THE Cumbria Police council tax precept will rise by almost two per cent in the next financial year.
The decision was made this week by Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes, who revealed Cumbria Police will take an extra 1.93 per cent from residents - just weeks after a rise of 1.99 per cent was rejected by the Police and Crime Panel.
“We are extremely fortunate that levels of crime are low and it is important to maintain these low levels,” said Mr Rhodes, as he announced the rise.
“The people of Cumbria deserve a police force that is there for them when they need it and I am not willing to compromise people’s safety.”
The proposal for a 1.99 per cent hike was made in January but was vetoed amid fears it could have led to a local referendum if government rules surrounding council tax rises change.
“This is a decision that the panel would rather not have made,” said Councillor Celia Tibble, chair of the group, at the time.
Mr Rhodes was given a deadline of February 15 to come up with another figure, which had to be decided by February 22.
The 1.93 per cent increase will be less than 8p per week per household - or £3.96 per year for a band D property.
“While this doesn’t appear to be a significant amount, the consequences for the long-term future of the constabulary are significant,” said Mr Rhodes.
“Failure to go ahead will mean that the constabulary’s income will be reduced by a further £2m over the next four years.”
Savings of £14 million have already been made by the police, although there is a further £10m to be saved by 2017.
Now the commissioner hopes the agreed council tax increase will enable a county-wide CCTV system, more officers on the street and more protection for the ‘most vulnerable’ children and adults.
“It is completely unimaginable and unacceptable that the police could find themselves in a position where they couldn’t provide a county response to protect lives and property - the core policing functions,” he added.
“As a result of financial constraints, other agencies are being forced to fulfil only their statutory obligations.
“Consequently, in times of difficulty, the police are called upon to react more and more.”
The decision was welcomed by the constabulary’s temporary chief constable, Bernard Lawson.
“These are particularly challenging times for policing in the county,” he said.
“This increase is an important element in supporting frontline community policing and enhancing public safety in both the short and long term.”