Kessingland to vote on whether it should pay more council tax to keep PCSO

Marram Green, Kessingland.

Marram Green, Kessingland. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Residents are set to vote on whether they should pay extra council tax so their village can keep its own dedicated police community support officer (PCSO).

Kessingland Parish Council currently pays £15,000 a year for a PCSO, with the rest of their salary paid by Suffolk Police.

But funding cutbacks mean the force is no longer matching the parish council's contribution to the posts.

That means the full salary cost would fall to the council, with the authority saying it would need to raise its precept and increase what it charges residents to cover the cost. The council used to contribute £30,000 out of its budget in previous years for policing, but this was for two PCSOs on a match-funded arrangement.

'If we take up the offer of one PCSO post fully funded at £30,000, this would have a direct affect on the setting of the 2017/18 precept, increasing it by £15,000 on top of what we budget for now.

'This is something that the parish council cannot make a decision on because the amount of increase on the precept is so large, the community would have to decide on what they want,' said parish council chairman Liam Martin.

An information leaflet sent to Kessingland added: 'Such an important issue needs to be made by the community and your views will determine the future of policing in Kessingland.'

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A public meeting was held to explain the issue to residents at Marram Green on Monday, with a further meeting planned for 7pm on Tuesday, September 13 after the votes have been submitted. In the meantime, the parish council will deliver voting slips to residents in the area giving them two choices - to accept the loss of a dedicated officer, or to pay extra in order to keep a dedicated officer.

If the area votes no, the village will still have police cover in emergencies but will lack a dedicated officer to liaise with the community and look into potential ongoing issues.

Ballot boxes will be out around the village, including at the main entrance to Marram Green, the Co-Op and doctors' surgery in Field Lane, Hayden's pharmacy in the High Street and the Sailors Home in Church Road. The deadline for returning voting slips is Friday, September 5.