Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes, has welcomed the Chancellor’s surprise announcement that the national police budget will be maintained at its present level in this parliament.anne barnes bw

Mrs Barnes, who watched the Chancellor George Osborne deliver his Comprehensive Spending Review while attending a policing conference in Manchester, said: ‘We had been preparing ourselves for devastating cuts of between 25% and 40%. This would have had a huge impact on Kent Police’s ability to protect and serve our local communities. Now is not the right time to be cutting local police budgets.

‘Last week I sent a letter to the Home Secretary asking that cuts to police budgets – if there were to be any – should be delayed for at least a year while we all take a step back and think. Today, I was delighted to hear that the Government has listened to all of us who have been campaigning so hard for so long against cuts to policing. There has been a real groundswell of opinion of late and the fact that the Chancellor has listened and reacted so positively is due to local people making their feelings known, for which I thank them.

‘However, like all public announcements, the devil is in the detail, so we are urgently looking at the small print. For now, I am pleased that common sense seems to have prevailed and the wishes of the people taken into account. Also, I sincerely thank the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister who I know have fought long and hard in our behalf.’

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement also revealed a £250million investment in infrastructure projects to alleviate the problems caused by Operation Stack.

Mrs Barnes said: ‘This summer we – the people of Kent – endured months of misery and delays because of problems of the road network out of our control. Then the people of Kent had the added and totally unfair burden of having to pay for policing the closures on the M20.

‘I feared that the whole problem would get forgotten about, so I’m pleased that the Government appears committed to finding a long-term alternative solution to Stack. I look forward to a speedy resolution, well before next year’s misery.’