Tuesday, 28 July 2015

No to cuts; fair funding for Cornwall needed

My article in tomorrow’s Cornish Guardian will be as follows:

The new Conservative Government has launched a new spending review with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announcing plans for another £20 billion of cuts to public services across the UK.

Osborne has demanded that all his ministers – other than those responsible for protected areas such as schools and health – investigate cuts of up to 40% by 2020.

Such deep cuts will be extremely bad news for Cornwall.

Take local government as an example. It is struggling to maintain those services that people have a right to expect, and the unitary authority has already “anticipated” and planned for further cuts of over 30%. The damage being caused is palpable, whereas the impact of additional cuts cannot be over emphasised.

And yet, at the same time that George Osborne is planning to “slash,” the Government is failing to properly address the historic and ongoing under-funding of public services in Cornwall.

This is disgraceful. And it is so bad that the Tory Police Commissioner for Cornwall and Devon, Tony Hogg, has even had to set up a petition to demand “fair funding” for the local police service from his own government!

Over the last few years, funding for the “Devon and Cornwall” Constabulary has been slashed by over £50 million. Hundreds of police officers and civilian support staff have lost their jobs, public desks at local police stations have been closed, and some stations – such as the one at St Blazey – are under threat of closure.

Mr Hogg is right to bring attention to how we receive “less government funding than other police areas,” with the residents of Cornwall and Devon paying “39% of the local policing bill through the council tax.” The comparable figure is so much lower elsewhere, for example, in Merseyside (17%), Greater Manchester (22%) and London (27%) – which receive higher levels of central government funding.

Commissioner Hogg estimates that his Constabulary misses out on £12 million each year.

He has also brought attention to how the Metropolitan Police gets “additional millions to take account of the daily influx of commuters,” whereas “no account” is taken of the “tourist influx” into Cornwall and Devon, or indeed the greater cost of policing in rural areas.

What a contrast between the Westminster rhetoric of the Conservative Party, and the consequences of their actions.

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