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Police cash crisis goes to minister

MP John Hayes headed a top level delegation to a Government minister in a bid to defuse a ticking time bomb over the funding of Lincolnshire Police.

The force is one of the worst funded in the country and could be £6.5million in the red three years from now if

nothing is done.

Mr Hayes, the South Holland and the Deepings MP, said Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd has agreed to look at the case.

Also there were fellow county MPs Matt Warman, Dr Caroline Johnson and Sir Edward Leigh, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones and Lincolnshire Chief Constable Bill Skelly.

Mr Hayes said: “We set out our arguments for improved funding and discussed the challenges we are facing in Lincolnshire, particularly in long-term planning for recruitment in the absence of assurances about adequate funding.”

He said Mr Hurd “genuinely listened” and asked questions about the sums needed to guarantee recruitment.

“He said he was going to look at fairer funding in due course,” said Mr Hayes. “But in the shorter term he was

prepared to consider our case for more immediate funding.”

H didn’t promise money, but he promised to take a good look at it.”

Mr Hayes said over the years, Lincolnshire Police has been given “various bits of money” as short-term help but the more fundamental issue is the funding formula and he’s been campaigning for 20 years to win a better deal for Lincolnshire.

Mr Jones also focused on funding – but Mr Hurd also learned how Lincolnshire is now amongst the most progressive police forces as far as technology developments are concerned with the introduction of new vehicles and drones, front line officers issued with cutting edge handheld computers and a new multi-million pound command and control system in the pipeline.

Mr Jones told the minister that an average 25p a week council tax rise and a £5.3 million use of reserves had allowed him to protect policing budgets for the current year but the future is still uncertain.

But he warned that, with reserves now depleted, the force faces a funding gap which could hit £6.5m by 2021 if current funding levels do not change.

He said: “It was a very helpful meeting and the minister listened with interest to the developments we are making to create the most effective and efficient force possible.

“The support of our local MPs was instrumental in both getting the meeting and making the case for Lincolnshire. We are still one of the lowest funded forces in the country and I will continue the drive to get our county a funding deal that will allow us to maintain service levels.

“The minister heard our arguments and we will have to wait to see the outcome. I am hopeful the meeting is a positive step towards resolving our problem.”

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