Councillors in Lancashire are to ask the Home Secretary to pay for policing at anti-fracking protests from central government funding.
Lancashire Police has estimated that protests outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool have cost more than £9m Link to data
A motion debated by the county council today noted that this “impacts negatively on the police budget and thereby frontline policing in Lancashire”.
“that the chief executive writes to the Home Secretary to express this concern and requests that police action at this, and other similar protests, are funded by Central Government.”
The motion incorporated an amendment by Green Party councillor, Gina Dowding, which called on the Chief Constable to ensure all police officers attending protests were
“adequately and properly trained to give utmost priority to the health and safety of the public, protestors and police officers themselves at all times.”
Last month, DrillOrDrop reported complaints about a loss of confidence in policing outside the shale gas site, partly because of “aggressive behaviour” by officers.
The motion also called on the chief constable to take steps to minimise disruption caused by protests.
The author of the motion, the Conservative, Edward Nash, said people had complaining about delays caused by protests on the A583 Preston New Road at Little Plumpton.
He claimed many of the protesters came from outside the area and he accused them of having “a blatant disregarded for safety”.
Urging councillors to back his motion, he asked:
“Are you for law and order or are you not?”
Another Conservative, Cllr Tim Ashton said:
“Cuadrilla are carrying out a legally-entitled business. We are not going to stop them doing this.”
He said people were avoiding the A583 and businesses had been affected by blockages and delays. He said one business on the road had closed down.
But he said the protests were political and should be paid for centrally.
“These people are protesting on a political decision and the government should pay for that. We should be asking the home secretary for funding for the extra policing.”
A government contribution to policing of £1.4m in special grant funding to Lancashire was described by Lib Dem councillor, David Whipp as “derisory”.
Cllr Dowding said she regularly attended the protests and argued that there had been no recent significant traffic delays.
Cllr Liz Oades, who lives near the site, said the A583 had been closed more often this year because of flooding, rather than protests. She said:
”The reason there are protests is Cuadrilla. If Cuadrilla weren’t there, there would no need for a police presence.
“Most of the protesters I know are locals. A lot are retired. They have never protesters before. They feel so strongly about what is happening to their area. They have my admiration.”
Protesters were also supported by Cllr Lorraine Beavers, who blamed cuts in Lancashire Police numbers on the government.
Cllr Paul Hayhurst, who represents the area around the Preston New Road site, said there were serious local drug problems but the police could not deal with them because there were not enough officers.
“I feel Cuadrilla should be funding the police. They are causing the problem. They tell us how much money they are going to make from the Fylde.”