My Column in the Morley Observer & Advertiser

I trust in my Morley postbag. It’s generally a good reflection of local concerns. From the NHS to tax credits, when big policy changes are proposed there is often a surge in letters (and increasingly emails) as people get in touch to have their say.

And quite right too. As an MP I’m here to represent the views of people in Morley and Outwood. I want to know what people think.

But sometimes the level of people’s anger and concern takes me by surprise. Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve had some really worrying emails that tell the tale of how policy decisions from London – on taxes, charities and policing – are affecting people here in Morley.

Take policing. A serving local police officer emailed to tell me that cuts to policing are going way beyond saving money. Another wrote that the Government’s current tack on policing is going to put the public at risk. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t take their concerns seriously.

So as well as responding to them, I’m passing their concerns directly to the Home Secretary. The Government needs to know what serving officers think about the changes they are making.

As regular readers will know, I am extremely concerned about the pace and depth of cuts to police budgets. Of course, savings have to be made. But there is only so much that can be cut from the backroom before the front line gets affected too.

Already cuts will mean 759 fewer police officers in West Yorkshire. Fortunately so far our local PSCOs have been protected – thanks to commitments from both Chief Constable, Sir Norman Bettison and Leeds City Council.

But we need to stop cuts to our police from going too far, too fast. Just last week we had the news from South Yorkshire that their PCSOs are to be rebranded ‘local beat officers’ and will take on new responsibilities.

Round here our PCSOs do a great job. I regularly see them out and about in the town centre or patrolling local streets. But the great value they bring to Morley and the surrounding communities is from working with warranted police officers, not replacing them.

When the police, PCSOs and local communities work together there is a huge benefit for us all. Crime comes down.  Which is why it is so worrying to see the successful partnership between police and PSCOs put under threat in South Yorkshire. We need to fight to ensure we keep our strong local crime fighting partnership in West Yorkshire – and particularly here in Morley.

As always, if anyone has any concerns on anything from policing to the NHS or education, please get in touch at www.edballs.com or call 0113 253 9466.

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Posted April 18th, 2012 by Ed