North Yorkshire’s police commissioner insisted today she will persevere with her proposed 10.3 per cent increase to the county force’s share of council tax after a scrutiny committee refused to approve the plans.
The North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel vetoed the proposals put forward by Julia Mulligan after its members said they needed more detail, adding that there was “a lack of assurance about where the extra money would be spent”.
The proposed increase to the precept would have seen the police’s element of the annual council tax bill in North Yorkshire rise by £23.95 to £256.77 for a Band D property in 2019/20.
Police and crime commissioners, who are responsible for setting the budgets for local forces, were told before Christmas they could raise their precepts by a maximum of £24 a year for a Band D property.
The Government says forces nationwide could get £970m in extra funding in 2019/20, but £500m of that is dependent on introducing the £24 annual increase, prompting criticism that Ministers were “shunting the cost of policing” onto the general public.
Labour crime commissioners in South and West Yorkshire are proposing the maximum possible increases, while earlier this week Humberside police commissioner Keith Hunter revealed that he also planned to increase his share of council tax by the maximum amount, equivalent to a 12 per cent rise.
The proposals for North Yorkshire were discussed at a meeting where councillors were told of “a significant level of dissatisfaction about policing in North Yorkshire”.
Councillor Carl Les, who chairs the panel, said: “Rejecting the commissioner’s proposal was not a decision taken lightly by the panel and we understand the public’s need to have a more visible policing presence in York and North Yorkshire.
“But an increase of more than 10 per cent is simply too much to ask people to pay without further information about how aspects of local policing will be improved.”
In response Mrs Mulligan, who also has oversight of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said she was “disappointed” by the decision and that a “huge amount of work” had gone into the proposals.
She told The Yorkshire Post the proposal was to provide a “one-off uplift” of £3.6m to the baseline budget of North Yorkshire Police and that future increases would be lower.
She said: “My proposals were crystal clear about boosting visible policing by an additional 50 police officers and 20 PCSOs, bringing North Yorkshire Police almost back to 2010 levels of resources.
Those new resources would then be split between additional officers and PCSOs for local and visible policing teams across the county to tackle offences like burglaries and anti-social behaviour, a new ‘city task force’ for York, more work on mental health and brand new teams focusing on prevention and early intervention.
“It is disappointing that this was not enough to convince the panel that my proposals were the right thing for our communities.
“I however remain convinced that these proposals are the right ones to ensure North Yorkshire residents and businesses are safe and feel safe.
“In the spirit of co-operation, I am always happy to provide further information on top of the extensive rationale already provided and look forward to answering the Panel’s questions ahead of the next meeting later this month.”
The proposals will be discussed again at a meeting on February 21.