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Massive tax hike for policing Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 11:09 20 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

POLICE in Suffolk are raising their share of the county's council tax bills by more than 30% to make up for a multi-million pound shortfall in funding.

POLICE in Suffolk are raising their share of the county's council tax bills by more than 30% to make up for a multi-million pound shortfall in funding.

Members of the Suffolk Police Authority met yesterday to approve in principal the budget for 2003/04, which includes a hike in their council tax precept of almost £30.

But there was disagreement amongst members about a £500,000 special development fund included in the budget.

The authority is facing a £2.8 million gap in its budget for the next financial year and had warned that rises in council tax would have to compensate.

Christine Laverock, the authority's chairman, has written to Home Secretary David Blunkett to ask for an increase in the Government funding.

It has been allocated increased funding of £1.9m for the next financial year – up from £62m to £63.9m – but the police authority said it faced increased costs of £4.7m to maintain levels.

The authority's share of council tax bills will rise from £82.08 for a Band D property to £109.53 for 2003/04 – a rise of 33% - if the budget gets the final go-ahead at the authority's next meeting in February.

The budget allows for expenditure of £101.1m and council tax should account for about £25.8m of that figure. During the year, Suffolk Constabulary hopes to recruit 41 new officers.

Members voted in favour of approving the budget, but could not agree the recommended level of a development fund, which provides for initiatives such as IT, neighbourhood watch and the force's best value reviews.

The fund for this year was £220,000, but the new budget proposes increase it to £500,000 in 2003/04, with possible increases to £1m in 2004/05, and £1.5m in 2005/06.

Joanna Spicer, authority member, said: "I don't think we need to increase the fund that dramatically – it is too much considering the current financial situation."

The matter will be considered by the authority's planning panel before going for approval at the meeting in February, when confirmation of the Government settlement should also have been received.

Graham Manuel, vice chairman of the planning panel, said of the overall budget: "We have to support the amounts of money that are being suggested. We can't talk about under-investment and not do anything about it."

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