Council tax bill hike to up police budget
TAXPAYERS will have to fork out extra cash to pay for police in Gloucestershire after a precept increase of two per cent was agreed.
The Police and Crime Panel decided to support the Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl's proposed budget, which included the tax hike, yesterday.
The increase will generate an additional £900,000 of income for the police each year – enough to pay for 30 police officers.
It means the average taxpayer will have to contribute an extra £3.99 to the police through their council tax bill this coming year.
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Mr Surl, pictured, stressed during the meeting at Shire Hall that he is 'in touch' with what the people of Gloucestershire want from the police. He insisted that the financial plans were about building a sustainable future for the force.
"After 2015, the budget won't balance and the constabulary will have to make £8.1 million in savings on top of the £18 million we have already saved," he added.
"That's why it is important we invest to save.
"I did consider the freeze. The impact of a two per cent increase on a band D property is £3.99 a year. That isn't a lot to me, but I do understand that it is a lot to some people.
"For some people £3.99 is another £3.99 that they may be in debt. But I think this is the right way forward."
Speaking after the decision was made, Councillor Brian Calway, the chairman of the Police and Crime Panel, said: "The panel deliberated at great length because we have to acknowledge that the affect on the public purse needs to be very carefully considered."
The panel also asked for more communications from the Police and Crime Commissioner's office so they were better informed of Mr Surl's plans.
Gloucestershire Constabulary is expected to have £24.6 million in reserves at the end of April this year. However, most of this cash is already earmarked for areas such as the upgrading of police stations in Cheltenham and Gloucester and improvements to IT.
Mr Surl was joined at the meeting by the county's new Chief Constable, Suzette Davenport.
It was Ms Davenport's third day in the job.