Ruffley calls for a referendum on Police restructuring - 'Let the people have their say'

Monday, 15 May, 2006

David Ruffley MP has today called for a referendum across Suffolk to back or reject the Government's controversial plans to abolish Suffolk Constabulary and create a three county super-force covering Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

David Ruffley's call comes as new figures published by the Government reveal that the police levy on Suffolk's council tax bills has increased by 157 percent since 1997.

It is predicted that bills could soar even further to pay for the police force reorganisation, since the costs of new office, management consultants and IT systems will have to be met from existing Home Office budgets which are being frozen from next year, threatening cuts in police grants.

In Norfolk and Cambridgeshire the police levy on council tax bills has gone up by 202 percent and 178 percent respectively since 1997.

In a survey conducted by David Ruffley via his website over 95 percent of the 642 people who took part stated they would rather retain Suffolk constabulary in its current form.

David said:

'We have already seen that the Government's fiddled funding has forced councils to push up council tax bills. Police forces have been the hardest hit, with the police levy on council tax bills in Suffolk having soared by 157 percent since 1997.

'The situation is even worse in the two counties the Government proposes Suffolk is merged with. I fear that the Government's plans to abolish Suffolk Constabulary, coupled with Norfolk and Cambridgeshire's track record for huge increases in their police levy, could push up council tax bills even more or mean cuts in frontline policing.

'Regional forces will cost millions, erode local accountability and further increase the inept interference of Whitehall. These cuts are being forced through without the backing of the public- by a Government that has lost the support of the British people.

'The people of Suffolk do not want this merger- it could lead to taxpayers paying for second rate services as officers are forced to police crime hot spots such as Peterborough. It is yet another ridiculous piece of bureaucratic nonsense from the Civil Servants in the corridors of Whitehall, many of whom are completely out of touch with rural communities such as Suffolk.

'In a survey I conducted via my website over 95 percent of the 642 people who took part stated they would rather retain Suffolk Constabulary in its current form.

'Local people should have their say in a referendum. Given the chance, I believe they would overwhelmingly reject these cuts, just as John Prescott's regional assemblies were thrown out in the 2004 North East referendum.'