VILLAGERS have offered to pay £60,000 a year to keep their beat officer.

As previously reported in The Gazette, PC Andy Reid, beat police officer for Upton Grey and The Candovers, is due to be relocated as part of police cuts.

He has covered the beat for 10 years, and more than 500 people signed a petition against the proposed changes, which would see PC Reid covering a wider area as part of a larger team based in Tadley, supported by police community support officers (PCSOs).

Residents have now submitted a proposal to Hampshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) offering to pay £60,000 to keep him.

The submission to the PCC, seen by The Gazette, offers "A gift of £60,000 per annum for a three year period commencing on 1st May 2015."

It adds: "This donation funds a police constable as a dedicated beat officer for the beat area known as Upton Grey and the Candovers which includes the area covered by the Upton Grey and the Candovers Ward and the villages of Dummer, Mapledurwell, Newham and Up Natley."

The donation also includes the sponsorship of a standard marked 4x4 police response vehicle, for the use of the dedicated beat officer when on duty.

It adds: "It is understood by the parties that there may be exceptional policing need when this vehicle may need to be used by other police officers when the dedicated beat officer is on duty. This vehicle will be available for use by other police officers when the dedicated beat officer is on rest days or on annual leave."

It makes it clear that the agreement will not "interfere with the chief constable's operational independence in respect of the deployment and duties of this dedicated beat officer, who is and will remain a member of Hampshire Constabulary."

PC Reid has continued as the dedicated beat officer past the initial deadline of April 1 whilst the detail of the agreement is discussed.

A discussion will be had with Hampshire Constabulary about the best method for payment, which may include setting up a charitable trust.

Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner, said he met with representatives from Upton Grey and Candovers. 

He added: "We discussed the concerns of the community around arrangements for local policing in their area, against the backdrop of challenging decisions needing to be made as a result of £80m of centrally imposed government cuts to my policing budget. 

"As a result of the meeting, various options are being considered,  but we have no final decision at the moment. I am keen that, by working with residents I'm able to deliver an outcome that is understood by the community as a whole. 

"What I am clear about, however, is the need for equity in the provision and funding of policing services - whether urban or rural - and for each community to have its own neighbourhood policing team with named Police officers and PCSOs."