CHESHIRE Police Authority looks set to have its planned budget increases capped by the Government.
Last month, a precept increase of 17% was decided and 54 more police officers across Cheshire promised.
But that now looks to be in jeopardy as the Government is expected to tell police authorities in Cheshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Cleveland and Warwickshire their proposed increases have gone too far.
A Government spokesman said ministers would not hesitate to protect Council Tax-payers from excessive increases.
They are targeting authorities whose precept increases are above the 5% limit deemed acceptable and Cheshire Police Authority’s increase is more than treble that figure.
Its spokeswoman Anna Collins responded: “Without a Council Tax increase above 59p (5%) a month, we would have to make officer and staff reductions to balance the budget.
“We will be seeking urgent meetings with ministers to stress the views of Cheshire people and the need for investment to avoid major service cuts.”
Last November, 2,400 Cheshire people were asked for their views in a MORI survey and 87% supported an increase of at least £1.50 per month in the Council Tax to pay for more policing.
Cheshire had the lowest precept of any shire force and even with this increase – which would increase its Council Tax precept by £3.8m to £45.3m – is still the sixth lowest nationwide.
Under the authority’s plans, Band D residents will contribute £135.75 per year – £1.64 extra every month.
Sir Simon Milton, Chairman of the Local Government Association, representing councils in England, insists: “Capping makes no sense. Capping five police authorities would mean that around 40 councils have to send out new bills to residents, which could end up costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
Cheshire Police Authority has three weeks to lobby ministers before a final decision is taken.