A MOTION to overturn the new police and crime commissioner’s first budget proposal has been narrowly defeated.
Clive Grunshaw has proposed to turn down a £1.3million government grant that would be awarded if council tax was frozen and chose instead to increase the police section of the tax for 2013/14 by two per cent to try to meet the saving requirement.
At a meeting of the Police and Crime Commissioner Panel, Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council proposed a motion to accept the grant instead, but was defeated nine votes to eight.
Speaking after the meeting, Tory Coun Driver said: “It is not fair to the people of Lancashire to turn down £1.3million and put up council tax by two per cent.
“If he had accepted the government grant, it would have only required them to find £600,000. It is a lot of money to you or I but in a large budget it is not.”
Conservative Michael Ranson, leader of Ribble Valley Council, said he also believed the savings could be found elsewhere.
He said: “I was absolutely with Coun Driver. It is not necessary to raise council tax and there are plenty of other opportunities to make savings. I think increasing council tax is an easy option.”
But Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Kate Hollern said she supported the commissioner’s proposal.
She said: “Over the next couple of years, the commissioner is looking to make £60million worth of savings which is going to be really difficult for him.
“It does need to be done. There have been huge cuts in police numbers and it is really important we have as many officers as possible.
“I think a two per cent police precept increase is worth it. It works out at less than £3 per person per year.”
Labour Coun Hollern added that she was extremely pleased that the commissioner had pledged to maintain the number of PCSOs provided that local authorities continue to co-fund.
Mr Grunshaw, who was the Labour party candidate for Crime Commissioner, said: “I want to ensure that Lancashire Constabulary remains resilient and enable 50 police officers to be recruited to maintain frontline policing numbers.
“My proposed budget for 2013/14 is realistic and prudent and that combined with the efficiency programme is designed to help maintain the impressive level of service provided to our local communities.”