RIVAL political candidates vying for election have gone head to head on the best way to keep communities safe.

Labour and Tory campaigners standing in May’s local elections want to assuage taxpayers’ fears over crime in Redbridge by fighting decisions to cut police at local and national level.

The Conservatives pledged to cut the council’s PR budget and bring back Redbridge Police Team scrapped in 2017.

Labour candidates are calling on people to sign a petition fighting cuts to the Met passed down by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and want to restore police numbers.

Cllr Paul Canal, leader of Redbridge Conservatives, criticised the Labour administration for ditching the Redbridge Community Police Team set up by the Tories in 2011.

The team was made up of 14 members and was tasked with keeping parks and communities safe. Half of the officers were paid for by the council while the other seven were provided by The Met.

He says: “Labour’s decision to axe the dedicated Redbridge Police Team in 2017 was a costly mistake.

“Overnight we lost 25,000 policing hours a year. We also lost over £450,000 of Metropolitan Police subsidy. Our local police have been on the back foot ever since.

“With those police officers, we could have deterred countless crimes and doubtless arrested scores of criminals.

“We asked over 1,000 residents do you want money spent on police or PR. Their answer was clear - police before PR.”

Meanwhile, Labour candidates Paul Donovan, Jo Blackman and Daniel Morgan-Thomas highlighted the cuts dealt to police by the Conservative government.

They criticised the Tories for cutting a £1 billion from The Met’s budget since 2010 and for planning cuts of £400 million in addition to the £600 million already cut.

John Cryer, Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead says: “Wanstead needs the police presence restored, the police station should never have been closed.”

Ms Blackman argues: “The more we build a sense of community the more resilient and safer we can be as a borough.”