POLICE have been blasted for taking part in a borough Remembrance Day march – after refusing to patrol it.
Coun Don Hodgkinson hit out after seeing Police Community Support staff and a uniformed officer marching alongside ex-servicemen to the war memorial in Ashton at the weekend even though GMP themselves had declined to make road patrol officers available for traffic safety marshalling because of Government cuts.
The outspoken Ashton independent claims that the traffic marshals which the council had to pay for as a stop-gap measure, caused traffic delays that wouldn’t have been seen with a on-duty police presence.
Town hall chiefs had to pay £1,170 for the operation.
Angry Coun Hodgkinson said: “I really think it is disgraceful of the police to be able to appear at the Remembrance Day Parades posing as though they are assisting with the parade.
“They refuse to supervise road closures, private firms have to paid exorbitant fees to close roads, and yet the PCSOs can appear and march with us.
“The public think the police are there to help with the parade when nothing could be further from the truth, they are being fooled.
“The private firm in Ashton made a terrible mess of the road closures in Ashton and Bryn, causing unnecessary traffic delays and creating confusion and from what I can see they just put up barriers blocking off roads - and far too early - because I didn’t see any traffic marshalls at all.
“When you take the whole borough it must have cost WMBC a small fortune for private firms to man this event.”
He is now advising Wigan people to take up the question of policing priorities and whether officers should staff Remembrance Day officially, with the candidates for the new Police and Crime Commissioners, considering that Ashton will face the same problem next year for church walking days next year before the question of Remembrance Sunday arises again.
Coun Hodgkinson said: “Last year it cost the Ashton councillors £3,000 from the Brighter Borough to hire a private firm to close the roads for the walking day, but I doubt if they will pay that money again in 2013.
“The council tax payers already pay a police precept in their bill so they are infact paying for the service twice.”
Traffic Manager for the council Kevin Hargreaves insisted that the traffic management around the Ashton Remembrance Parade “went ahead as planned” at a cost to the authority of £1,170.50 for outside contractors.
He said: “All road closures were in place at the correct time and there were no reported incidents or issues.
“The council contracted the traffic management of the event to a private firm. This involved the safe closure of several major roads around the town centre and the council is happy to support such important community events as Remembrance Sunday.”
Greater Manchester Police said that they were unable to comment on Coun Hodgkinson’s concerns because of the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections now scheduled for Thursday evening.
A spokesman said: “As we are now in a period of purdah between now and the PCC elections we would not be able to comment on this.”