CHESHIRE Police Authority has escaped Government action for approving the second highest budget rise in the country.
In April the body which finances the county force backed a 17% increase in spending for the current financial year, which translated into 4.4% Council Tax rise in this borough.
But the scale of budget hike attracted the attention of the Government who demanded authority leaders make a good case for it.
It also opened up the possibility of police spending being capped and an expensive re-distribution of tax bills at a lower rate. However, Local Government Minister John Healey has allowed the increase to go ahead but limited the authority to rises of just 3% for each of the next two years.
Police authority chairman Peter Nurse said: “The authority is delighted the Government has decided not to cap the 2008/09 budget for policing in Cheshire. Residents told us they wanted to see improvements in policing services and they were prepared to pay more.
“We do, however, need to consider the second part of the Minister’s statement which restricts council tax increases in the next two years to 3%.
“This will be very challenging, particularly with the threat of rising inflation. We will consider this carefully in the coming months as we plan next year’s budget and may need to discuss this further with the Government.”
He added: “Policing in Cheshire is efficient. Over the last seven years the authority has made £30m savings and will continue to ensure we maintain our frontline policing resources, which is what the public have told us they want.
“The £168m budget, £50m of which is funded by Council Tax, will allow us to continue to invest in neighbourhood policing in direct response to what citizens have told us they want – locally based officers dealing with community issues.
“We will be able to strengthen Cheshire’s capacity to deal with serious and organised crime such as drug dealing, robbery, terrorism, sex offenders, and further invest in victim and witness care.”