The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed the Conservative Party Conference to Birmingham and the economic benefits the event will bring, but thinks the people of the West Midlands should not have to foot a £430,000 bill for planning the security of the event, given the huge cuts West Midlands Police has faced.
The city has hosted the party three times in the last five years, meaning that these are costs not felt by most other areas. This year 13 officers and staff were part of the planning team for the conference full time, with further staff and officers working part time on the operation. The team began work several months ago. Since 2014 West Midlands Police has lost out on nearly £1.5 million in planning costs.
The policing of the conference will cost around £2 million which is paid for by the government, but there is still a £430,000 bill for the force’s public purse in planning costs.
The Police and Crime Commissioner will be writing to the Home Secretary to formally raise this issue in the coming days.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said:
“I welcome political parties bringing their conferences to the West Midlands as they provide an important boost to the economy. I want to see more conferences not fewer. And the safety of people attending conferences and the region will always be of the highest priority.
“Policing across the region will continue as normal despite extra resources being allocated to the conference.
“The policing taking place during the conference will be paid for but one crucial element will not.
“These events don’t simply happen, ensuring their security requires detailed expert planning over a long period. The team from West Midlands Police began work for this year’s conference several months ago and is costing £430,000. That’s £430,000 the Home Office will not pay for.
“The force is due to host the conference again in 2020, by which point unpaid planning costs may hit £2 million.
“West Midlands Police has suffered the second largest budget cuts of any force in the country – 24% since 2010. This is another kick in the teeth for West Midlands Police.”
The conference will take place from 30 September to October 3 at the ICC.
Earlier this month, the independent National Audit Office’s report into police funding highlighted that West Midlands Police (24%) has been hit more than twice as hard by the cuts than forces such as leafy, low crime Surrey (11%).
Since 2014 the Labour Party’s Annual Conferences have taken place in Brighton, Manchester and Liverpool and the Conservative Party’s have alternated between Birmingham and Manchester, meaning the costs are falling on a small number of mainly urban forces.
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