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Hayes in the House - Address funding to make us proud of public services

By Spalding Today Columnist

Unchecked, crime blights lives and sometimes, tragically, costs them.

It’s our brave policemen and policewomen who stand between us and chaos.

That is why, fighting for the fairer funding required to ensure our boys in blue can combat crime – major or minor, I have led delegations of Lincolnshire MPs, worked closely with our excellent Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones and spoken on many occasions to Police Minister Nick Hurd to make the case for additional resources. So, I am absolutely delighted to see the Government agree to provide a £1.8 million Special Grant for Lincolnshire Constabulary.

Most credit though must also go to Marc Jones and Chief Constable Bill Skelly, who have worked tirelessly to cut waste and make savings, enabling an extra £370,000 to be spent on frontline policing.

This invaluable injection of cash is testament to the combined efforts of all those who fight for our county, both in Westminster and here at home.

Thirty new officers will be recruited by the force. Every one of them will help to keep those we love safe.

Tackling the increasingly complex, challenging character of crime requires new ideas as well as new money.

"County line" drug dealing, rural criminal damage, hare coursing, cybercrime and small business theft continue to present significant, multifaceted challenges for law enforcement.

Meanwhile, old fashioned, community policing should also be a top priority. These are not competing options, both matter, which is why I welcome the commitment made by Marc Jones to invest in "innovative and effective projects that will cut offending, keep communities safer, reduce the number of victims and improve the effectiveness of the force".

Though this extra money for the police is welcome, it doesn’t mean I’ll cease to address the unfairness in funding faced by Lincolnshire’s vital public services.

For decades there have been stark disparities between shire counties and urban areas – the latter receiving a disproportionate amount of government expenditure.

With this in mind, I will shortly publish a paper entitled: "Why the Yellowbellyache? The Chronic Case of Lincolnshire’s Underfunding by Central Government".

The results of my research are striking, with sparsely populated Lincolnshire consistently less able to afford bobbies on the beat than any other county in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Gary Porter, our district council leader is right to reiterate (Spalding Guardian, May 30th) that it isn’t just our police force that gets a raw deal.

Both adult and children’s services are struggling to cope with a sizeable growth in demand. If central government believe they can make savings through cuts to local funding, they are committing the classic error of false economy.

The more effective we are in addressing matters of social concern early, locally and effectively the less demand there will be for more costly services later, thus saving taxpayers money.

A convoluted system of funding has resulted in a lack of understanding, contributing on occasions to the unfair perception that local councils are exclusively to blame for cuts to provision.

In fact, whilst I know that local government doesn’t always get things right, our councillors are decent people trying to do what is best.

Central government must ensure a simplified funding formula that addresses rural deprivation and the consequent difficulties. Only then, here in Lincolnshire and across rural Britain, will we have public services of which to be proud.


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