Great Dunmow Town Council debating whether to pay £34k for a PCSO for the town

PUBLISHED: 10:18 13 November 2014 | UPDATED: 10:18 13 November 2014

Archant

Great Dunmow's police presence could be beefed up - but you would have to foot the bill.

The town council has been approached by Superintendent Steve Ditchburn, of Essex Police, to see if it would be willing to pay the £34,000 cost to have a dedicated PCSO on the beat.

It is an idea that has divided opinion among councillors, with one saying it is not the responsibilty of residents to fund an “adequate” police force.

Great Dunmow town councillor, Ron Clover, told the Broadcast: “I think it is quite a cheek that anybody has suggested we should pay. We already pay a considerable amount though our Council Tax, in fact £148 per household, this would be double taxation.

“I am whole-heartedly in favour of having PCSOs on the beat, we should have two on the streets. But central government should fund a police force fit for purpose.”

Superintendent Ditchburn was due to meet with councillors yesterday (Wednesday) to discuss the proposal and it will be debated at the full council meeting this evening (Thursday) at the Dourdan Pavilion.

The cost of a PCSO for 2015/16 has not been calculated yet but for 2014/15 it was £34,300. It is understood that money has been set aside by the town council if the idea is given the go-ahead.

Cllr David Beedle, who is in favour of the scheme, said: “Since the last PCSO became a full-time police officer there has been no-one on the streets. It is a little bit of peace of mind to know that somebody is around. That is what people want, they want to see a police presence and they are not going to get this from the police. They have made that quite clear.”

Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council used to part-fund a PCSO but the money was withdrawn when the other PCSO, wholly funded by the police, became a full-time police officer and was not replaced.

Parish clerk Ruth Clifford said it was money well spent, adding: “It went really well. People really liked seeing the PCSO walk around the village. It feels like we have lost that sense of security.”

Uttlesford District Council is proposing to train two more PCSOs. Over the past two years the council has match funded, with the police, four PCSOs at the cost of £60,000 a year. The police withdrew from the scheme in March but the council is looking to continue it.

• What do you think? Should Great Dunmow Town Council fund a PCSO? E-mail emma.hardwick@archant.co.uk

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