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Police cuts hit Bickerstaffe hardest

03.17.11 | Comment?

My statement on the police cuts only half made it into the press, so here it is in full:

Press statement on policing reductions in Bickerstaffe

Bickerstaffe Ward councillor Paul Cotterill has reacted to the plans, set out at a special briefing for councillors and the Community Safety Partnership last night, (Monday) to slash policing in rural West Lancashire.

The Community Beat Manager (CBM) post for the Bickerstaffe area, along with Simonswood, will be axed, along with other posts in Aughton, Downholland and Halsall, and there will be just one CBM left to cover the whole area.  This is part of the overall reduction of policing in the Ormskirk policing area from 12 to 7 posts.

Cllr Cotterill said: ‘Let’s be clear about this.  This is the end of neighbourhood policing in Bickerstaffe.  It is simply not possible for one officer to cover such a vast area of West Lancashire and offer anything even remotely resembling a neighbourhood policing service.  From one end of the new patch in Halsall to the other end of the St Helens border is a good half hour’s drive.  We might as well be covered by police from Salford, the same drive time away from Bickerstaffe.

This is a dark day for policing in Bickerstaffe and Simonswood parishes.  In Simonswood in particular, where cross-border crime from Merseyside has been an issue for residents, this loss will be very keenly felt, but it will hit all residents.

We also need to be clear about whose fault this is.  Lancashire police have been very clear that cutting frontline posts is absolutely a last resort, but they have been forced upon the police by the massive cuts imposed by the Tort-led government.  At last night’s meeting, a senior Conservative councillor started lambasting the police for not being efficient enough.  He spoke ignorantly and insultingly to people who want to offer the public a decent policing service but are being stopped from doing so by his government.  He would do better to speak in anger to his own Tory masters, but I don’t expect this to happen.

For myself, I’ll be doing what I can to mitigate the effects of these horrendous proposals.   I’m looking for immediate clarification over the situation over policing in South Lathom parish, the third of the Parish area in Bickerstaffe electoral Ward, and will be lobbying as hard as I can on the other parishes.  Realistically, however, anything I achieve as a ward councillor is likely to be around the edges, and the residents of Bickerstaffe will need to get used to the fact that this government doesn’t care about its policing and protection.

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