Sleaford MP lobbies policing minister for fairer funding for county’s force

The Lincolnshire deputation to policing minster Mick Hurd, included Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson. EMN-180205-175922001
The Lincolnshire deputation to policing minster Mick Hurd, included Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Dr Caroline Johnson. EMN-180205-175922001

Sleaford’s MP Dr Caroline Johnson was part of a deputation of leading figures from the county who went to lobby the policing minister on Tuesday.

Dr Caroline Johnson met with Policing Minister Nick Hurd in an effort to lobby for fairer funding for Lincolnshire Police.

She was joined by fellow Lincolnshire MPs John Hayes, Edward Leigh and Matt Warman, as well as Chief Constable Bill Skelly and Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones.

She commented on the visit on social media saying: “Lincolnshire’s rurality poses specific challenges not adequately covered by the current funding formula.”

The delegation of senior Lincolnshire politicians also highlighted how the county’s force is leading the way in harnessing new technology.

The meeting was convened by South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes.

Mr Hurd was told how the county is now amongst the most progressive with technology developments – with the introduction of new vehicles and drones, front line officers issued with cutting edge handheld computers and a new multi-million pound command and control system in the pipeline.

Marc Jones explained the funding challenges facing the force in the coming years.

Although a council tax rise of, on average, 25p a week and a £5.3 million use of reserves has allowed Mr Jones to protect policing budgets for the current year the future is still uncertain.

Mr Jones warned that, with reserves now depleted, the force faces a funding gap which could hit £6.5m by 2021 if current funding levels do not change.

“It was a very helpful meeting and the minister listened with interest to the developments we are making to create the most effective and efficient force possible,” he said.

“The support of our local MPs was instrumental in both getting the meeting and making the case for Lincolnshire. We are still one of the lowest funded forces in the country and I will continue the drive to get our county a funding deal that will allow us to maintain service levels.

“The minister heard our arguments and we will have to wait to see the outcome. I am hopeful the meeting is a positive step towards resolving our problem.”

Dr Johnson also questioned Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt yesterday (Wednesday) in the House of Commons over the revelation that hundreds of women between the ages of 70 and 79 may have not received their breast screening appointment reminders due to a computer glitch that occurred some years ago. A helpline has been set up for those concerned.

A paediatric consultant herself, she thanked him for the work he is doing to ensure women who are affected are supported and treated promptly, but she asked: “What is he (Mr Hunt) doing to ensure that people who are due for cervical and other NHS screening programmes are being properly called, and can he tell women who are affected — and, no doubt, very worried today — what they should do now? Whom should they call, should they be waiting for a letter, and how soon can they expect a scan if they wish to have one?”

Mr Hunt replied: “According to the advice that I have received so far, there is no read-across to other screening programmes, but obviously the independent review panel will look into that as it seeks to examine all aspects of the issue.

“We have made the commitment today that we will invite for scans all those who either should be scanned or should consider whether they wish to have a scan, and will offer them a date before the end of October, although we hope that in the vast majority of cases it will be much sooner than that.”

If you believe you are affected by the news, patients are asked not to call their GP. Instead call the breast screening helpline number 0800 169 2692. They can go the NHS Choices website for more information and should receive a letter by the end of May.