Hurley does U-turn over council-tax hike

SURREY’S Police and Crime Commissioner has been forced to back down in his bid to invoke a 24 per cent hike in the police’s share of council tax.

At a meeting in County Hall last week Kevin Hurley was unanimously backed by councillors and independent members that comprise the county’s Police and Crime Panel in his revised proposal for a 1.99 per cent increase.

MR HURLEY - Surrey's Police and Crime Commissioner

BACKED DOWN – Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner has dropped his pursuit of a huge rise in police funding from council tax revenues

His original plans would have forced a referendum and were widely criticised by council chiefs and the public.

The changes will take the annual contribution from a Band D household for policing from £211.68 per year to £215.89 per year.

Commenting on the decision, Mr Hurley said: “Let me be clear from the outset – the decision does not mean the police budget goes up next year. It means that the police budget will reduce by less than it might otherwise have done.

“Surrey Police has lost millions of pounds in Government funding over the last few years and will lose millions more in the years ahead.

“The force have made a whole range of reforms to become more efficient and live within their reducing means, and have been praised by HMIC for it.

“However, those savings are running out. I am particularly concerned about what is coming over the horizon for the financial year 2016/17, where we face a budget gap of £7 million.

“That will hit the police head-count and ability to deliver service, there is no question about it. The clock is ticking.”

Mr Hurley has outlined three potential solutions:

  • Merge police forces: An option that in Mr Hurley’s view would release ‘hundreds of millions, if not billions of pounds’ for front line policing by doing away with the 41 sets of HQs, Chief Officers and PCCs currently in place.

  • Improve the way the Government allocates its funding: Mr Hurley has sent the Government independent analysis by Oxford Economics into how they allocate money to police forces and given achievable ideas for improving that to make sure the money goes where it is really needed (he says Surrey is losing out on as much as £6m per year because the formula doesn’t work as well as it could).

  • Significantly increase what the force raises via other stream of income: But a council tax increase have been met with resistance.

Mr Hurley added: “I’ve not gone to Government simply with the problems. I’ve gone to them with the answers. As far as I have seen, Westminster is simply not serious about tackling the issues that threaten police forces and public safety in Surrey and everywhere else in this country.

“This year, for the first time, the council tax payers of Surrey will provide more of their police force’s funding than the Government does.

“Over the next 12 months I will continue to do all I can to engage the people of Surrey in discussion on the future of how we police their communities, and to try and generate enough concern in the corridors of power for meaningful action to finally happen.”

 

 

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