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Council leader's anger as PCC denies they met.

Byline: JAMES CAIN Local democracy reporter james.cain@reachplc.com @JIMMYMCAIN

A NEW council leader has hit back at suggestions she did not meet the police and crime commissioner to discuss policing in East Cleveland.

In February, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reported Cllr Mary Lanigan saying she had met the Labour Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger to discuss the lack of police officers in East Cleveland.

But after the independent councillor was announced as the next leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, Mr Coppinger's office issued a statement saying they had no record of any such meeting taking place.

This led Cllr Lanigan to hit back, stating that the pair had indeed met, on one occasion arranged by the office of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke - a meeting the Tory MP's office was able to confirm.

It was during February's meeting of Redcar and Cleveland Council, that Cllr Lanigan attacked Mr Coppinger's record over policing levels in East Cleveland. "When I read through the budget papers I was absolutely appalled by the police precept," she said.

"I've been to see Barry Coppinger and I said to him 'are we going to get any services' and he said 'no.'.

"Bearing in mind in East Cleveland we have no police whatsoever, and this is coming up at more than 10.5% increase."

But on Tuesday, a PCC spokesman said their office had "no record of Cllr Lanigan ever coming to meet with the commissioner as she is quoted as claiming in the article".

"The PCC and chief constable will be meeting all newly elected council leaders, and over the coming months all members," the spokesman added.

"How dare he? I've met Barry on several occasions - this is disgraceful," said Cllr Lanigan in response. "We did have a formal meeting. I met him with the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Simon Clarke, in Guisborough.

"He is well aware of my views on this."

Addressing Cllr Lanigan's claims, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Cop-pinger said: "Deployment of police officers is a matter for the chief constable but it is clearly untrue to state, as Cllr Lanigan has, that there are 'no police whatsoever' in East Cleveland.

"I share the frustration and anger of Cllr Lanigan with regard to the number of officers available to the chief constable and would urge her to join my ongoing campaign for fairer funding for Cleveland Police.

"There are not enough police in East Cleveland or, indeed, across the whole of the force area. This is due to government funding cuts which have resulted in the loss of over 500 officers and 50 PCSOs.

"I held a series of precept consultation events across the force area, including East Cleveland, where I explained that because of further government cuts to funding a precept rise was necessary in order for the force to deliver the following: |Increase resources in the force control room to provide a timely response to calls for service; |Increase investment in crime investigation and safeguarding vulnerable victims, particularly in relation to domestic abuse; |Deliver their core priority to respond and protect; |Maintaining a commitment to neighbourhood problem solving with protected resources for the most challenging communities and a named PCSO contact for every council ward; |Maintain an investment in wellbeingto increase officer and staff availability."

He said: "As part of this engagement a survey was held and 68% of those responding confirmed they would be willing to pay this precept.

"Had this precept rise not been agreed there is every likelihood that the number of officers would have had to be reduced."

But Cllr Lanigan refused to back down: "If he's saying there are police officers in East Cleveland then where are they?" she said.

"When they reshuffled, they put police officers back on to response - there are none on the beat in East Cleveland. There are - like I said - no officers whatsoever in East Cleveland.

"All we've got is PCSOs, and I'm not denigrating the work they do, but they are not police officers.

"He can keep blaming the money from central government - you have to manage the money you've got."

The PCC's office has been contacted to respond to Cllr Lanigan's comments.

cuts of consultation force of in the force timel"How dare he? I've met Barry on several occasions - this is disgraceful. Cllr Mary Lanigan, council leader

CAPTION(S):

Barry Coppinger, police and crime commissioner KATIE LUNN

Cllr Mary Lanigan said she met PCC Barry Coppinger to discuss the lack of police officers

Cllr Mary Lanigan, council leader
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:May 18, 2019
Words:763
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