A TOP Home Office Minister yesterday gave his support to a campaign by Somerset Liberal Democrats to oppose possible plans to cut police numbers in the county.

Senior Home Office Minister, David Hanson MP, gave his support during a debate in the House of Commons called by the LibDems about possible cuts at the Conservative-led Somerset County Council.

The move was called for by Taunton MP Jeremy Browne, Yeovil MP David Laws and Somerton and Frome MP David Heath.

The Minister said that he would be taking “a keen interest” in the issue, and that he would be “disappointed if the county council was to reduce its contribution” to police funding.

The Minister also warned that police redundancies caused by a cut in Somerset County Council funding could do extra harm to the police, because of the costs of paying out extra money on redundancies.

The Minister said that the Police Community Support Officers which the Conservatives are possibly planning to cut are playing a key role in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

And that he “shared the concern that Somerset County Council is considering a reduction of some £129,000 in its funding of PCSOs.”

Yeovil MP Mr Laws highlighted in the debate that although Somerset Conservatives are claiming that no decision on PCSO funding has yet been made, official papers circulated to the council's Cabinet this week now talk of the police cuts going ahead, as if the decision had already been taken.

Mr Laws said: “I am very pleased that the Minister sent such a clear signal that he wants the Conservatives on Somerset County Council to think again about their foolish plans to cut police numbers.

“In the House of Commons debate the Minister made very clear his concerns about Conservative plans and their potential impact on local crime and anti-social behaviour.

“The Conservatives are pretending that they are only considering these cuts, but the official papers circulating within the County Council make clear that the Tories already consider this to be a “done deal”.

“I have had a lot of representations from local residents who are very angry about the Conservative plan to cut police funding – and who say that if the Conservatives wanted to do this then the plan should have been in the manifesto which they stood on in Somerset just five months ago.

“I will continue to campaign with other Somerset LibDem MPs against these daft plans.

"The Conservatives on Somerset County Council must dump these ill thought out plans into the County Hall waste paper bin before real damage is done.”