Police force's radio funding row

By Juliette MaxamA POLICE authority chairman has claimed the Home Office has reneged on a promise to give his force an extra £759,000 for a new radio system.

By Juliette Maxam

A POLICE authority chairman has claimed the Home Office has reneged on a promise to give his force an extra £759,000 for a new radio system.

Every police force in England and Wales is installing a nationwide radio system, under the Airwave project, to improve the quality of communications across the country.

Robert Chambers, chairman of Essex Police Authority, claimed the Home Office had promised the force would receive a £759,000 grant towards the cost of the project - on top of a budget increase of 3.3%.


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But he alleged the money had instead been included in a 3.3% budget increase for next year.

Mr Chambers said that meant once the Airwave project sum was taken away, the police authority had effectively been given a rise of 2.8%, when the force needed at least 4.5% just to standstill.

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“This is grossly unfair. I've got a letter from the Home Office which admits they made a mistake and they should put this right by giving us what is rightly ours,” he added.

Mr Chambers is now lobbying the county's MPs, calling on them to ask the Home Office to give the promised grant.

He has already met several MPs to discuss the authority's plight and said: “They're all very much in favour of what I'm trying to do.”

But Mr Chambers was not confident the authority will get the £759,000 and so it has worked out a budget for next year without the funding.

Mr Chambers said he will be drawing on the force's savings, rather than making cuts or putting up the police authority's share of Council Tax, to pay for the new radio project.

However, he predicted an increase in the police authority's share of the Council Tax due to a low budget settlement figure.

“The Council Tax for the police authority will be no higher than 7%. We've got to put it up so we don't lose frontline services,” said Mr Chambers.

A Home Office spokesman said: “There wasn't a promise of any extra money to fund Airwave. The Home Office provided £100million per annum for Airwave project and to support local bespoke services.”

juliette.maxam@eadt.co.uk

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