Police cuts plan warning at Lynn protest march
Scores of demonstrators took part in the Britain Needs a Pay Rise march from the Walks to the Tuesday Market Place on Saturday.
The protest had been planned ahead of the announcement earlier this month that all Norfolk’s 150 PCSOs are to be made redundant, while numerous public enquiry desks are shut.
But union officials that was part of a wider “attack” on public services by the Conservative administration.
Caren Reeves, secretary of the Norfolk Police Unison branch, said police staff had been under constant review for a decade and the PCSOs perfomed a vital role both serving and reflecting the diversity of their communities.
She said: “This is a short-term fix to achieve a government-imposed budget and there will be a long-term cost to our communities as we go forward feeling unprotected.
“As always under austerity, it’s the vulnerable who suffer the most.”
Both West Norfolk’s MPs, Sir Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss, have already declared their support for the measures, which they maintain are necessary to better prepare the force to deal with the evolving crime threat.
Meanwhile, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, Lorne Green, has insisted that he will hold the county’s chief constable, Simon Bailey, to account on how the proposals, which are due to come into force next spring, deliver for the public.
But around 2,000 people have now signed a petition demanding sufficient funding from the Home Office to reverse the cuts, a call it has so far rejected.
Ms Reeves repeated her plea for people who oppose the plan to make their voices heard to their MPs, Mr Green and Mr Bailey.
And she accused the government of ideologically “starving” public sector workers of the wages they need to meet the cost of living.
She said: “We’re working for a fraction of the pay that we deserve.”
Yesterday, Sir Henry defended his government’s record, pointing to the current record levels of employment, the increased personal allowance before workers pay income tax
He said public sector workers were receiving pay increases while many in the private sector were not, and talks are taking place ahead of the Budget on the possibility of lifting the NHS pay cap.
Sir Henry added: “What I keep reminding Unison is that we are still running a budget deficit and at the end of the year that goes onto the national debt.
“The only way to get significant pay increases is to get the economy back into balance.”
But North West Norfolk Labour secretary Jo Rust told marchers the fact the event was taking place at all was an indictment of the Tories’ policies.
She said: “We can’t go on like this. We have to show people that there is another way and that way is decent pay for all of us.”