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MPs highlight Suffolk’s ‘unique challenges’ in police funding appeal

PUBLISHED: 14:58 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:19 05 December 2017

Left to right: Waveney MP Peter Aldous, policing minister Nick Hurd, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and Ipswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Left to right: Waveney MP Peter Aldous, policing minister Nick Hurd, South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge and Ipswich MP Sandy Martin. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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Suffolk MPs reinforced the case for Suffolk to get “fairer funding” when the Home Office allocates police budgets later this month.

They met policing minister Nick Hurd ahead of an announcement expected in the next two weeks.

Before the Autumn Budget, police and crime commissioner (PCC) Tim Passmore warned unfair funding threatened ability to fight crime and uphold safety.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge agreed funding should be proportionate to other counties, including Norfolk, where officers deal with fewer cases.

“We explained why we felt there was a strong case for looking at how Suffolk is funded,” he said.

“Suffolk has an efficient force and Nick Hurd praised its collaborative work with Norfolk, but recognised resources are stretched and demand is rising.

“There has, at least anecdotally, been an increase in certain crimes in my constituency, like theft from vehicles and sheds, and destructive rural lead theft.”

The PCC has proposed a 2pc council tax precept rise, having already “trimmed to the bone”, with budget reserves at a level Mr Passmore called critical.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said: “The PCC made a compelling case for additional funding.

“Feedback in my constituency suggests police presence and response has not been as visible or prompt as one would hope at times – but that is in no way a criticism of the police, who do a good job under pressure. It’s clear certain pressures coming home to roost, including County Lines (migrating drug gangs), which can leave police seriously stretched.”

Sandy Martin said his Ipswich constituency had a serious issue with violent crime and that more resources were needed to stop levels rising.

“That’s not to undermine the need for a good level of policing elsewhere in the county,” he added.

“In fact, there is a lot to be said for increasing the amount going to policing across the country, but Suffolk is clearly underfunded, both in comparison to other counties and in absolute terms.”

Suffolk’s other MPs, unable to make the meeting on the day, were represented by office staff or by those in attendance.

Mr Passmore said: “I am really grateful for the support of the MPs; their help in this matter is absolutely crucial. I am not seeking to be alarmist but the financial pressures we face are significant and this is due largely to the current Home Office funding regime, which for years has had an in-built bias against large rural counties like Suffolk.”

The Home Office said it had protected overall police spending in real terms since 2015 and that funding will reflect work carried out to better understand changes in demand.

A number of schools have already announced plans to close across Suffolk and north Essex this morning after snowy weather hit the region.

Snow lovers will be delighted to hear that Suffolk and Essex could be getting a second flurry of the white stuff later today.

The parents of a six-year-old boy, who died from Meningitis B, are campaigning for a vaccination programme to be rolled out to all children.

Motorists are being warned of disruption on the region’s roads this morning as snow turns into ice following a weekend wintry blast.

Kesgrave High School will be closed today after a major power failure.

Multi-platinum selling artist Craig David has been announced as the first act for next year’s Newmarket Nights.

Residents will be asked for their views on a potential merger between the district councils of Babergh and Mid Suffolk.

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