DCSIMG

Policing boss in council tax row

Clive Grunshaw

Clive Grunshaw

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has accused Wyre Council leader of “putting politics above the views of residents” in a row over a proposed council tax increase.

Commissioner Clive Grunshaw is due to present his budget proposals to a Police and Crime Panel next Monday, when he will suggest 73% of Wyre residents are prepared to pay more council tax for policing.

But Conservative Coun Peter Gibson has tabled a notice of motion ahead of Thursday’s full Wyre Council meeting, asking his fellow councillors to voice their “dismay” at the commissioner’s plans for a council tax increase.

Former Labour councillor Mr Grunshaw said: “I am disappointed to see that, yet again, Coun Gibson is putting politics above the views of his residents.

“Before tabling this motion, he and his group had not even seen my budget proposal and the evidence in support of my decision.”

Mr Grunshaw added: “Across the county, 74 per cent of residents surveyed have indicated they are willing to pay more and residents in Wyre were no different.

“Unlike Coun Gibson, they understand the difficulties the police force is facing and the importance of paying a small increase, an extra £3 a year, to protect the force’s resilience in the future.”

Around 35 per cent of residents questioned in Wyre said they were willing to pay a two per cent increase in the police’s share of the tax, while 38 per cent were prepared to accept a five per cent rise.

Coun Gibson said the results did not match the views of people he had spoken to.

He said: “They think there should be a total council tax freeze at the moment, so I don’t accept that at all.

“It depends on what questions you ask and in what context you do it. The police had an underspend of £5m last year, they have reserves of £27m and there are 74 vacant posts for PCSOs in Lancashire, which this commissioner has said will not be filled - that’s a saving of something like £2m.

“If you say to people, ‘Given these savings, which are facts, are you happy for your police precept to be increased?’

“I would suggest they would say ‘absolutely not’.”

“If you say to people ‘given these savings, which are facts, are you happy for your police precept to be increased?’

“I would suggest they would say ‘absolutely not’.”

Lancashire police’s budget has been cut by £60m, and Mr Grunshaw has to find another £19.9m of savings by 2017/18.

 

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