MP Simon Danczuk has welcomed a pledge to boost policing in Rochdale town centre but warned that more “unfair and indefensible” police cuts are to come.
Labour leader of Rochdale Council, Richard Farnell, has secured commitments from Greater Manchester Police to increase the visibility of officers and PCSOs on the town’s high street.
Both Cllr Fanrell and Mr Danczuk had previously raised concerns about the levels of policing and response times in the town centre.
Chief Superintendent Chris Sykes has now said that steps are being taken to increase the amount of time officers spend on the beat and to ensure PCSOs make regular visits to known trouble spots.
Cllr Farnell said: “Rochdale Borough has lost 150 officers from the beat in recent years and that has put an intolerable strain on the police.
“The perceived lack policing in the town centre has been a cause of concern for the council and we’ve been working hard with the police to tackle issues like shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and public drunkenness.”
But while he welcomed the move to increase the police presence, Mr Danczuk has warned that more challenges may lie ahead.
Last month, leaked documents from the Home Office showed planned changes to the police funding formula could see the Greater Manchester Police budget slashed by 23%.
Meanwhile, police forces in rural areas of the South of England look set to receive increases of up to 75%.
Mr Danczuk said: “I welcome the news that more is going to be done to boost the police presence in the town centre.
“It is yet another example of how we can address the issues important to local people by working together with our Labour run council.
“But sadly this Government seems intent on destroying neighbourhood policing here in Rochdale.
“Police Minister Mike Penning needs to explain why GMP, which is already struggling under the strain of massive cuts, will take another hit while forces in the sleepy villages of the Tory shires are set to enjoy a pay rise.
“Such obvious bias in favour of the Conservative heartlands is unfair and indefensible.”
Government funding cuts have already forced Greater Manchester Police to axe 1,500 officers in the last five years.
A recent survey of 580 shoppers by Manchester Business School showed that 29% of those asked gave Rochdale Town Centre the lowest rating for safety.
Mr Danczuk raised the issue in Parliament last month after meeting with concerned high street traders. He has called for a House of Commons debate over the proposed changes to the police funding formula.