PCSOs at centre of a new cash row

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The Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, has reignited the row over Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in Wyre.

Speaking on the first anniversary of his appointment as PCC, the former Wyre Council Labour Party leader admitted there had been setbacks to his pledge to protect PCSOs in the rural district.

Eleven posts were axed after Wyre Council cut its part-funding for the posts earlier this year.

The police commissioner said: “One of our first commitments was to work with our local partners to part-fund the PCSOs.

“We gave our support and ringfenced the match funding.

“Wyre Council chose to withdraw their share. It is disappointing, PCSOs are a key part of neighbourhood policing, but to take up the part-funding of every local area, we’re clearly not in a situation to do that.”

Wyre Council axed its funding in March.

Wyre Council leader Peter Gibson branding the contributions ‘totally unfair.’

The council has spent more than £1m since 2006, part-funding 11 officers in the borough, including two at Garstang, alongside 13 fully funded by the police. This compared with 18 fully police-funded officers based in Fylde.

There is now one PCSO John Holland covering Garstang and surrounding villages from Barton to Forton. PCSO Terry Molloy is responsible for villages Over Wyre.

Wyre Council leader Peter Gibson said: “I’d like to make it very clear we do value our PCSOs and the work they do but the question is should the police be paying for them or the Wyre tax payer?

“The Commissioner has announced there are 74 vacancies throughout Lancashire for PCSOs but he and the Chief Constable have made clear they are going to leave those posts empty - do they value those posts as much as they claim to?

“I put to him the situation in Fylde where they have never part-funded PCSOs - why should the Wyre tax payer put into the pot?”

Mr Grunshaw added the match-funding was a fair arrangement but there was no provision to award further funding to the district.

He insisted he had a good working relationship with Wyre Council and a key part of his role was working with the local authorities and partner agencies to help deliver on the priorities highlighted by the community.

Mr Grunshaw added: “One of the overwhelming factors coming through from the public was the need for visible policing- PCSOs, bobbies on the beat, contact with the neighbourhood policing teams.

“Community engagement was the first thing we needed to do and I think we did that. PCCs have made a big difference, giving the public a greater opportunity to get involved in ways they never did before. And it is really important that the police are held to account.

“The biggest challenge has been the budget. That’s a frustration because we’ve got major challenges going forward with that.”