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Newspapers’ fight to stop £26m police cuts ‘far from over’

Five sister newspapers’ fight to save the region they serve from millions of pounds of policing cuts is “far from over”, despite the Government’s decision to delay the changes.

As previously reported on HTFP, CN Group titles The Cumberland News, News & Star, North West Evening Mail, Workington Times & Star and The Whitehaven News joined forced to launch their Fight The Cuts campaign, after fears £26m of cuts could “decimate” Cumbria’s police service.

Last month the newspapers handed over a 12,000 name petition to Downing Street, just two weeks after the campaign was launched.

Now Policing Minister Mike Penning has revealed the cuts, set to take place in 2016/17, will be delayed due to a “statistical error” in the formula used to determine police forces’ funding from the Government.

North West Evening Mail editor James Higgins in Westminster with the CN Group's petition

North West Evening Mail editor James Higgins in Westminster with the CN Group’s petition

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Penning said: “We recognise this has caused a great deal of concern to police forces around the country. I and the government regret this mistake and I apologise to the House.”

But Evening Mail editor James Higgins, who was among a CN Group delegation to hand over the petition to Number 10, warned the war was “far from over”.

He said: “By combining the efforts of our local titles in Cumbria, we were able to collect a huge number of signatures in a short period of time.

“Downing Street was left in no doubt that there was considerable disquiet among the people of the county at the proposed police cuts.

“While we would not be so bold as to suggest our campaign was the only reason for an about turn by Mike Penning, we believe it made a difference.

“We gave a voice to the residents of this county – our readers – by taking our call to Whitehall.

“We did what all good local newspapers should do – and fought against injustice.

“The battle may be won – but the war is far from over and we will continue to lobby on behalf of the county for a fairer funding formula.”