Great Cornard: Council withdraws PCSO funding

Cornard councillor Tony Bavington

Cornard councillor Tony Bavington - Credit: Archant

FUNDING for a police community support officer (PCSO) in a Suffolk village has been withdrawn because councillors believe there is no proof that the scheme is providing value for money.

Since 2009, Great Cornard Parish Council has paid £15,000 annually towards a Pcso for the area, to equal the funding contributed by Suffolk Police.

But councillors have voted not to renew the match funding agreement because they say a request to the Suffolk force for information about how the money is being spent has not been adequately answered.

Council member Tony Bavington said police Inspector Paul Crick had written to the council but had not given enough detail about the work of the Pcso.

At a recent parish meeting, some council members said they felt they were paying for something they were “not getting” and others said they would prefer to have more “qualifed police officers” on the beat.

According to councillor Frances Jackson, the council decided it would be impossible to continue with the funding because it did not know what it was getting for its money. She said: “I am not in any way criticising the work of the community officers but money is tight and we have to justify where we are spending it. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to be able to do that because the police have not given us the relevant information.

“Cornard is an area that needs policing adequately and the original decision to match the funding was made because we saw it as a way of getting extra people on the beat. We are one of very few councils in Suffolk to take on match funding agreements. But now we don’t know if we are actually getting any of the extra input that our money was put forward for.”

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Last night a force spokesman said Suffolk Police recognised that the match funding from Great Cornard Parish Council had enabled them to “increase the policing of the area”. He added: “If a decision has been made to not renew the agreement and provide funding in the future, we completely understand that due to the economic climate and requirement for local authorities to make savings where necessary, this funding can no longer continue.”

He said local communities could be reassured that the Sudbury and Great Cornard Safer Neighbourhood Team would continue to provide a “reassuring presence” in the area.

“We will continue to listen to local people’s issues and concerns and set priorities in line with local needs. Coupled with this, response officers are working in the area and respond to any emergency calls as and when they come in,” he continued.

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