council’s decision not to increase council tax would be welcomed by residents, adding: “I’m sure Northamptonshire residents will be grateful that more money will be staying in their pockets. “Not only does this help reduce the burden on household budgets, it also supports our local economy.”