Coventry & Warwickshire

Warwickshire Police Authority could seek council tax rise

Residents in Warwickshire could see their council tax bills increase to help ease the financial constraints on policing in the county.

Warwickshire Police Authority says the force's budget needs to be reduced by £22.9m over the next four years.

A spokesman said part of that could be found by an increase in council tax or an government grant.

Residents are urged to have their say before the authority meets next month to set the budget for 2012/13.

The authority says a 4% rise would equate to "£7 a year extra on the council tax, or 60p per month, on the average property" and it is not keen on taking the government grant.

Chief executive, Oliver Winters, said: "By accepting the government's offer of a grant to freeze the council tax in 2012/13, the council tax will not increase for local taxpayers next year, but the authority will have to make additional cuts in policing budgets from 2013/14, an amount equivalent to about 27 police officers."

Unusual request

The authority has already begun a cost-reduction process including the implementation of a new policing model and an alliance with the neighbouring West Mercia Police force.

Phil Robson, chair of the authority, added: "We really do understand the council's budget is very stretched at the moment and what we're asking is quite unusual. That's why we're talking to people about the need to do it."

Labour county councillor Richard Chattaway is not happy with the proposed increase in council tax but conceded the police are not "adequately funded".

He said: "The cuts in the police budget are starting to affect policing on the streets.

"In one area in Bedworth alone it was reported to us that crime had gone up by 21% and it's the government's responsibility to sort the mess out they created.

"You can't keep on doing this. If you want an effective service it's got to be efficient and it's going to cost some more money."

Warwickshire Police Authority is meeting to set the budget on 22 February.

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