Merseyside Police Authority vote to increase council tax

Merseyside's police authority is to increase its council tax precept by 3%.

The authority had met to set its budget for 2012/13 last week, but the meeting was adjourned when members failed to reach a decision.

It said the tax rise would allow them to protect front line services while making necessary savings to deliver cuts imposed by central government.

The rise will mean an extra £2.92 a year for Band A properties, which make up the majority of households.

Merseyside Police is set to lose more than 250 officers over the next two years as part of cost-cutting plans.

The force has to save more than £61m over the next four years due to reduced government funding.

Members voted for the tax rise by 14 to three.

'Operational challenges'

Merseyside Police Authority said that by increasing the contribution council tax payers make, they will be able to lift a recruitment freeze and hope to employ 40 new members of staff in the coming year.

Chairman Bill Weightman said: "I adjourned our budget meeting last week to give members the opportunity to reflect and speak to the community.

"The result is a decision to raise the precept by 3%, that's an extra 6p a week for Band A council tax payers, the majority of households in Merseyside. I sincerely believe our members made the right decision on behalf of the people they serve.

"By focussing on the front line, balancing this with the necessary savings, and working in close partnership with the Chief Constable and his dedicated team of professionals, I am in no doubt we're leaving the future model of police governance with the healthiest financial position possible."

Paul Johnson, Merseyside Police Authority's Chief Executive and Treasurer, said: "Sound financial management in 2011/12 has put us in a positive position to face the future, but we nevertheless remain acutely aware of the financial and operational challenges ahead.

"What we need to do now is protect the front line as far as possible, focus on continuous improvements to make Merseyside Police even more efficient, and in doing so deliver the remaining savings."

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