Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner has been asked to reconsider a proposed precept rise of nearly 7%, with concerns over the burden it will place on tax payers.
The proposed 6.99% increase came before a meeting of the Gwent Police and Crime panel on Friday, but councillors voted against accepting the rise.
Instead they recommended that a rise of 6% is considered, in light of increasing pressures on tax payers, a better than expected police settlement and opportunities to borrow less with £1million of money earmarked for M4 relief road protests coming back into the budget.
Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Jeff Cuthbert, said the proposed rise had taken account of the pressures facing tax payers, while attempting to ensure the force could provide an adequate service.
“We are never happy to propose an increase but we have done so after a most rigorous process to make sure we are fair all round,” he said.
But Cllr Colin Mann raised concerns over the ‘burden’ being placed on the public with the proposed rise.
“We are living in a situation where lots of people are struggling,” he said.
The meeting heard that money has been used to reduce pressure on reserves, and to avoid paying a high interest rate on future borrowing.
Mr Cuthbert said an improved policing settlement would not impact on this precept proposal, but that it could reduce financial pressures further ahead.
Pam Kelly, chief constable of Gwent Police, said the proposed 6.99% precept rise would only allow the force to deliver the service it currently provides.
“I do not want to investigate with one hand tied behind my back in terms of finance, because it is not the best service I can provide for the community of Gwent,” she said.
Ms Kelly said investment in policing is needed, adding: “This is not an investment, it is a standing still budget.”
After the meeting, Mr Cuthbert said he will speak with the chief constable “to understand how their recommendation may affect service provision.”
The panel will submit a report by February 7 on its recommendation, which the commissioner will respond to by February 15.