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THE BOYS IN BLACK; Police cuts aim to find PS900,000 ...but they've got PS40m in the bank But chief says using reserves to plug shortfall just a short term fix.

Byline: ALEX HICKEY

THE police force should spend some of its PS40 million worth of reserves to avoid making almost PS1m worth of cuts to frontline services.

North Wales Police Authority member Chris Drew made that plea after the Force's final accounts revealed that reserves had grown by PS7m for the last financial year (2011/12).

Mr Drew, a retired accountant, called on North Wales Police to use the reserve to plug a PS900,000 hole it has in its budget - after the Authority refused to sanction a 4% rise in the precept in April.

It opted for a 2.8% rise instead which Chief Constable Mark Polin warned at the time would hit officer numbers . At a meeting in St Asaph yesterday, Mr Drew questioned the Force's director of finance Mike Parkin, why the reserve appeared to have risen from PS33m.

He said: "The reserves are now PS40m, that's PS7m that I didn't know about when we set the budget.

"My concern is we are hearing that we have to make almost a PS1m cuts to the frontline but why not use that funding from the reserve. The cuts do not have to be made. It is not a necessity.

The police's director of finance Mike Parkin disputed that the reserve had risen by that amount but said it had built up an additional PS2m in the last quarter of the financial year.

But in any case most of the PS40m had been earmarked, for projects already approved by the authority such as the PS18m scheme to rebuild Wrexham Police station "All in all there is a plan to utilise these reserves," he added.

In a blunt exchange, Chief Constable Mark Polin hit back at Mr Drew saying: "We fully accept your right to pose questions on the reserve. But what do you think we ought to cut from the capital programme - Wrexham (police station)."

The need to make PS900,000 was "recurrent" so by dipping into the reserve "you would only delay the inevitable", Mr Polin added.

He also warned that the Force needed to retain the reserve as it could face further cuts from central government as early as next year.

But Mr Drew remained defiant: "I accept there is no cost-free option but I'd rather we duck and bob and weave and delay cuts where we can."

That would allow the police force to "absorb the hurt as best as it can," he said.

alex.hickey@dailypost.co.uk CCoopp sshhoopp ooppeenniinngg ttiimmeess ssllaasshheedd POLICE station opening times will be slashed in a bid to save PS100,000.

The North Wales Police Authority approved controversial plans which will mean only three sites - Wrexham, Rhyl and Bangor - will open to the public seven days a week.

Front counter services will be cut at Holyhead and Llangefni, while Dolgellau will move from a daily to a weekly surgery.

Colwyn Bay will be open just two days a week and share its counter staff with Llandudno . The move will cut front counter staffing levels from 27 to 21.

Chief inspector of local policing services Nigel Harrison, told the Authority meeting at St Asaph yesterday the changes amounted to a guaranteed minimum service PPrrooppoosseedd cchhaannggeess Current opening hours and the proposed opening times: WESTERN Bangor: Currently 9.30am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm weekends Proposal: 8.30am-7pm seven days a week Caernarfon: Currently ad hoc cover due to retirements Proposal: Mon/Wed/Frid/Sat, 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm Holyhead: Currently 8am-6pm daily Proposal: Tuesday and Thursday, 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm Llangefni and Dolgellau: Currently 9am-5pm, Mon to Fri Proposal: Weekly surgeries with neighbourhood police teams.

The planned police hub in Llangefni will include a front counter ? Fortnightly surgeries planned at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Barmouth, Tywyn, Nefyn, Bala and Pwllheli where there is no current counter service CENTRAL Rhyl: Currently 9am-7pm daily Proposal: 8.30am-7pm daily Colwyn Bay: Currently 9am-7pm daily Proposal: Mon and Thur, 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm Llandudno: Currently 9am-7pm daily Proposal: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat, 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm ? Fortnightly surgeries planned at Llangollen, Corwen, Ruthin, Rhuddlan, Abergele, Denbigh and Prestatyn EASTERN Wrexham: Currently 8am-10pm daily Proposal: 8.30am-7pm daily Mold: Currently 8am-10pm daily (recently reduced to 9am-7pm due to retirement) Proposal: Mon-Sat 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm Buckley/Flint/Deeside: Currently 9am-5pm Mon-Fri Proposed: Fortnightly surgeries with neighbourhood police teams Holywell:Currently open Thursday Proposals: None ? Fortnightly surgeries planned at Rhos and Saltney

CAPTION(S):

Police Chief Mark Polin was involved in heated exchange over the size of the Force's cash reserves
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 27, 2012
Words:746
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