Up until this morning I would have had no problem congratulating Ealing council leader and Labour group leader Julian Bell on his good, even very good, personal performance over the course of the previous 48 hours and his response to the riots that took everyone by surprise on Monday evening. Cllr Bell has led Ealing well. Well done.
Unfortunately, he did rather blow it this morning with a string of partisan tweets that attempt to shift the blame for events onto the government and away from the rioters themselves. As Bell has started pointing the finger allow me please to take my turn.
Last year the council spent Â£1 million jointly funding a team of 43 police officers (1 inspector, 2 sergeants and 40 PCSOs) and another Â£70K funding two officers to work on our housing estates. A total spend of Â£1.07 million to fund 45 police officers.
In the current financial year Labour under Julian Bell has decided to spend just Â£660K to fund 19 police officers (1 inspector, 9 PCs and 9 PCSOs). So the Labour council has cut its revenue spending on policing by 38% and reduced the headcount by 58%. This massive cut is way out of proportion to the 12.5% cut the council is having to deal with and ignores what the council already knows about residents’ concerns.
If you check out the residents survey, here, you will see that residentsâ€™ single biggest concern is â€œCrime: including anti-social behaviour and terrorismâ€. This is cited by 20% as a personal concern, top of the list with the next biggest concern being cited by 15%.
Labour are quite aware of this concern and even put crime in number one spot on their list of five key pledges in their manifesto:
There is no doubt that crime and public safety are going to be even more of a worry to people for a long time to come. Bell needs to take responsibility for his own decisions which have ignored public concerns.