A Conservative Party politician has reportedly benefited financially from the cuts to police that Theresa May has presided over. And he happily admits that he’s profiting from the reduction in services.
Buying up our bobbies
Rob Hodkinson is a Tory councillor in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester. And in January, he was revealed as the mystery buyer of Ramsbottom police station. The building was put up for sale in November 2015 as part of a cost-cutting exercise by Greater Manchester Police (GMP). And Hodkinson snapped up the local station in February 2016 for £226,000. But the details of the sale only emerged in January, when Hodkinson sought planning permission to turn the former station into shops and apartments.
I want to remove the eyesore that is the police station and replace it with a building that is keeping with the character of the rest of the buildings in the street. There was a lot of interest at the auction, as the guide price was listed as £50,000, and the bidding on the day was very lively.
However I knew it would sell for much more and was prepared to pay a premium to secure the purchase.
Cut to the bone?
GMP sold Ramsbottom station along with five others to save £100,000 a year in running costs. While Ramsbottom station wasn’t open to the public, it was still used as a base by officers. But after its closure, they were relocated to a room in the local library. At the time, local councillor Ian Bevan said:
The number of police officers patrolling Ramsbottom has reduced in recent years. Whilst we are low-crime town, there are still issues, particularly at night and weekends, and I can envisage that police officers… would rarely be available if a resident turns up at Ramsbottom library.
The cuts made by GMP are endemic of a nationwide issue. Since 2009 in England and Wales, 20,000 police officers have been cut; real terms budgets have been reduced by 18%; total employment in the force reduced by 17.4%; in 2016, the number of officers on sick leave increased by 11.5%; and the number of armed officers has halved [paywall] in the past 15 years. And Tories buying up redundant police stations is not unusual, either.
For example, in 2016 Paddington police station in London was sold by Conservative-led Westminster Council to Berkeley Homes for redevelopment. And the house building company’s chairman is a Tory donor. Since 2010, at least a third of all police stations in England and Wales have, or are due to be, closed.
The revolving door
But Hodkinson’s purchase of Ramsbottom police station and the fate of Paddington are microcosms of a wider problem in government. That of the revolving door between politicians, their decisions (both Tory and New Labour), and profit making. For example, private security company G4S runs Lincolnshire police station and has contracts with the government worth £600m a year. But as Channel 4 News reported, G4S:
has a former government minister, Whitehall advisers and civil servants on its board. These include, former Home Secretary and Defence Secretary John Reid (now Baron Reid of Cardowan), former Met Police Commissioner Lord Condon (who earns £124,600 as a non-Executive Director of G4S), former Prison Governor Tom Wheatley and helpfully for G4S’ energy meter monitoring arm, the former Energy Regulator Claire Spottiswoode is a non-Executive Director (earning £56,800).
The issue of the government’s cuts to the police force has been raised by all opposition parties in the wake of both the Manchester and London terrorist attacks. But May doesn’t appear to think there’s a problem. And it’s of little wonder when politicians from her own party are directly profiting from the sale of our ‘bobbies on the beat’.
– Get out and vote on 8 June. And encourage others to do the same.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– See more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
– Support The Canary if you value the work we do.
Featured image via YouTube
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?