There was a time - sadly now long past - when it was not unusual to see policemen and women patrolling the 'beat' around our towns.

That might seem like a luxury now but it is still disturbing to hear Cumbria's Chef Constable warning this week that funding cuts mean Cumbria could soon be left with purely a reactive police force that is only able to respond to emergency calls.

That will be bad news for local residents, particularly in a week when six women, some of them quite elderly, have been targeted in this area by a snatch gang, who have distracted them and stolen their property.

Meanwhile, a dozen youth clubs across South Lakeland could be under threat of closure after the plug was pulled on their funding. Cash-strapped Cumbria County Council has stopped funding the contract which saw staff from Young Cumbria deliver sessions.

Some funds have been allocated to assess each club and provide guidance on how they might become more self-sustaining, but now there are now urgent pleas for volunteers to help keep the clubs going, while two have had to close, hopefully only temporarily, due to lack of resources.

These are the austerity chickens which are now coming home to roost. Private firms felt the bite of the recession in 2008/9 and many still are, but the public sector is now finding itself in the full throes of its consequences.

In such circumstances it would be understandable to hunker down and concentrate fully on making cuts to keep as many services alive as possible. That process needs to take place but it is also important that council leaders do not get fixated purely on the cost-cutting process.

They must continue to provide leadership, inspiration and hope for the future, with messages to local people and the wider world that highlight the good things about this area.

Meanwhile let's hope the youth clubs manage to find the volunteers they need - and that police forces are not forced to rely on volunteers in the future!