11 PCSOs face axe in funding row

Fleetwood and Wyre PCSOs outside Fleetwood Police Station.'L-R: PCSO Jeanette Ashurst, PCSO Becky Ainsworth and PCSO Alison Williams
Fleetwood and Wyre PCSOs outside Fleetwood Police Station.'L-R: PCSO Jeanette Ashurst, PCSO Becky Ainsworth and PCSO Alison Williams

THE number of police community support officers on the streets of Wyre looks set to be halved.

Eleven of the borough’s 24 PCSOs are facing the axe because Wyre Council argues it is no longer in a position to part-fund them.

That will leave just 13 remaining PCSOs in Wyre, all of whom are fully funded by the police,

Fleetwood councillor and Lancashire crime boss Clive Grunshaw urged the cabinet, which determined the issue, not to axe the 11 PCSOs.

The financial support is due to cease at the end of March. The cabinet has voted not to continue that support.

This is the first year the new Police and Crime Commissioner has been in charge of Lancashire’s policing budget, replacing the old Police Authority system.

Commissioner Grunshaw said the recommendation to stop part-funding them was “disappointing” and urged the council to continue backing the officers.

Before the meeting, he said: “I appeal to the Wyre Council cabinet not to agree to this recommendation, which would see the loss of a number of PCSOs from the area.

“I have attempted to ease the situation by committing to match-funding PCSOs for another year.

“I sympathise with the council’s financial situation but I don’t believe turning down funding from the constabulary for these additional posts is the right route to take.”

Wyre Council leader Coun Peter Gibson said while he knows how much residents value officers on the streets, he does not believe the council should have to pay for them.

Coun Gibson added: “The agreement to part-fund 11 PCSOs ceases on March 31.

“There is nothing in the budget for further years of funding.

“We’ve done a consultation and the overwhelming view was people value PCSOs but they thought the police should pay for them.

“If the police want PCSOs they should be paid for by them.”

In the past, the council has committed around £121,000 a year to part-fund the 11 posts – with a total of more than £1m paid towards the officers since 2006.

Coun Gibson also pointed out that in the borough of Fylde – where the council offers no part-funding – there are 18 fully-funded PCSOs despite it having a smaller population than Wyre.

He added: “I asked the police if they would at least fully fund five of the 11 PCSOs, but they said if we would not part-fund them, they would all have to go.

“Wyre has been generous in the past but we simply cannot afford it any more, because of cutbacks to our own funds.

“If Fylde is getting 18 PCSOs, fully supported by the police, we should get 26, according to population. Instead, we just get 13. That situation just isn’t fair.

“The PCSOs do an excellent job – but they should be funded by the police,”

As part of the plans, a council vehicle currently used by PCSOs would be added to the authority’s fleet.

Discussions are also ongoing about a bungalow at the civic centre in Poulton having to be leased by the police, at around £5,000 a year, instead of being offered free of charge.

It is not yet known if the PCSOs would be redeployed to a different area.