By DAN GRIMMER
Friday, February 1, 2013
A council tax rise which will see people across Norfolk pay about a penny more a day to cover the costs of policing has been agreed, despite an attempt to veto it.
And Norfolk’s first police and crime commissioner said part of the reason extra cash is needed is because the repercussions from the Jimmy Savile allegations has put pressure on the force’s vulnerable people’s unit, with more people reporting abuse.
Stephen Bett, who was elected to the new role in November, said the increase could pay for up to 10 more frontline police staff, bolstering the unit which deals with reports of child abuse, domestic violence and rape, while also managing sex offenders.
He said the 1.965pc increase, which will see a Band D household pay £200.79 a year towards policing, would also help head off a potential £10m to £20m funding gap which could open up within four years.
He said he could have accepted a government offer of a two-year council tax reduction scheme grant, which would provide about £598,000 in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
But he said increasing the police element of the council tax will give more stability in the long run when it comes to paying for recurring staff wages.
Mr Bett yesterday presented his proposal to the Norfolk Police and Crime Panel – a panel made up of councillors and independent members.
He said: “I plan to give the chief constable discretion to retain up to 10 more essential frontline personnel to meet the challenges in the vulnerable people’s directorate where we face unprecedented pressure.”
But councillor Brian Long, representing West Norfolk Council, proposed a veto on the increase.
He said he would rather see the commissioner take the government money for freezing the council tax.
He said: “It sits very hard with me that we would continue to take more and more from the public purse. I propose we veto it on the basis that the increase is too high.”
However, the vote to veto it was lost and the panel then agreed, by eight votes to four to agree the increase.