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Gloucestershire Business News

MP questions Police and Crime Commissioner's no-bid decision

Gloucester MP Richard Graham has repeated his call for details on why Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl did not bid for a share of a £25million government fund.

But Deputy PCC Chris Brierley said low crime rates and continuing reductions in burglary made any bid for a share of the Safe Streets Fund was unlikely to be successful.

Mr Brierley was replying to tweets from Mr Graham asking why Gloucestershire had not bid for the fund, which saw 35 forces share payouts of up to just over £1.5million.

The Deputy PCC wrote: "Based on the criteria, we believed it was unlikely a Gloucestershire bid would be successful."

He said considerations in the decision included the county's low crime rate, the timescale with funding to be used by the end of March 2021 and concerns about the ability to access homes during the pandemic to provide additional security.

He added: "It was agreed that the research carried out in relation to this offer will be taken to Safer Gloucestershire for a wider partnership discussion about the viability of longer-term, multi-agency interventions working alongside the community."

But Mr Graham believes low crime rate was no reason to be among the seven forces in England and Wales who did not bid for a share of the funding.

Writing in a newsletter, he said: "If the PCC case is that the county has good overall crime statistics and so no chance of bidding success, how come police forces from areas safer than Gloucestershire (like Devon and Cornwall, the safest in the country) did succeed?

"The guidelines spell out that the process was 'designed to maximise PCCs' opportunity to be successful for at least one bid' - every bid was expected to succeed."

He continued: "The bidding document spelt out that the fund is not the county as a while but for local hotspots.

"Which means the PCC has to argue that we have no pockets of crime in any ward in the whole of Gloucestershire worthy of a bid. That cannot be right."

Mr Graham pointed to areas in Gloucester wards such as Barton and Tredworth, Westgate and Kingsholm as places which could benefit from additional funding to improve safety.

He asked Mr Surl to outline what analysis had been done, how many areas in the county had met the criteria and what communication he has had with Safer Gloucestershire.

He also asked if Mr Surl regretted not lodging a bid.

The Safer Streets Fund offered grants for projects to improve security in areas affected by crimes such as burglary, vehicle theft and robbery.

Measures funded include locked gates around alleyways, increased street lighting and the installation of CCTV, together with training community wardens and local crime prevention advice.

In all, £22.4million was awarded with the remaining money spent on supporting successful bids.

Mr Surl faces re-election in May after this year's was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In what could be seen as the opening salvo of the election campaign, Conservative candidate Chris Nelson said: "Why have we missed out when most police forces received generous allocations?"

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