10:53AM, Friday 17 September 2021
A funding pot which aims to reduce crime and improve community safety in Slough is set to be slashed by more than £100,000.
Each year the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner distributes its Community Safety Fund to local authorities in the region to help tackle issues including drug use and neighbourhood crimes.
Slough Borough Council received £332,499 for 2021/22 but this will be cut to £197,926 by 2024/45, a drop of 40 per cent.
Matthew Barber, the recently elected Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, faced questions over the planned cuts at a Police and Crime Panel meeting on Friday.
Member of the public Andrew Hill asked why Reading and Slough, two of the authorities with the highest crime rates in the region, are due to face the most significant cuts.
Mr Barber said a fair-funding formula had been drawn-up which allocated cash on the basis of each authority’s population size, the number of recorded crimes and non-crime incidents such as anti-social behaviour.
The population of each region was considered to be the most important factor, he added.
In recent years the Community Safety Fund has been used in Slough to pay for projects such as the ‘choices programme’ which aimed to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation in Slough schools.
Slough councillor Balvinder Bains, who sits on the panel, said: “I fully sympathise that you need to make certain cuts but Slough is not easy to police, the same as Reading.
“We have different issues because we are a multi-cultural town compared to other boroughs and you must keep that in mind and if we need more funding you need to look at that again.”
Mr Barber, who stood for the Conservatives in May’s PCC election, denied the decision to slash the funding of two Labour-controlled authorities was a political decision and said both councils had benefited disproportionately from previous funding allocations.
He added: “One of the biggest winners from the re-allocation which is based on population, crime and non-crime is Milton Keynes, one of the other significant winners is Oxfordshire County Council.
“Those are not Conservative authorities so the suggestion somehow this is a political move is entirely untrue. “
Question marks remain over whether the Home Office will provide the PCC with community safety funding over the next three years but Mr Barber told panel members he was ‘hopeful’ this would be the case.
New images have been released showing how Slough High Street could look if the redevelopment of the Queensmere Shopping Centre goes ahead.