Bristol budget: backlash begins
The backlash to Bristol mayor George Ferguson's £35 million budget cuts has already begun.
Police commissioner Sue Mountstevens has urged the city council to "think long and hard" before making any cuts to PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers).
Mr Ferguson has revealed that he proposes to cut £540,000 funding for 32 PCSOs who are paid for by the council.
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He admitted that the cut might have an impact on people's safety but said that ultimately, PCSOs are provided by the police.
There are 80 police-paid PCSOs working in the city.
Meanwhile, the council's Lib Dem leader Tim Kent has condemned the way in which Mr Ferguson has announced his budget proposals as "an embarrassing shambles".
He said: "After the Mayor leaked details to the press, allowing them to publish this morning, councillors – who are the democratically elected representatives of the public – have only learnt of his budget proposals from the media, not from the Mayor.
"This is a shambolic way to handle such an important budget and it shows real disregard for the democratic process and the city's ward councillors."The budget itself has a number of holes in it – with no figures provided next to some savings items.
"George talks about the majority of his cuts being in backroom services – 'working in a more modern, cost-effective way' – but we feel he hasn't gone far enough."More could have been done to find the extra funds for vital projects and frontline services.
"However, the Liberal Democrat group is willing to work with the Mayor to make his budget more acceptable."
Labour's acting leader Ron Stone has complained that briefings for councillors on the budget have been inadequate.
He said attempts to get the budget detail released earlier were rebuffed with suggestions that it was still being worked on.
He said: "Councillors - who collectively have tens of thousands of votes behind them - are a key part of the democratic process.
"We are increasingly concerned that the mayor's new ways of working are aimed at bypassing any input or critique we may have.
"An effective opposition is recognised as a sign of a healthy democracy."