George Ferguson to reconsider PCSO cuts in Bristol
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson has bowed to pressure and is to reconsider plans to axe 32 of the city's Police Community Support officers.
As reported in The Post Mr Ferguson was planning to axe the PCSOs as part of his drive to make cuts of £35 million from his budget.
But the mayor has agreed to reconsider the move following public pressure and a personal plea from the new police commissioner sue Mountstevens.
The Council pay for 32 PCSOs and another 80 are funded by Avon and Somerset Police.
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Following the decision to reconsider a new cross-party working group chaired by Councillor Gus Hoyt, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and the Environment, will look at the issue again.
The cross-party working group, which was set up last week, is developing proposals to try and retain as many PCSOs in Bristol as possible.
MR Hoyt said: "We have been consulting with the police as part of the review in an effort to find a way forward. There is recognition, of course, of the role PCSOs play in tackling crime and the fear of crime in our communities.
"But at the same time we face tough choices when it comes to making savings in the current climate of increased financial pressures."
He added: "It has been an extremely informative and constructive process and I am confident that we will be able to deliver fresh proposals that will be in the best interests of the public that the Mayor can discuss with Sue Mountstevens."
The working group includes former MP and councillor Doug Naysmith along with Pete Levy and Alastair Watson. The group will make recommendations to the Mayor within the next week in advance of final budget proposals being agreed.
Lib Dem leader Tim Kent had urged Mr Ferguson to consider a compromise – which would see the council funding 20 PCSOs and for the city to seek support from Police Commissioner Sue Mountstevens to fund the other 12 posts.
This would mean the council would need to find an extra £300,000 this year to fund the posts.
The Lib Dems are suggesting a £42,000 saving could be made by reductions in energy use for street lighting, £50,000 could come from a service review within the council's neighbourhoods and communities team and the rest would come from the council's housing revenue account, which uses tenants' rent payments for, among other things, repairs and maintenance.
ndment to the proposed budget and have launched an on-line petition protesting against the suggested cuts to PCSOs.
Mr Kent said: "We're not trying to tie anyone's hands about this. There is room for manoeuvre. I just want to make it clear that we want to save as many PCSO posts as we can, but we do recognise the enormous pressures on George Ferguson's budget."
Mr Kent said: "We in Bristol have been behind the whole PCSO project from the start, backing their introduction and helping to fund them. In hard times, we are urging the police commissioner to help foot the bill."
Councillors will be meeting on February 26 to decide next year's civic budget.