The general election countdown has kicked off in Lincoln, and Home Secretary Theresa May visited the city to launch the Conservative Party’s campaign to retain the seat.
Theresa May, who has been Home Secretary since May 2010, was greeted by grassroots party members and Karl McCartney, who is hoping to be re-elected as the city’s MP.
On her visit, the Home Secretary was asked for clarification on whether Lincolnshire Police would receive additional money during the next Parliament.
She refused to commit to earmarking more funds, but said that the force “will be benefiting” from some of its partnership bids to the Police Innovation Fund.
Earlier this year, the force put together an application for a Special Grant Fund which, if accepted, would have been made available from April 2015.
The bid came in the light of comments made by Chief Constable Neil Rhodes who said that the current funding arrangements would make the force “unsustainable”, and frontline services would be in jeopardy by 2018.
The Home Secretary said: “We had to make changes in police budgets, the Home Office budget and other public sector funding as a result of the fact that the last Labour government left us the largest deficit in peacetime history.
“Obviously Lincolnshire has made a number of changes over the years but crucially what we have seen over the last five years is crime falling by 20% in the county through the hard work of police officers and staff.”
At the start of this month, Policing Minister Mike Penning sent a Home Office task force to the county to assess how Lincolnshire Police operates and listen to the views of officers on how to address the funding shortfall.
The Home Secretary added: “I’m pleased to say that Lincolnshire Police have been part of a number of bids to the innovation fund, not as the prime bidder but as part of partnership bids and will be benefiting from the success of some of those bids.
“The budgets have been set for this current year (2015-16). Budgets haven’t been set for years beyond that – this will have to be decided in the Comprehensive Spending Review which any government will have to do after the election.
“Future decisions on budgets will be for the government coming in after the election but what I’m clear about is that we’ve seen that police forces have been able to make savings and still see a fall in crime.”
Other issues raised were the importance of young people voting in Lincoln and the significance of the seat on a national level.
Karl McCartney said: “Lincoln is a marginal seat but I’m pretty sure that the people of this city know the good work and hard work that I have put in as their MP, and hopefully they’ll come out and vote for me so I can continue that work for another five years.
“Quite a large proportion of the electorate here are students and I know that a substantial percentage are going to be voting Conservative because they realise that we have no limit on aspiration and they can see the tremendous opportunities available to young people in Lincoln.
“I’m very confident that people in Lincoln and across the country know that only by voting Conservative are they going to ensure a thriving economy for the next five years.
“The Labour Party is the alternative and I don’t think people want that option. Why would you give the keys back to the drunk that crashed the car?”