Portsmouth MP demands Hampshire crime commissioner spend cash in ‘rainy day’ fund

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan
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AN MP has demanded crime commissioner Michael Lane immediately spend cash stored away for a ‘rainy day’ on frontline policing.

Labour MP Stephen Morgan has taken aim at Mr Lane as the Tory police and crime commissioner faces a no-confidence vote led by Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter.

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane

It comes after Mr Lane stashed away £440,000 initially destined to pay for his ‘essential staff’ costs.

As reported by The News, the money was put into reserves after he lost key budget vote over the expenditure while 160 specialist police jobs were axed.

Writing to Mr Lane, Portsmouth South MP Mr Morgan said business owners had calculated around 230 firms had suffered break-ins ‘over the last year’.

He said: ‘I understand you have set aside £440,000 in reserves for rainy days… well, it’s raining in Portsmouth.’

He added: ‘I urge you to make this money available, not for office expenditure, but for investment in frontline policing in Portsmouth.’

The News revealed the cash was due to be spent on Mr Lane’s office staff ahead of a Police and Crime Panel meeting in January – where he was dealt a body blow by councillors who insisted he instead spend the money on policing.

He is still conducting a review into how the cash will be spent, stashing it away until a decision is made.

Mr Morgan said policing had been ‘cut to the bone’.

He said: ‘Mr Lane needs to know that it’s not just raining in Portsmouth, it’s pouring. The water is rising and risks washing some of our small businesses away on his watch.

In a letter to Mr Morgan, Mr Lane wrote: ‘I am very aware of the concerns raised by you and other community leaders as well as members of the public about this year’s policing budget.

‘It is the responsibility of the Chief Constable to set the operational plan, propose efficiencies, and deploy resources where they are needed most. Whilst I support her in doing this, I have insisted and will continue to insist that she brief me regularly on risks to operational effectiveness.

‘I will discuss the concerns you have raised over the situation in Portsmouth with her as part of our regular meetings.’