Home Secretary Theresa May steps into row over police’s share of council tax (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Home Secretary Theresa May steps into row over police’s share of council tax
A ROW over the decision to raise the police’s share of council tax has escalated with an MP involving the Home Secretary.
Dorset police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill’s plans to raise the police precept by almost two per cent will go ahead despite failing to win a majority when put to the vote.
Although the county’s police and crime panel voted 9-7 against the rise, the law says a veto must be supported by two-thirds of members.
Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood has met Home Secretary Theresa May over the issue and said it had been agreed that he should write with his views on how the panel’s powers should be revised.
He said Dorset Police under-spent by £2million last year and was projected to under-spend by £1.8m this year.
“There are many back office savings to be had through greater collaboration with local authorities,” he said. “I understand Bournemouth council has made such an offer but this has not been taken up. There are also greater savings to be had through joint training, procurement and administration support of all five constabularies as demonstrated by the fire and ambulance services in the South West.”
He said Bournemouth council would have to foot a £300,000 bill for the rising police and fire precepts if it wanted to freeze total council tax.
Martyn Underhill said the rise would cost a band D household an extra £3.60 a year and pointed out that the police and crime panel was a scrutinising body rather than a decision-making committee.
“I have been consulting for months on these proposals and 74 per cent of respondents support them,” he said.
He added: “I received intense political lobbying by Bournemouth politicians, intent on receiving my support to help them achieve their promise not to raise the council tax in Bournemouth before the next local elections. To pledge a four-year zero rise in council tax during a deep recession and unprecedented cuts to public spending is naïve at best, and foolish at worst.
“This is particularly so when it is understood that the police and fire elements of the council tax are not a decision for the council to make.
“I was disillusioned to find that some panel members voted according to their local political manifesto and not on the pan-Dorset needs of Dorset Police.”