By Nicola Priest

AS 97 police officers’ jobs are set to be axed over the next two years and Cheshire Constabulary’s civilian staff are at risk too, our Police and Crime Commissioner is still spending our money.

Not content with his junior oppo the Youth Ambassador appointed this year on a £23k salary, now to put a tick in a politically correct box, he’s given Warrington disabled athlete Adrian Derbyshire £5,000 to help buy a hand pushbike so he can use it to visit schools and talk to children about hate crimes.

While Mr Derbyshire is no doubt a worthy role model for children to listen to, I’m not convinced our PCC has got his priorities right.

And as we reported only last month in the Guardian, hate crime is indeed on the increase in the town. But it is racist abuse which is the biggest problem By the end of September this year, there had been 191 hate crime incidents with 30 people arrested and 19 of those were charged. The most common form of offending is racist threats, abuse and slurs and taxi drivers are the biggest victims of hate crime.

So, as well meaning as Mr Derbyshire is, I’m not sure that he’s the right person to tackle or understand racist abuse.

John Dwyer calls the £5k ‘money well spent’. And no doubt it is for Mr Derbyshire who is also going to use the handbike to compete in distance events.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Mr Derbyshire had a lot of specialist fencing equipment stolen earlier this year and he deserves some help with funding.

It’s where the funding is coming from that I object to.

In the same week that we reported this story we also reported how Mr Dwyer was backing the charity Live At Ease which helps armed forces veterans.

Yet there was no money in the pot from the PCC for that charity. Perhaps it doesn’t tick a box?

And isn’t this work with young people in schools on hate crime what our Youth Ambassador should be doing?

When he was appointed it was announced that: “The youth ambassador will work alongside the police, schools and young people’s organisations”.

So why do we need to spend more money on someone else talking to schools?

John Dwyer already spends nearly £700,000 a year on backroom staff yet there are fewer bobbies on the streets than when he came to office a year ago.

I bet those taxi drivers wish there were a few more pounding the beat.