Lancashire PCC asks for council tax rise to fund policing

Clive Grunshaw
Image caption Lancashire PCC Clive Grunshaw is exploring ways of offsetting government-imposed savings

People in Lancashire are being asked if they will pay more council tax to "relieve pressure" on policing by the county's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Clive Grunshaw is holding road shows to gauge opinion on a rise as Lancashire Constabulary still needs to make £20m of savings by 2017/18.

He said a 2% hike would mean the average household paying 6p a week more would raise £1.2m a year or the equivalent of 26 more police officers.

The budget will be set on 27 January.

Prides itself

Mr Grunshaw said: "Asking people to pay more is something I need to consider in order to relieve the pressure on frontline policing.

"If every household saw their precept increased by 2% - 6p a week for a Band D property - then we would have an extra £1.2m a year to spend on policing."

He said although it was a difficult financial climate there was a need to minimise the impact of the cuts "to maintain the high levels of performance which the force prides itself on".

Mr Grunshaw said the government asked him last month to make a further £20m of savings over the next four years.

Lancashire Constabulary has already axed about 500 officers, making savings of about £60m.

Lancashire County Council (LCC) leader Jennifer Mein said: "We are in the process of drawing up our budget so no decisions on council tax have been made yet.

The Labour councillor said despite "massive savings" having to be made by the authority she would support the county's PCC.

'Reduce bureaucracy'

"If Clive Grunshaw thinks a rise is required for policing then I would back him."

Leader of LCC's opposition party, Conservative councillor Geoff Driver said he had no problem with a council tax rise to fund more police officers but said "a lot of other things could be done first".

He offered the alternative of reducing "[Mr Grunshaw's] own administration and bureaucracy costs which are very expensive and could be done at a fraction of the cost".

The former LCC leader also said using £3.7m which was made available when he was in office to pay for additional PCSOs.

Mr Grunshaw was elected as Lancashire PCC in November 2012.

He is still waiting to find out if he will be prosecuted over expenses claims made in his former role when he was a county councillor and police authority member.

The Labour PCC denies wilfully submitting claims he knew to be untrue.

The 2014/15 budget will be set at a county council meeting on 27 January.

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