WOKING Liberal Democrats have slammed the plan by Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner to raise the force’s section of council tax by 24 per cent next year.
Kevin Hurley has written to all councillors in the county asking for their views on his plan to increase the Surrey Police precept to protect and enhance the service.
Currently, around 13 per cent of residents’ council tax bill goes to fund the police. If the PCC pursued his plan and it was approved, this would increase from £211 to £262 a year for a Band D property. Surrey County and Woking Borough Councils are already planning on putting up their sections of council tax by two per cent next year.
Lib Dem Leader for Woking, Councillor Will Forster, has already rejected the bid. He explained: “I think the idea of a massive 24 per cent increase in council tax is unfair, unjustified and unreasonable madness.
“I do not think many people will be able to afford such a rise, and with crime levels falling already – I do not think there is a clear public demand for the beefed up police service that Kevin Hurley wants.
“Both Surrey County and Woking Borough councils are also planning to increase their shares of council tax by per cent, so the public’s next council tax bill could soon jump sky high.”
Because of the size of the increase, a referendum would be required. It follows an approved 1.99 per cent increase in 2013.
Woking’s Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson, Chris Took, is also against the plans. He added: “I hoped that Police and Crime Commissioners would revolutionise policing with fresh ideas, initiatives and directives – instead they have been plagued by a democratic deficit and poor accountability.
“I strongly expect that if Kevin Hurley carries out his plan, any referendum would be rejected by the Surrey public and for it to signal the death knell to the PCC experiment altogether.
“Kevin Hurley’s proposal for a referendum in May 2015 to increase the police’s share of council tax by as much as 24 per cent underlines the failure of the PPC experiment.
“Having already applied the maximum increase allowed without the need to trigger a referendum (1.99 per cent) one would have hoped for a more innovative approach.”
Mr Hurley last week announced his force had ‘run out of money’, adding: “At one time we had 43 front counters [small or large police stations] in this county… we’ve got three police stations open 24/7 in this county now. We simply cannot keep cutting.”