Portsmouth’s people ‘left voiceless’ over cuts to police funding

Police funding caused a spat at a meeting of Portsmouth City Council
Police funding caused a spat at a meeting of Portsmouth City Council
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PEOPLE in Portsmouth have been left ‘voiceless’ after a motion to lobby the government for more cash for the county’s police force was ignored.

Lib Dem Lee Hunt had urged the council to unite and write a ‘strongly worded letter’ to the home secretary Amber Rudd to object to cash cuts. Cllr Hunt claimed the government was axing £3.67m from Hampshire police and not providing any support for inflation rises, leaving the force facing £7m in real-term cuts, he said.

But the Tory administration at the city council rubbished this claim. At Tuesday’s full council meeting, Conservatives voted not to debate the motion, instead bouncing it off to a future cabinet meeting to discuss.

Lib Dem boss Gerald Vernon-Jackson stood by the claims. He said: ‘Debating this is completely possible – it’s just politically inconvenient for the Conservatives because they don’t want to criticise the government. Once again, they are putting politics before Portsmouth.

‘It seems that the Conservatives are unwilling to lobby the government on behalf of the city because they share the same political colour as the people running the country.

‘That’s a terrible decision because it means that people in the city are left voiceless if they want to lobby for things like the police or the NHS.’

But the Tories said they made their decision because the Lib Dems’ motion was ‘so full of errors’.

A party statement said: ‘The motion, covering police budgets, falsely claimed that Hampshire Constabulary’s central government grant is to be reduced in cash terms this year. In truth the grant for this coming year will be identical – to the pound.

‘It also gave the impression that the police have borne a disproportionate reduction in budget, whereas local authorities have had their budgets trimmed at the twice the rate.

‘These errors made it impossible for the council to debate. It will now be considered by the council’s cabinet.’

Cllr Donna Jones added: ‘The incompetence of the Lib Dems is quite staggering given that they ran the council for over a decade.

‘The funding figures for the police have been in the public domain for months and months. You’d think they’d be able to do their research properly.’

In Hampshire, the police and crime commissioner – Tory Michael Lane, who has been lobbying the government for more money – proposed to increase his share of the council tax by £12. The Tories said this will mean an overall increase in the police budget of about £7m.