We will fight you tooth and nail if you try and merge Gloucestershire Police with another force, moving decision making out of the county.
That’s the firm message being delivered by the county council’s ruling Conservatives who have hit back at a Labour Party announcement they believe could lead to Gloucestershire Police facing the “axe”.
Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Chris Leslie MP, said in a speech that there are “options for change” when it comes to the structure of police forces and that includes “locally-negotiated mergers and regionalisation”.
The Tories believe that Gloucestershire’s position as one of the country’s smaller forces would place it in the firing line for a potential merger if Labour’s suggestion ever came to fruition.
They believe such a move would mean police in Gloucestershire being managed by bosses in “Bristol or even Exeter”.
The Conservatives have tabled a motion due to be put before the March meeting of Gloucestershire County Council outlining their opposition to any such merger.
Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “The Labour Party are making the same old, wasteful, big government mistakes once again.
“Gloucestershire people don’t want their police force run from Bristol or Exeter – we want it run from Gloucestershire.
“Gloucestershire Conservatives will fight any Labour plan to axe Gloucestershire Police tooth and nail.”
However, Barry Kirby, Gloucestershire Labour group spokesman for fire, planning and infrastructure, said it would be foolish to rule out such a move for the police without fully investigating the “pros and cons”.
“In these economic times it is prudent to look at all options and this is similar to what we have said on the fire service in that it is worth looking at all options, including regionalisation for the police force,” he said.
“Even if it is just to discount the idea, that it won’t work; you cannot immediately rule something out without investigating the pros and cons.
“It is an option that is worth exploring but only in the wider view of what is the best future for the police force.”