Residents back tax rise to fund police

Lancashire's police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw

Lancashire's police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw

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An ‘overwhelming’ majority of Fylde coast residents have backed a council tax rise to help keep police on the streets as budget cuts approach £100m.

Despite a Government pledge to protect police funding, Lancashire Police is facing a funding gap of £32.7m over the next four years.

The figures were contained in a report to members of the police and crime panel, which last night backed calls to increase the police precept by 1.99 per cent – or 6p a week for a band D property.

By 2020, it is expected more than £93m will have been slashed from the force’s budget over nine years. Most of the savings have already been identified – and £50m of cuts already implemented – but there is still £18.7m to find.

Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “Residents once again responded overwhelmingly in support of an increase in council tax of 6p per week.

“Inevitably there will always be some who don’t agree, but I promised I would be the voice of people in Lancashire and therefore I need to reflect the majority when making my decision.”

The precept rise is expected raise £1.3m for the force and help to safeguard the jobs of 28 police officers.

Of the 2,685 people who took part in a consultation over plans to raise the police precept, more than 80 per cent supported an increase of two per cent or more.

Blackpool had the lowest level of support but the tax hike was still backed by more than three quarters of residents. Approval in Wyre was over 90 per cent.

Mr Grunshaw last night told members of the police and crime panel that several councils, which are also facing cuts to their Government funding, have stopped funding PCSOs, leading to further pressure on the force.

He added: “I will maintain my funding at current levels for PCSOs but we will need to see how this plays out in the next few months when we know just how much we stand to lose from this funding.”

The panel backed increasing the police precept with one person voting against the plans and two abstentions.