Council tax bills to go up by 7p a week to plug police cash hole

South Holland council tax payers will have to find seven pence more a week from April to help plug a £3.2 
million gap in the county’s 
policing budget.

Council tax bills in 2015-16 will go up by £3.78, based on an average band D property, after a precept rise of nearly two per cent was unanimously agreed by Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Panel at a meeting on Friday.

The 1.95 per cent rise was put forward by Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick who warned the panel that the force was facing a cash squeeze of almost £8 million over the next three years.

Mr Hardwick said: “I am delighted about the unanimous vote by the panel to approve the 1.95 per cent increase in the police precept which I had proposed.

“This means that my pledge to keep 1,100 front line officers and 149 PCSOs (police community support officers) can continue to be honoured. “Neighbourhood policing will not be under threat and we continue to be in dialogue with the Home Office and the Policing Minister (Mike Penning MP) about funding for the force.

“A positive result of our interaction with the Government is that Chief Constable Neil Rhodes has been invited by the Policing Minister to the top table Gold Group which discusses the police funding formula and I am pleased the Government has listened to us.”

During the meeting, it was revealed that both Mr Penning and Home Secretary Theresa May have agreed to visit Lincolnshire to see how the county is policed.

Deputy Chief Constable Heather Roach, who was at Friday’s meeting, said: “Our invitations to the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister to visit the force have been accepted.

“But ahead of that, we will be welcoming a team of Home Office officials to examine the way we police and whether in the short term we are eligible for a special Government grant.

“We have balanced the budget for the next financial year ahead, but there is the prospect of a £4.5 million deficit in 2016/17 unless further funding is found.”

Police and Crime Panel chairman Norman Norris said: “Lincolnshire Police remains one of the most underfunded forces in the country and the precept increase proposed is needed to ensure a robust and effective standard of policing can be provided to the people of Lincolnshire in the year ahead.”