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Raising tax doesn’t address real issue

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, writing in last week’s Diss Express, asked for the views of the public on a proposed £15 per year increase in the policing precept of our council tax.

Citing demands on the much-overstretched Suffolk constabulary, the current crisis and longer-term impacts of Covid, Mr Passmore made a statement of the bleedingly obvious – that policing in our county needs greater resources.

He also cited that we have the fourth worst funded police force per capita in the country, and talked of his disappointment that the Government has chosen not to look at a fairer funding formula for Suffolk.

Give us your view on the week's hottest topics (44259025)
Give us your view on the week's hottest topics (44259025)

But here’s the rub, by placing ever greater burden on the precept (which was increased also last year), an assumption becomes built into government policy and Home Office allocations that funding of the police be calculated on the basis that the PCC will increase the precept.

The underlying problem of a poor funding settlement for Suffolk’s constabulary goes unaddressed.

In his eight years as PCC, he has failed to change this situation, despite being elected from the Conservative Party.

We also have five Conservative MPs representing the county. What are they doing to improve central funding for our police?

I can fully understand the PCC wanting to use his powers to increase local funding, but, in doing so, is he not being the Home Office’s ‘useful idiot’?

Perhaps it’s time we stopped electing Conservatives to these positions, and returned a PCC who can provide a more independent voice for the policing needs of Suffolk’s communities.

James Sandbach

Liberal Democrat candidate for Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner

The true cost of Brexit is emerging

Brexit will only be good for us was the recent message by your columnist Steve Britt (Diss Express, January 8).

Whatever side you sit on, we all want the best for Britain and that can only happen if we face reality and deal with it.

I have the advantage of writing some weeks after the UK finally left the EU and am perhaps able to see more clearly what just some of the immediately apparent downsides are. There will be some that may be short-lived but most will be permanent.

The Government may have taken back control but the people have lost power. Since Christmas:

- The UK government has promised repeatedly to ‘match or exceed EU environmental regulations’. The Government opted not to apply, from January 1, a new EU rule banning the export of unsorted plastic waste to developing countries. The UK instead chose to keep a loophole allowing exports. The UK is one of the worst culprits globally, second only to the US in total exports of plastic waste.

- “No border in the Irish sea”. A group of supermarket bosses operating in Northern Ireland branded the new customs regulations ‘unworkable’, and blamed them for depleted shelves in shops.

- Brexit bureaucracy has caused fish prices to crash as much as 80 per cent because of delays in exports of shell fish, in particular. Scottish fishermen are now landing catches in Denmark. Someone, probably the fisheries minister, did not understand that most of the fish in British waters is exported and most of the fish we eat is imported.

- Direct employment is suffering, especially in the entertainment industry. Musicians and creative artists have decried the UK Government’s choice to reject the offer of visa-free tours by performers in the EU.

- Meanwhile, in a sign that manufacturers are beginning to feel the Brexit damage, Ford raised the prices of two new models by £1,700 after they became subject to tariffs under the Brexit deal’s ‘rules of origin’.

- Ineos has decided to move the production of its new electric vehicle to the border of France and Germany, having previously promised to build it in south Wales.

- Many manufacturing companies, especially those selling products under £100, face pulling out of the EU market as the cost of deliveries, customs and courier fees for collecting VAT make it uneconomic to send many parcels to the EU.

- It is estimated that 2020 saw a reduction of more than one million jobs held by non-UK born citizens. Racists will no doubt cheer but the rest of us will rue the day. Healthcare services are suffering from staff shortages, which is nothing new, but it is getting worse. The Government answer seems to be to get rid of the Working Time Directive and tell NHS and care workers they should work longer hours (interview of Cornish Conservative MP on BBC News) and presumably give up the lengthy breaks they now have no time to take. The Financial Times reported last month that ministers want to reduce minimum levels of holiday pay as well.

- And now the Government has abolished the Parliamentary Select Committee on Brexit because ‘Brexit is done’. There are dozens of new working groups and regular reviews of EU and UK civil servants to take place for at least a decade and only this government, the competence of which many commentators say varies from poor to abysmal, to make sure they get it right. Its track record indicates it may have some difficulty.

It is not only in the USA that chickens are coming home to roost. The Government must be prepared to reopen negotiations to return our borders to the single market that would require the UK to accept regulations which the Government claims it does not want to change.

So the chaos on our borders is all because the Government wants to have the right to do something it claims it does not want to do.

It is now obvious that this right is getting very expensive and disruptive to business and workers.

Roger Spiller


Read more: All the latest news from Diss

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