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Labour councillors hit back at false Liberal Democrat claims that City Council has cut local policing

Cambridge Labour councillors have hit back at false claims in Cambridge Liberal Democrat leaflets that the Labour-led City Council is lewis_h_S_shot.JPGcutting local police services and funds available to Cambridge police. Labour-run Cambridge City Council is ending a contribution to the tune of £51,000 per year paid for a decade direct to Cambridgeshire Constabulary central funds in Huntingdon, after receiving confirmation from senior police officers that this change will have no impact at all on police services in Cambridge.

The annual contribution was first paid in 2005, along with one-off payments by other councils for then new Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). The city alone continued payment as similar payments by other Cambridgeshire councils ended shortly after, as has been confirmed by the current Deputy Police Commissioner in relation to East Cambridgeshire District Council, where he was previously the authority’s leader.

Detailed statistics for Cambridge PCSOs also show numbers have moved up and down irrespective of council contributions. Cambridgeshire Police also confirmed that the ending of council funding will make no difference to PCSO numbers in the city.

Labour has also criticised Lib Dem leaflets for repeatedly using a photo from Wikipedia in their leaflets of a 2008 riot of football supporters at Piccadilly Gardens, central Manchester, that has no connection at all to Cambridge.

On policing, the Labour-led council is investing over £350,000 in 2015 in initiatives to reduce crime and combat domestic violence, supporting also police plans to tackle alcohol-linked violence, and implement new Public Space Protection Orders to cut anti-social behaviour by intoxicated drinkers in the Mill Road area after a consultation survey showed 67% local support. These new measures have all come about after Labour seized control of the City Council from the Lib Dems in May 2014.

On the Liberal Democrat record on policing, Labour Councillors point to damaging police funding changes voted in by Julian Huppert and other Lib Dem MPs. The Cambridgeshire Police Commissioner, which Julian Huppert voted for, has private office costs that would fund 30 extra Police Constables. Liberal Democrats MPs in the Coalition have also voted for cuts of £19.8 million in the Cambridgeshire police budget central grant, says Labour, which has led to 94 fewer Cambridgeshire police staff since 2010.

Leader of Cambridge City Council, Councillor Lewis Herbert, said: “Since 2005, the previous Lib Dem City Council has effectively gifted Cambridgeshire Constabulary roughly £400,000 and received nothing in return. Instead, we are reinvesting this money in vital public services including new crime initiatives without affecting any PCSOs in the city. Cambridge residents and businesses already pay for policing through a totally separate part of their Annual Council Tax, and the Police Commissioner clearly thinks there’s no need for extra local funds as he froze Council Tax funding for policing this year.

“The Liberal Democrats are being irresponsible and cynical in spreading false claims, playing on people’s fear of crime for attempted political benefit. I hope they raise their standard of debate in the seven weeks before the elections because the residents of Cambridge deserve better.”

“Instead of misleading the public and seeking a distraction, Liberal Democrats should increase policing finances by supporting Labour’s plan to end the wasteful new Police Commissioners, voted through by Julian Huppert and Liberal Democrat MPs. The Cambridgeshire Police Commissioner’s private office costs £1.2 million a year, money which would fund 30 extra Police Constables. We will also not take lectures from Liberal Democrats MPs who have voted for national cuts of £19.8 million in Cambridgeshire policing since 2010, particularly given the new initiatives added by our Council to help the police cut crime in Cambridge.”

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