Bring back PCSO grant and crack down on ‘extreme’ protesters, says senior councillor

A senior Leeds politician has called on authorities to crack down on “extreme” protesters, and for the council to reinstate its funding for police community support officers.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 11:45 am

A motion, known as a white paper, was submitted by leader of Leeds City Council’s Conservatives group, and also calls on the authority to give more protection to council officers and members, following the killing of MP Sir David Amess last month.

The calls come in the wake of the council’s decision earlier this year to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds towards PCSOs, as part of further cuts to its budget.

The white paper will go before a full Leeds City Council meeting next week, where members will vote on whether to adopt the statement as council policy.

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The calls come in the wake of the council’s decision earlier this year to cut hundreds of thousands of pounds towards PCSOs, as part of further cuts to its budget. PIC: JPI

It reads: “This council calls on the administration to make community safety and the prevention of crime and disorder a priority for funding and resources.

“Council remains concerned about the administration’s February budget decision to cut funding for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

“At a time when residents are concerned about crime and disorder, and when central government is providing substantial funds to recruit more police officers, the local Leeds decision to cut community safety funding will seem inexplicable to many communities, and risks undermining wider efforts to build back better after the pandemic.”

Leeds City Council’s ruling Labour group announced in its February budget that it expected to save around £625,000 from the scrapping of the its subsidy for Police and Community Support Officers.

Last month’s spending review by Chancellor Rishi Sunak committed an extra £540m by 2025 to recruit the final 8,000 officers to meet the Government’s commitment to employ 20,000 additional police officers.

Coun Carter’s motion also takes aim at protesters, claiming those using “extreme” methods cause disruption to the economy and to the public.

It stated: “Whilst supporting the right to peaceful protest, council also notes events in other parts of the country which have highlighted concerns about some protest groups, whose extreme actions threaten to damage the economy and cause an unacceptable level of disruption to the public.

“Council also notes recent tragic events which have highlighted the specific threats posed to elected representatives carrying out their duties on behalf of the public.”

It concluded: “Council calls on the administration to work with the West Yorkshire Mayor and other partners to urgently action the following.

“Reverse the budget cut to PCSOs and uphold the long-standing Leeds commitment to financially support PCSO deployment across the city to boost community safety for residents.

“Put in place local measures and allocate sufficient resources to ensure Leeds is prepared to respond effectively if disruptive protests of the type seen elsewhere come to the streets of Leeds and threaten to damage the city’s post-pandemic recovery.

“Ensure the appropriate level of resources are provided for the safety and protection of council officers in front-line roles and elected members carrying out their responsibilities.”

The motion will be discussed at a full Leeds City Council meeting on Wednesday, November 10.

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