Police commissioner wants to hear your views on proposed Council Tax rises

Police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite

Police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite - Credit: Archant

The police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire, Jason Ablewhite, is asking the public to tell him how much they are willing to support policing in a short survey launched this week.

The commissioner is inviting people to complete a short survey to tell him how much they are willing to contribute as part of their Council Tax for the coming year (2019/20), with three options available.

The first option would see tax increase by £4 per year (a two per cent increase), the second option would see an increase of £24 per year (a 12 per cent increase), and the third option would see an increase of £120 per year (a 60 per cent increase).

Mr Ablewhite said: “Chief constable, Nick Dean and I have been working hard to ensure our force is as efficient and effective as it can be. Last year, we introduced a new structure for local policing which brought an additional 50 officers to the front line. And, as a result of last year’s increase in the policing part of the Council Tax, a further 55 officers were also recruited and are now in training.

“Whilst those additional officers are very welcome, there are some harsh policing realities that we face. Demand on policing is growing. Cambridgeshire is a safe county, but police now spend more time tackling ‘hidden crimes’ such as domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation and modern day slavery.

“They also spend time working with partners to tackle vulnerability where there is a risk to an individual or members of the public.

“Our police force is still one of the lowest funded forces in the country and one of the most efficient costing 42p per person per day against a national average of 51p (per person per day).

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“Cambridgeshire’s population is forecast to grow by 20 per cent by 2031 but with government funding not currently linked to population growth, this is something we continue to press for change.

“We will continue to identify further efficiency savings, however in order to meet future demand, I propose to increase the policing part of the council tax by £2 per month per household (based on a Band D property).

“This equates to 50p per week or £24 per year. I would be grateful if you could spare a minute to complete a short survey. Your views will then help inform my final decision on how much to raise the policing part of the council tax.”

The survey runs until January 28 and can be found at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RHJL6KW

Meanwhile, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Fire Authority is proposing up to a three per cent increase to the fire service’s proportion of Council Tax for 2019/20, equating to an extra £1.98 a year for a Band D property.

The proposed figure will allow the Fire Authority to “maintain the current service” but would not allow for any growth, it said.

Chairman of the authority Kevin Reynolds said: “We do everything we can to keep the precept we set as low as possible and this is demonstrated by the fact we are one of the lowest cost fire and rescue services in the country.

“ We have been assessed in our recent government inspection as ‘good’ for how efficient and effective we are as a service and we have a strong track record of identifying ways in which we can be more cost effective to either plug funding gaps or reinvest back into the service to help us continue to improve.

“But despite this, we are having to ask for an extra £1.98 a year for a Band D property this year to enable us to maintain our current level of service. Protecting the frontline is vitally important to us and it becomes more challenging each year with additional financial pressures, but a small increase in council tax will allow us to do this.”

Increasing the amount of Council Tax for the fire service by up to three per cent will mean a payment of up to £70.74 per year for a Band D property.