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Subsidies for gun owners must end

Writing at Liberal Democrat Voice, Caroline Pidgeon sets out the facts showing how the freeze on gun licence fees effectively means that, at time of huge funding pressure, the police continue to subsidise gun owners:

Since 2001 the cost of a five-year gun licence across the UK has been frozen at £50, which in practice equates to just £10 per year. The cost of renewing a five-year licence gun licence is even lower, at just £40. By way of comparison an annual fishing rod licence costs £27, or £72 to obtain an annual licence to fish for salmon or sea trout.

To get some understanding of the significant expenditure by the police in issuing gun licences I recently asked a Mayoral Question to find out about the situation just in London. The reply from the Mayor of London stated that the Metropolitan Police Service’s total expenditure on carrying out checks and issuing gun licences had been in excess of £20 million since 2008. At the same the Mayor of London has admitted that the total income raised by these fees has raised a mere £1.5 million since 2008.

Subsidising gun licence costs is indefensible

Responding to figures showing that the Metropolitan Police spent £3 million more in processing gun licence applications than they received in fees, Caroline Pidgeon commented:

"When there are so many pressures on police resources it is indefensible that the Met should be subsidising gun owners by millions of pounds every year.

"The full cost of carrying out vital checks before the issuing of gun licences should be paid for entirely by gun owners themselves.

Islington police failed to answer basic questions on Arsenal hospitality

As three police officers face a misconduct inquiry over the handling of an investigation involving an Arsenal footballer, bringing to light eight years of free season tickets given by the club to the Metropolitan Police, Caroline Pidgeon said:

"Before accepting any hospitality every police officer should ask fundamental questions as to whether acceptance is good for policing and how it would be perceived by the public.

Met should be open about costs of vital surveillance work

As a "mystery" Cessna plane flying over London sparked speculation on its potential use for surveillance, Caroline Pidgeon commented:

Of course the Met needs to defend some secrecy over its surveillance work, however you can't put planes up over London without people noticing. It would be best if the Met simply admitted that vital surveillance work takes place and at the same time was open about the costs of such operations.

HMIC Report shows why Met should not waste money on water cannon, chauffeurs or subsidising gun owners

Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and policing spokesperson, commenting on today’s report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) on how the Metropolitan Police Service is dealing with budget pressures, said:

“The overall judgment given to the Met Police Service’s record so far is encouraging, however we cannot hide away from the fact that severe pressures will face the Met, starting from 2016.

Lessons must be learnt following collapse of Bombardier signalling contract

Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and transport spokesperson commenting on the highly critical KPMG report on the collapse of the Bombardier signalling contract which has just been published, said:

“It is staggering that TfL simply accepted at face value significant claims made by Bombardier before they awarded such a major contract. Due to a lack of research and basic enquiries about their actual record TfL signed up with a company that had no track record in London and little chance of being able to deliver the new signalling on some of the oldest and most complex Tube lines in the world.

Estuary airport cost figures are a potential death blow to the Mayor’s plans

Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on the latest Airports Commission’s inner Thames estuary studies, revealing significantly higher estimated costs for train and road links to the proposed airport than previously suggested by the Mayor, said:

"These latest reports are a potential death blow to the Mayor's dream of creating a massive airport located in the Thames estuary.

Real action is now needed on looked after children

The Mayor of London has accepted that real action is needed to better safeguard children who go missing from the care of local authorities in response to questions put to him by Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group.

Earlier this year Caroline Pidgeon published a report Looked After Children: Missing From Care, based on freedom of information requests made to every London Borough. Her report revealed that across London 931 looked after children went missing from the care of London Boroughs in 2012 and 2013 for at least 24 hours.

TfL must ensure delayed passengers get the compensation they are entitled to

Caroline Pidgeon AM, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson, commenting on Transport for London’s plans to make it easier for customers to get a refund for a delayed tube, DLR or London Overground journey said:

“For far too long very few passengers have actually received the compensation they are entitled to. Millions of passengers have simply missed out because the process has been far too complicated and long winded.

Mayor’s obsession with changing the culture of British policing beggars belief

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group and deputy chair of the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee, commenting on the decision by the Mayor of London to proceed with purchasing water cannon, said:

"There is no evidence at all to defend the provision of water cannon in London. After three evidence hearings at City Hall the case against the use of water cannon was compelling.


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