Perhaps the most important job of the Government could be broadly called security. That means protecting safe stability – whether it’s safety from external threats, from anti-social behaviour, from illness and from economic instability. These things are all connected. By putting the country’s finances on a sustainable path the Government can afford to invest more long term in the NHS and the Armed Forces.
Against this background I have pressed as hard as I can for our Police and our Armed Forces to be as well funded as they possibly can be and am pleased with the recent positive news for both with their national budgets protected in the Autumn Statement. The protection of the Police budget is key and I am now campaigning to keep Yeovil Police Station open. The Police have to make responsible financial decisions like anyone else but I am convinced that closing this station does not make sense in the long term. There is so much opportunity to encourage regeneration and growth in Yeovil and we shouldn’t jeopardise this with a negative step. In addition to creating some real logistical difficulties for the Police Officers it will be a cause of concern to local residents who can be affected by anti-social behaviour. Crime statistics alone don’t tell the whole story and people have a right to feel safe in their neighbourhood. Through my advice surgeries and meetings with local Police I know that there are concerns about some areas and about drugs and other antisocial behaviour. Losing the Station would send out completely the wrong message in my view.
I am all for modernising methods of Policing. Just as we have seen with national defence adapting to make more resources available to counter-terrorism measures and cyber-security, so the Police must be given the tools they need to face new challenges. As part of modernising the service I am in favour of working more closely with Dorset Police and the Yeovil Station could be a part of that. Now that funding has been protected there is an opportunity to be creative about ways to make the system better and more responsive, not just cheaper. Local Policing will be under the spotlight anyway with the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May.
Along with everyone in the local area I feel grateful to the Police Officers working tirelessly and effectively and will do what I can to support them. I have been out with concerned residents collecting signatures for a petition to help demonstrate the strength of feeling about Yeovil Police Station. I would like to see a long term commitment made to the future of the Station now. When the decision was announced it looked like extensive cost savings would have to be made. Now this is not the case the Police should at least pause and look again at the situation. We need a safe and secure environment to allow Yeovil to flourish and having a Police Station is essential for that.