Big Eye, February 14, 2017

Lorne Green from Snettisham, who is standing for Police and Crime Commissioner.
Lorne Green from Snettisham, who is standing for Police and Crime Commissioner.

I’m beginning to feel like I’m eternally lashed to a giant and unstoppable revolving wheel which has a 365-day cycle that brings you, annually, back to the beginning.

This wheel is called a “budgetary cycle” and the numerous budgets that are linked to this instrument of torture are invariably connected to Government funds and council subsidies.

Each service in our region takes its turn on the wheel to present its case for either justifying another increase in levies and taxes, or tries to explain to an incredulous public why we should be happy to suffer further cuts in services.

The endless round of excuses and public announcements telling us why it’s happening and why we shouldn’t be concerned becomes a little wearing after a time.

And, unless you blot it out of your mind and simply trust that the doctors, firefighters, nurses and refuse collectors will be there when you need them, you could end up losing a lot of sleep over it.

The latest public body to start waving the red flag at us is our Norfolk Constabulary and, in particular, its ever-beaming Commissioner Lorne Greene.

He appears to be letting us down nice and gently, softening the blow of his demand for more money this year by breaking it down into piffling little “eight pence a week” chunks. It hardly merits a special press announcement, does it?

He says it’s been a tough call and, although it doesn’t appear to have sapped his apparent joie de vivre, it has preyed heavily on his mind.

At least he’s hopeful that these numerous eight pences are going to finance some improvement (which would be nice). So let’s assume Lorne has a plan for all these pennies he’s so reluctant to pinch from us.

Where’s he going to spend it and where’s he going to save even more money on a service that has become all but invisible in most of our rural villages?

I know you can see rows of police cars lined up outside city centre cop shops, but when did you last see one in your village?

I used to meet PCSOs regularly at parish meetings, but they evaporated like fairy dust and have never ever returned. No apology, excuses or explanations.

How he’s going to reduce costs and improve on his service with this extra 8p handout is going to take a lot of ingenuity and probably some help from magic statisticians that politicians employ, I suspect.

What I do hope is that it doesn’t end up being sucked up by the managers of the cripplingly costly and much gloated-over retired police pension fund.

It is claimed by various financial watchdogs that around 20 per cent of the nation’s entire annual police budget gets creamed-off into the pension pots of officers, who universally spend their shifts counting down the days and cheerily calculating to the hour when their retirement bonanza kicks in.

If cuts have to be made Lorne, there’s a copper-bottomed problem that urgently requires tackling.