DESPITE the opposition of thousands of concerned local residents, Somerset County Council seems to be determined to push ahead with a £129,000 cut to the community police budget in April 2010.

I am a strong supporter of visible community-level policing. It makes a huge difference when it comes to tackling the crime and anti-social behaviour that blights the daily lives of many local people.

Neighbourhood Policing Teams pick up valuable intelligence from the communities they serve which can be used to catch the most serious criminals and their presence on the beat is also reassuring for residents who are anxious about crime.

I have been impressed by the efforts of the local police to reach into the communities that they serve. Last month Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader, came to see the fantastic boxing club that the police have set up at Taunton Fire Station.

All over Taunton Deane there are other police projects and activities that are designed to increase community engagement.

I see community police officers visiting schools, advising residents on home security, holding outreach sessions and attending parish council meetings. Of course more can always be done, but we should support the progress that has been made.

So it is almost beyond belief that Somerset County Council is cutting over a quarter of its community police budget. Avon and Somerset Police Authority, which is not party-political, has expressed its concern about the proposed £129,000 budget cut.

In a recession, money is always tight, but cutting frontline policing while increasing luxury spending at County Hall must be the wrong priority.

It undermines the hard work that is being done to reassure and protect the public in Taunton Deane.

I hope Somerset County Council leaders will be big enough to admit their error and halt their £129,000 police budget cut.