Police increase council tax bill

CLEVELAND Police Authority has agreed to increase its section of council tax bills in the next financial year.

Members of Cleveland Police Authority decided on a 3.5 per cent increase in the policing precept element of council tax bills in the four areas it covers including Hartlepool and Stockton, which covers Billingham, Wolviston and parts of Wynyard.

It will see the precept for Band A property rise by £4.38 over the year, or eight pence a week.

Police authority chairman Stuart Drummond said he believed they had taken “the right decision for protecting services in the year — and the sensible decision in preparation for the further financial challenges ahead”.

Total spending on policing in Cleveland in the coming year will be £138.642m, with £33.493m contributed by council tax payers.

Members of the authority were told the Government grant would be cut by £6.5m in the coming year.

Treasurer Michael Porter said the Government was offering a one-off grant equivalent to a three per cent precept increase if authorities chose to freeze council tax levels, but he warned the effect in Cleveland would be to increase financial pressures in the future.

The budget assumes the number of police officers will average 1,504 over the coming year with the number of Police Community Support Officers set at 166.

Mr Drummond added: “Once again we are facing a very tough financial situation which has meant examining every aspect of operations.

“This budget will ensure that we are able to provide the resources for the force to continue delivering a first-class service to our local communities, and I believe that people will understand that a relatively modest increase is a price worth paying for that.”