A Tory MP has been given a sharp lesson in the impact of Government cuts after discovering he would miss out on the winter shooting season after forgetting to renew his firearms licence.
Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgewater and Somerset West, was left fuming when he found out it would take 16 weeks to complete the necessary paperwork.
He was quoted by the Somerset County Gazette as saying: “I’ve got the form and I’ve filled it in but you cannot simply hand these things in at your local police station any more: they have to be posted off. When I rang the police to see how long it would take to get the new permit I was absolutely appalled.”
“Sixteen weeks to complete one piece of paperwork looks like utter incompetence. I told the officer I thought it was an unrealistically long time and he just said the police had lots of other things to do. I could almost hear the shrug down the phone.”
Liddell-Grainger, apparently forgetting about £131m in Tory cuts to police funding for 2016/17 and a reduction in staffing levels of around 19.5% since 2010, then decides to mention his position as an MP.
He added: “When I mentioned the fact that I was a MP it was suggested that if the Government gave the force some more money they might be able to get these things done more quickly.”
Liddell-Grainger has voted strongly in favour of cutting public services and in 2014 said police had “little choice” about closing stations when faced with budget cuts.
The row echoes a case late last year in which then-PM David Cameron 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.
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.
A report by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners concluded:
- Varying between forces, since 2010 staff posts have reduced by 15,500 (19.5%);
- By 2020 police staffing levels could reduce to approximately 100,000 – the lowest level since the mid-1970s, and a further reduction of 17% since CSR10;
- The funding shortfall could be approximately £400 million in the first year and increasing up to as high as £1.2 billion by 2020;
- With fewer people to call on the successful civilianisation of some posts may be scaled back or reversed. Some forces have already identified that officers would have to perform back office functions; and
- While further savings in running costs, procurement and ICT can be delivered over the next five years a fundamental reconfiguration of roles will be needed.
Liddell-Grainger made headlines in 2014 when he branded then-Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith a “coward” and a “git”and threatened to “stick his head down the loo” during the flooding crisis.