Community Services Committee Meeting 19.2.18

By Chris Slough

It was with a heavy heart that Labour councillors voted to stop funding Operation Hana. This is the scheme whereby town councils give extra funding to Bedfordshire police, so they can deploy extra police officers in their town. Bedfordshire police are grossly underfunded partly because of the government’s austerity program and partly because the formula used to calculate government spending on Bedfordshire police is unfair. However, over the years Operation Hana has failed to deliver the kind of policing residents have paid extra for. They want more foot patrols in Bedford Square and other hotspots, but they do not get it. Also, people in Houghton Regis pay more to take part in this scheme than residents in Leighton Buzzard, a far more prosperous town. Dunstable pay nothing into this scheme. Despite our arguments, Lib Dems and Community Independent Alliance (CIA) voted to continue giving this money.

We were able to save residents some money however, by rejecting the CIA plan to buy a new Chain of Office for the Deputy Mayor. We suggested it was repaired instead and we saved the money. The Chair of the committee agreed with us and it was passed.

All councillors joined together to support our local charities and voluntary workers by making small grants to the Singing Cafe and SNOOSC, and we all approved to a continuation of Groundworks services for young people. In fact, of 15 items on the agenda, Labour councillors only disagreed with Lib Dems and CIA on two items, where we insisted on the principle of value for money for our residents.