PCC Sue Mountstevens rejects police precept increase call

Sue Mountstevens, independent PCC candidate Sue Mountstevens has decided to reject the panel's recommendations

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Avon and Somerset's PCC has rejected a call for her to reconsider plans not to seek a rise in the the amount council taxpayers contribute to the police.

PCC Sue Mountstevens, Independent, has set out a budget of £279m for 2013-14, £3m less than this financial year.

During a police and crime panel meeting five members backed the budget, but 11 were against - a vote short of a veto.

The PCC said government grants for 2013-14 would provide the equivalent of a 1% council tax increase.

'Hard times'

"I have listened carefully to what the police and crime panel has said today and I agree with them that freezing the council tax is not a long-term solution," Ms Mounstevens said.

"During the election campaign the view of residents was clear to me: many households are experiencing hard times and an increase in the policing part of the council tax would be felt.

"I took account of these views in my budget planning and, bearing in mind that we are treated unfairly by government funding, I felt that I could not turn away a government grant equivalent to a 1% council tax increase.

"I will freeze the policing part of the council tax this year but I plan to have a full consultation with residents next year."

The precept, the part of the council tax bill levied to fund the police, has been frozen for the past two years.

'Facing huge deficit'

As commissioner, Ms Mountstevens has the power to reject the panel's suggestion and put the budget through in its current form.

Panel member, councillor Lisa Brett, voted against the freeze.

She said: "We don't know what's around the corner, we are facing a huge deficit over the next three years, and I'm a little bit concerned about the problems we are storing up for the future."

For 2013-14, the Avon and Somerset force is to receive £179m in government grants.

The draft budget proposes to spend the following amount:

  • £275m on the constabulary
  • £1.5m on the office of the PCC
  • About £2.5m for the Community Safety Fund, which is spent on community projects

In order for the police to have a balanced budget for 2013-14, a further £7m of savings must be made.

However, projections for the long term have shown the force could be in deficit by up to £35m by 2016.

Avon and Somerset police's Police and Crime Plan is set to be published at the end of March. The public consultation is set to end on 22 February.

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