Police agree increase in council tax share

POLICE bosses have today agreed plans for a 3.96 per cent rise in the force’s share of the council tax bill.

Lincolnshire Police Authority’s budget plans for the next financial year will see a Ban D household pay an extra £7.11 a year, or 14p a week, for policing.

Police Authority Chairman Barry Young said: “The Authority had a stark choice: either raise the level of our precept or lose more police officers.

“We believe we have made the right decision.

“Basically, we are asking Lincolnshire’s council taxpayers to make an investment of a few more pence a week in return for a Force that by April will have 97 per cent of its officers on the front line.

“We were told by the Government to cut £20million from our budget by 2014.

“Without an increase in the policing element of the council tax, a budget reduction of that size would inevitably mean a reduction in the standard of policing.

“We are not willing to jeopardise the effectiveness of what is already the leanest, most cost-effective Force in the country.”

The force has just announced a landmark £200 million deal with private firm G4S to hand over its non-frontline services.

The authority chose not to take a one-off Government grant to freeze its council tax bills – an offer accepted by Lincolnshire County and Boston Borough councils to keep their share the same for 2012/13.

Mr Young said: “We debated accepting a one-off Government grant equal to a three per cent increase in return for freezing the precept.

“Taking the offer would have made an already precarious financial position far worse.

“It would have left the Force and the new Police and Crime Commissioner, who will be elected to replace the Authority in November, with an ever-increasing funding shortfall in coming years, leading to the loss of more police officers and staff.

“We could not accept what would be, at best, a temporary financial fix and at worst a threat to public safety in Lincolnshire.

“The Authority still faces significant financial challenges but we believe we have provided a solid foundation to secure safety and value for money policing for all the communities we serve.”

Boston Borough Council will agree its budget deal at a meeting on Thursday and Lincolnshire County Council agree to freeze its portion last week.

Police Chief Constable Richard Crompton said: “Having worked with the Authority for the past seven and a half years, I can guarantee that we have the most effective working relationship of any Force and Authority in the country.

“Today’s decision was difficult but the unanimous decision indicated that the Authority is convinced that this modest increase is necessary to secure effective policing in Lincolnshire.”