Money should be spent on providing more frontline police and not on electing a new commissioner Labour leader Ed Miliband has told the people of Preston – as he urged them to vote Red.
The politician was in the city, along with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, to officially support county councillor Clive Grunshaw in his bid to become Lancashire’s first police and crime commissioner.
Mr Miliband admitted he was “seriously worried” about a poor turnout for the election on November 15, and added that he was “very concerned” about the hundreds of police posts being slashed as austerity cuts bite.
He said: “We would not have chosen to spend £100 million of public money on these elections.
“Our choice would have been to use that money saving the jobs of thousands of frontline police officers. The Conservative and Liberal Democrats had different priorities.”
The Labour leader – and Mrs Cooper – have been very vocal in their opposition to the new post but said they were determined to make the most of a bad job.
He added: “Because policing is so important to our communities and our country, our candidates are doing everything they can to make this system work.”
Mrs Cooper slammed the Government for holding the elections in winter and said: “There has been very little information from the Government. People don’t know about it (the election) and people are really concerned about the cuts. Lancashire will lose more than 500 police officers, which is madness,”
Mr Miliband added: “Labour would not have chosen to hold the elections in November when the evenings are dark and cold. Many people are rightly concerned this will affect turnout.”
The pair visited the Catherine Becket Community Centre in Deepdale, where volunteers and the local community have worked together to reduce crime and get more people involved in the area.
The area’s Community, Residents and Businesses group, otherwise known as CRaB, chaired by former TV engineer Robin Maudsley, now works with centre and other organisations and has been hailed as a “role model” of how communities can work together.
The politicians heard from community members about how the transformation came about and visited to local shopkeepers to hear how the installation of CCTV in the Meadow Street area had improved the quality of life.
Among them was Margaret Clegg, whose father Hector Holmes opened Holmes Florist 65 years ago.
In a speech to officially launch Mr Grunshaw at Preston
Mr Miliband said: “Our commissioners will attend Beat Meetings, visit Neighbourhood Watch Groups and ensure that people which feel ignored or disillusioned get a hearing too.
“I am genuinely concerned that if millions of people turn their back on these elections they will feel the new police commissioners don’t represent them.
“Labour Police and Crime Commissioners will be committed to reaching out to all people in their areas – people who voted for candidates from other parties and people who voted for none – because I believe policing is one of the key public services which bind our communities, society and nation together.”