Mayor George Ferguson to look again at plans to cut 32 PCSOs
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson is to take another look at his proposal to axe funding for 32 PCSOs after meeting with Avon and Somerset's police and crime commissioner.
The mayor and Sue Mountstevens met today to talk about their respective budgets and the savings they need to make.
On Tuesday it was revealed that Mr Ferguson intended on saving Bristol City Council £540,000 by taking away funding for 32 PCSOs who are currently funded by the authority.
In a joint statement Mr Ferguson and Ms Mountstevens said: "We met today to talk through our respective budgetary positions.
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"Having both been elected on the same day in mid November, we have each inherited extremely tough financial positions - and a legal duty to set a balanced budget before the end of the financial year, so that Council Tax bills can go out.
"This means closing a financial gap of £35 million for Bristol City Council, and £7 million for Avon and Somerset Police.
"We focused particularly on PCSOs.
"Over recent years, the Council has contributed funding to the Police to top up the number of Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs), currently funding 32, with Police funding a further 80 in the city from their own resources. It is the funding of these 32 that the Mayor has revealed he proposes to withdraw, to contribute a saving of £540,000 next year towards the City Council's £35 million total required.
"These PCSOs have made a significant difference in promoting community safety and reducing the fear of crime, and we join together to pay strong tribute to their work as part of the wider police family.
Crime has dropped in the city consistently over recent years, particularly violent crime, and Bristol is a very safe city to live, work and study in, and to visit.
"We spoke frankly and without pulling punches, but also each listened respectfully and openly to each other today with a genuine spirit of cooperation. As a result, we have agreed that the Mayor will go back and reflect further on the matter, before publishing his final budget plans."
Mr Ferguson added: "I should like to express my unwavering support to Sue Mountstevens.
"She has made a strong case today, which I shall carefully reflect on.
"I am conscious though that Bristol City Council's spending on PCSOs is completely out of kilter with other regional capital cities, with Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Birmingham City Councils not funding any, and Sheffield currently funding just ten. These other cities have their PCSOs paid for by the police, not the local authority.
"Sue is a woman of huge personal integrity, dedication and passion for reducing crime, and is already doing an excellent job as Police and Crime Commissioner.
"I look forward to working closely with her and her new Chief Constable to be appointed after interviews later this week."