DCSIMG

Row over policing tax cost

A war of words over policing costs has broken out between the leader of Wyre Council, Coun Peter Gibson and Lancashires PCC Clive Grunshaw.

A war of words over policing costs has broken out between the leader of Wyre Council, Coun Peter Gibson and Lancashires PCC Clive Grunshaw.

Community leaders are calling on a police chief to scrap his plans to increase council tax.

Wyre councillors, including leader Peter Gibson, say they are “dismayed” at the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner’s plans to increase the tax, and have tabled a Notice of Motion urging Clive Grunshaw to drop his plans.

The increase could be made following consultation with residents and the increase in the police portion of council tax may be as much as five per cent.

However, Commissioner Grunshaw claims 73 per cent of residents in Wyre are prepared to pay more for policing.

The Notice of Motion states: “That this council views with dismay the fact that again Police Commissioner Grunshaw is considering increasing the Police portion of the Council Tax.

“The council notes that at a meeting of the Police and Crime Panel on July 8, 2013 it was revealed for the financial year 2012/13 police had an underspend of £5.6m and reserves, both general and earmarked, amounted to £27.5m.”

Coun Gibson also argues there are 74 vacant PCSO posts throughout Lancashire and the commissioner is “emphatic” he had no intention of filling the posts.

He added: “There was an underspend last year, police reserves amounted to £27m and there’s 74 vacant positions throughout Lancashire and if I asked ‘do you think we should put up council tax?’ the answer I’d get is a totally different one.”

Around 35 per cent of residents questioned in Wyre said they were willing to pay a two per cent increase, while 38 per cent were prepared to accept a five per cent rise.

Fleetwood-based Mr Grunshaw, a former Wyre councillor, said: “Before tabling this motion, Coun Gibson and his group had not even seen my budget proposal and the evidence in support of my decision, all of which is due to be presented at the Police and Crime Panel on Monday.

“That clearly sets out why increasing the police precept is in the best interests of all Lancashire’s residents if Lancashire Constabulary is to remain a resilient police force, and also details the overwhelming support of Lancashire’s residents for this.

“Fully-funded PCSOs will be maintained at 335 with all vacancies being filled, and it is the decision of the Chief Constable where they are 
deployed based on risk, threat and harm.”

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