David Cameron is facing fresh ‘hypocrisy’ charges after it emerged he had lobbied against police cuts in his local area.
Just days after a leaked letter set out his criticism of Oxfordshire County Council service cuts, the Prime Minister was revealed to have argued also against the closure of police stations in his Witney constituency.
Mr Cameron privately lobbied to stop the closure of police stations in his own backyard as Thames Valley Police force tried to find nearly £60m of savings, the BBC’s Newsnight reported.
Downing Street vigorously rejected the 'hypocrisy' charge and said the PM had acted in his capacity as a local MP because he believed Thames Valley Police could save money without hitting front-line services.
Earlier this week it emerged that Mr Cameron had made similar calls for cuts to be redirected away from the front line, writing to Oxfordshire council leader Ian Hudspeth saying he was "disappointed" at planned cuts to elderly day centres, libraries, children’s centres and museums.
Despite being praised by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for being an efficient and well-run force, Thames Valley still closed seven police stations, and reduced opening hours at others.
One police source told Newsnight the force had done the best it could but could not afford to keep open stations that "hardly anyone ever uses”.
Shadow cabinet minister Jon Ashworth said the prime minister was "completely unaware" of the effects of budget cuts in local communities.
"I think it's jaw-droppingly hypocritical from the prime minister because the reason these services are being cut in his constituency is because he is cutting them," Mr Ashworth said.
"He is the First Lord of the Treasury, he is the man who is signing off George Osborne's cuts plan, so I'm surprised that the Prime Minister is so out of touch with what the impact of these cuts would mean that he is now lobbying organisations in his own constituency against the very cuts he is implementing.”
Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, was equally scathing.
"It's a bit disingenuous to have some politicians say they want to protect their own local police station but actually they know full well that it will be at the cost of other police stations around the country or indeed in the force," he said.
Downing Street denied that Mr Cameron was being hypocritical, and a spokesman said Mr Cameron had spoken up as a local MP during conversations with local police chiefs.
"He wants to see local authorities and the police making sensible savings through back office efficiencies and joint working," he said.
After the Prime Minister offered to a personal meeting with his No.10 Policy chief to discuss how to ease the council cuts, HuffPost UK revealed that 116 Labour council leaders are writing to demand similar one-on-one Downing Street meetings.