COUNCILLORS have clashed over the best way to tackle the increase in crime causing misery for people across the district.

Conservatives called for people across Bradford to stand up against crime, and take more social responsibility for the "wrong" things they see happening in their communities.

But Labour members hit back at the idea, saying the reason for the rise in crime was the "damaging" cuts implemented by the Tory government.

The fiery exchange happened during a meeting of Bradford Council, when the leader of the Conservative party raised the issue of community safety.

Councillor John Pennington had put forward a motion arguing that people needed to take more responsibility for what was happening in their area, putting forward a motion regarding "violence in the community."

Referring to a number of recent crimes, he called for "zero tolerance" zones in Bradford, for more people to speak out against crime and call for more government support for the police 101 service and Crimestoppers.

At the meeting Cllr Pennington said: "This is a motion to highlight the fact that we all have a personal responsibility for the environment around us.

"The solution always seems to be 'ring the police.' Well the boys in blue are stretched to the extreme and should not be held accountable for all our community woes. We must all take a stand against bad behaviour."

He said he had recently spoken to a mother who was "at her wit's end" due to drug dealing in the street. He that when she confronted them she was met with threats.

He also pointed out a crime wave in Shipley over Christmas that saw numerous businesses targeted.

He said: "Right people must unite against crime and violence.

"I propose that the Council, working with police, considers the introduction of zero tolerance zones, not just for drugs but for anything anti-social."

However, his comments led to a furious response from some Labour Councillors. Councillor Richard Dunbar (Lab, Thornton and Allerton) said: "We have a very different take on the causes of this crime.

"There was a 13 per cent increase in the number of crimes recorded in the Bradford district in 2018.

"Your government is behind the damaging cuts to local services that have ravaged local communities.

"Think what your government will be remembered for in the history books - austerity, cuts to public services, the rise in food banks.

"It is a nightmare list of policies that is against the idea of giving people the option to rise up.

"Crime doesn't exist in a vacuum - cuts have consequences. West Yorkshire Police have had to face government cuts of £140 million, and 2,000 jobs in total have been lost."

Councillor Ralph Berry (Lab, Wibsey) referred to the crime wave in Shipley that Cllr Pennington referenced, angrily adding: "On that day in question in Shipley there was one PCSO on duty with no access to a car. That is because the cuts by your government that have caused the police to be at their lowest levels."

Councillor Simon Cooke (Cons, Bingley Rural), said people could not keep "subcontracting personal responsibility" to the state. He added: "This is about us taking some responsibility as a community and individuals for what is happening in the places we live and work. We can't keep passing things off to some anonymous public servant."

Cllr Pennington said: This debate has transformed into a huge PR job for the Labour group - 'Haven't we got an evil government?'"

A number of Labour supporters shouted "Yes."

The Labour group submitted an amended motion, noting cuts to the police service, and voting to write to the Home Office to call for increased funding for the police. It also called for people to stand up to crime in their communities.

After the meeting West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns Williamson said: "Since 2010, there has been sustained Government cuts to public services and policing in West Yorkshire, which has resulted in around 2000 less police jobs. This would clearly have a significant impact on any organisation and means we must prioritise our resources where we can deliver the greatest impact for our businesses and wider communities.

“This scenario is compounded by the fact that many of our partner agencies, including Bradford Council, are also suffering at the hands of long term austerity and in many cases are no longer able to offer the crucial services, which fundamentally help to reduce crime and contribute to community safety.

“In the absence of the necessary support and resources from central Government, increasing demand is simply being passed back onto policing to handle and absorb through the 101 and 999 emergency numbers. I have provided additional funding locally for Crimestoppers as we recognise that passing on vital information anonymously, is a good source of intelligence which is then acted upon in tackling criminality.

“This is why I have continually fought for a better deal when it comes to police finances, highlighting the potential cliff edge we face around impending unfunded police pension costs and the disparities that still exist nationally within the unresolved police funding formula allocation, leaving us out of pocket each year.

“I am currently considering the public response to my budget survey which closed earlier this week, but the reality is that without raising more on local policing precept, there will be little or no investment into front-line policing which is badly needed to help keep our communities safe and feel safe.”