Published: July 1, 2013
£15m police cutbacks 'will not affect replacement of Burnham officers'

Avon and Somerset Police have reassured residents in Burnham-On-Sea that the town's top two policemen will be replaced following their retirements last month despite major financial cutbacks.

More than 200 staff at Avon and Somerset Police are at risk of losing their jobs as a result of government public spending cuts as the force has to find a further £15m saving over the next two years from its annual budget of £277m.

This raised concerns that Burnham's Inspector Roger Tolley and Sgt Ian Kennett - who both retired from their roles in June - might not be replaced, hitting police numbers in Burnham and Highbrridge.

However, police spokesman Wayne Baker told "I can reassure residents that it is our full intention to replace them both. We are currently in the process of identifying suitable replacements."

It is still possible in the future, though, that overall staff numbers at Burnham will be reduced as part of the overall funding cuts.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens says she will carry out a "full discussion" with residents about any possible increases to council tax to protect frontline officers.

"There is no question that cuts of this scale will be painful to the organisation and will be felt by residents across the region," she said.

"Finding further significant savings of nearly £15m over the next two years will mean fundamental changes to policing and tough decisions about what we do in the future."

"It will also mean fewer police officers and staff, with over 200 more policing posts now at risk to meet the required savings. Clearly, there are huge challenges ahead, however the priority remains to keep residents safe and feeling safe and that will be my focus."

The latest cutbacks were announced in the Chancellor's Spending Review and come on top of 20% cuts already underway.

Kevin Phillips, chair of the Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said the cuts would affect service delivery. "Clearly any more cuts are going to affect police officer numbers, they are bound to, and it's bound to affect service delivery. The difficulty is that we have already had three to four years of this comprehensive spending review already. More cuts are bound to affect the morale of police officers on the front line."


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