On Monday 31st January, the Greater Manchester Police, Fire and Crime Panel voted unanimously to approve an increase in Council Tax to fund more police.
Given that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s (GMCA) own consultation found only 23% of respondents to be in favour of the tax increase, the decision shows just how little regard GMCA have for the public of Greater Manchester, and particularly those who are subject to the harms of policing.
The Council Tax increase will further exacerbate a cost-of-living crisis which is having a devastating impact across the city region, particularly for working class communities. It also comes amidst a raft of evidence of institutional racism in the force, at a time when GMP has been placed in special measures for systemic failings.
In making his case for the increase, Mayor Burnham made a range of claims without evidence, only addressing the consultation when challenged by a member of the public. In so doing, he showed clearly just how undemocratic his decision-making is.
As the live stream of the Panel meeting was stopped, members of the public were removed from the supposedly-public meeting, and others – including a member of the Greater Manchester Race Equality Panel – were denied entry. This led members of the public to ask, ‘is this what democracy looks like?’
It is clear that those in power in Greater Manchester feel able to make decisions, far removed from members of the public, in comfortable boardrooms without public scrutiny or challenge. However, as Kill the Bill, Black Lives Matter, and other mobilisations of the last few years have shown, affected communities are increasingly demanding non-police responses centred on care. As part of a wider coalition of resistance, NPMP will continue to advocate for such alternatives.