Residents are being urged to make their views known on funding for the police service in Cheshire.
Between January 3-24, Cheshire’s communities will be able to give their views on whether funding for Cheshire Constabulary should be maintained at current levels or reduced.
The public will be able express their opinions online at www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk on whether funding for the police service should be maintained. It will only take two minutes of your time, and the outcome will influence the decision police and crime commissioner for Cheshire David Keane makes about the policing precept.
You will have three options; a 2% increase, a 1% increase or no increase to the policing element of the council tax.
Mr Keane said: “Recent years have seen severe cuts to public services from successive governments. The result locally has been that we have had to find £52.4 million of savings over the past seven years.
“The government has said that police budgets will be protected at current levels. However it isn’t quite that simple, as the Government commitment does not take into account inflation and is based on local commissioners increasing the police share of council tax, known as the policing precept, by 2%.”
During the online consultation the public and the business community will be asked if they are willing to support a 2% or 1% increase in the precept or whether it should be kept at the current level. The outcome will then provide the commissioner with a clear understanding of what the public think before setting the policing precept for the forthcoming year.
Mr Keane added: “I committed to speaking to the public about police funding prior to making any decision and I am keeping my promise. I know this is a tough decision, particularly as many people are continuing to feel that they have less money in their pocket after the bills have gone out, but I believe that a 2% increase, just 6p a week for a Band D average household, to maintain funding would provide strong support for local policing.
“I’m clear that maintaining current funding levels through a 2% increase in the precept would not mean local policing stands still. Through careful re-prioritisation and increased efficiency, the people of Cheshire will see investments in areas of policing you told me were important as I developed the police and crime plan.
“Among other things, investment will be made in supporting victims of sexual abuse, local policing, investment in cutting edge technology to support public contact and road safety, and the provision of a modern fit for purpose estate all ensuring policing in Cheshire is connected with our communities.
“I have been working with Simon Byrne, the chief constable, to study the existing budget and will be making a number of efficiency savings. What I now need is your view on the police precept.”
A 1% increase would result in a cut of £0.6 million; this would mean a reduction in policing services and be equivalent to 13 fewer police officers.
Freezing the precept at the current level would require greater reductions in policing services through a £1.2 million cut, which is equivalent to 26 fewer police officers.
The consultation can be found online and a number of public consultation roadshows have been arranged across Cheshire to enable the commissioner and his team to gather views from as many people as possible. This includes Tesco at Frodsham Square in Chester on Monday, January 16 from noon-2pm.
All details can be found at www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk.