Government foots the bill for Lancashire Police operation at Chorley G7 Speakers’ Summit

Lancashire Police have been reimbursed the cost of their share of the security operation for the G7 Speakers’ Summit in Chorley last year.

Friday, 18th March 2022, 1:25 pm
Updated Friday, 18th March 2022, 1:47 pm

Some of the world’s most senior parliamentarians visited the borough for the three-day event in September, which was hosted by Chorley MP and House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

The presence of high-profile figures – such as US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi – saw officers out in significant numbers at various locations, including the main conference venue at Astley Hall.

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Police guarding one of the entrances to Astley Hall prior to the G7 Speakers' Summit - additional duties that generated a big overtime bill, which the government has now agreed to cover

In the days running up to the summit, fingertip police searches took place in the grounds of the local landmark, along with a trawl of the nearby lake.

Operation Norvik, as it was known, was part of a huge effort to ensure the security of the gathering, which also involved a team from the Metropolitan Police in that force’s capacity as the national lead for counter-terrorism and diplomatic protection.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) can reveal that Lancashire’s share of the policing costs amounted to £450,000 – and the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden has now announced that the force will not be a penny out of pocket after the government agreed to foot the bill.

“I’m really pleased that following conversations and correspondence I’ve had with the Home Office and others – and with the support of the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle – I have secured circa £450,000 to cover the costs of policing the G7 event that took place in Chorley last year.

The lake close to Astley Hall was searched ahead of the G7 Speakers' Summit

“I am delighted that the government has agreed to cover these additional costs – mainly overtime and other costs relating to additional shifts and bringing in of resources – so that they can be reinvested back into local policing here in Lancashire.

“The Constabulary and myself were fully engaged in the planning for the summit and we ensured that the event was safe, successful and showcased Lancashire at its best.

“I’d like to thank all the police officers and staff who went above and beyond, working many extra hours, to ensure we showed the world how great Lancashire really is,” Mr. Snowden said.

Chorley hosted the prestigious event as part of the UK’s presidency of the G7 and it was widely regarded as having given the borough a place on the world stage, the like of which it had never before experienced.

Police combed every inch of Astley Hall's grounds in preparation for the arrival of some of the world's most senior parliamentarians last September

Sir Lindsay said at the time that the opportunity to showcase Chorley and Lancashire as a whole – as well as the county’s traditional delicacies – was “ a real moment for me” and one which he hoped would bring long-lasting benefits to the area.

Speaking on Friday, he told the LDRS that his hope had come to pass.

"The G7 was a fantastic event for Chorley and Lancashire and put us on the map - and, following it, visitors to the area have increased significantly. That has provided a real legacy to the summit, which justified the expense that was involved.

"I also know that the police welcomed the opportunity to oversee such a high-profile, high-security event - not only to ensure that it went smoothly, but to facilitate further such events in Lancashire, like the Conservative Party's spring conference in Blackpool this weekend," Sir Lindsay added.

At the G7 Speakers' Summit in Astley Hall in September 2021 - Roberto Fico, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies; Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Chorley MP and Speaker of the House of Commons; Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives; and Richard Ferrand, President of the French National Assembly (image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said in the wake of the event – at which parliamentarians including Richard Ferrand, President of the French National Assembly, and the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico, discussed the importance of open democracies and the security of legislatures – that it had generated money-can’t-buy levels of international exposure for the borough.

Lifelong Chorley Market trader John Brennan said he had been visited by customers who had never even heard of the town prior to it staging the gathering.

The LDRS understands that a full evaluation of the impact of the summit on tourism in the borough will be undertaken over the next year, once the now renovated Astley Hall reopens to the public and comparable visitor numbers can be properly assessed.

Reflecting on the fact that Lancashire Police would be reimbursed for their role, Andrew Snowden added: “I am committed to working closely and positively with the government to make sure Lancashire’s voice is heard and get as much investment into policing and the criminal justice system in the county as I can, to lead the fight against crime and deliver on the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.”