THE WEST Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner says the Chancellor’s failure to invest in policing is a ‘missed opportunity’.
It comes as Phillip Hammond failed to guarantee extra funding for local forces.
David Jamieson said: “I am concerned that the Chancellor failed to announce extra money for local police forces. This comes as a huge blow and will hit forces, who are facing rising levels of violent crime, hard.
“The Chancellor has also failed to take action on the crippling police pension changes that is costing local forces £417 million. In the West Midlands this may cost over 450 police officer posts.
“Whilst the commitment to support counter terrorism policing is welcome, there have also been no guarantees that this money will not be sliced out of existing police budgets.
“The government has hinted it may force Police and Crime Commissioners to increase local council tax if they want their forces to stay afloat. We require extra government funding rather than constantly squeezing local council tax payers.
“This really feels like a missed opportunity to support police forces and prioritise public safety.
“To halt the alarming rise in crime and fall in officer numbers police forces like West Midlands Police needed extra investment, once again after warm words it has failed to materialise.”
Elsewhere the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce have highlighted “one glaring omission” in a business-positive speech from the Chancellor.
Great Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) said that while there were plenty of positive announcements for businesses in the Budget, there was no mention of Greater Birmingham or the West Midlands.
Henrietta Brealey, policy and strategic relations director at GBCC, said: “While devolved nations, the Northern Powerhouse and beyond received a number of nods, the news for the West Midlands was buried in the Budget Red Book.
“It is clear from the announcements that there is still work to be done on promoting further devolution to English regions which still lag behind devolved nations and London on funding.”
Raj Kandola, senior policy adviser at the GBCC, said: “Buried in the small print was £20million in additional funding to help local authorities to meet their air quality obligations. Given that Birmingham alone is looking for £35million to implement a Clean Air Zone by 2020, serious questions will be asked around the prospect of local cities meeting their legislative requirements in relation to air pollution levels.”
He said that on infrastructure the Chamber welcomed the commitment to improving transport networks across the Strategic Road Network, Major Road Network and for local roads in order to fix potholes, renew bridges and tunnels.
He added: “Nevertheless, we would have liked to see the Chancellor reiterate his concrete support for HS2 and in particular, verbalise the strategic importance that Phase two will play in rebalancing the economy and boosting prosperity across the region.”
However the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) welcomed the Budget claiming it was a £100 million vote of confidence in the region’s on-going economic revival.
The West Midlands is to get nearly £72 million for new transport schemes and £20 million to help cement its role as a global leader in the development of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) and electric vehicle (EV) technology.
The Mayor, Andy Street, said: “The extra funding for transport infrastructure is especially important and will help us manage the increased congestion and disruption that comes with a growing economy and the construction of major projects like HS2. It will also help us tackle poor air quality.
“So there is some positive news in this Budget for our region and we now look forward to working with Government to secure further funding in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.”
A further £20million will help fund the UK Mobility Data Institute, a joint venture between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
The Institute will collect and analyse data generated by new mobility technologies and projects such as the testing autonomous vehicles and infrastructure on roads in Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham.