I AM campaigning to try and stop Somerset County Council cutting £129,000 from the budget for police community support officers in April 2010.

I have never believed that PCSOs should replace regular police officers. High-level criminal activity needs a high-level police response.

Where PCSOs do have a strong role is working alongside regular officers as part of a community-level team. The extra visibility makes a vital contribution to tackling lower-level crime and making people feel safer.

PCSOs are often seen out on patrol, but they also have the flexibility to undertake a wide-range of tasks that are valued by the public.

For example, they visit schools, they see residents who have concerns about crime, they advise older people on home security, they hold surgeries in community centres, they help staff the police pod outside Taunton Asda and they support youth projects.

They are also an extra resource to help when the police need to be involved but there is no criminal activity. For example, I have seen PCSOs diverting traffic after an accident or helping to find lost children in Taunton town centre who have wandered away from their parents.

I have now secured a debate on this campaign in the House of Commons next Tuesday and I am also pleased that so many Somerset residents have joined my Facebook group to save our PCSOs.

Any council which spends almost £50,000 on a single job advert but wants to cut the budget for community policing has got its priorities wrong.