By Tristan Harris 14/02 Updated: 17/02 14:07
THERE will be no increase in the police precept of this year's council tax bills, it has been announced.
The news came from the West Mercia Police Authority which met at Hindlip today (Tuesday) and means, for example, that the average Band D property household across Worcestershire will remain at £178.72 for 2012/3 - the same at 2010/11 levels.
This is the last time the authority will get to approve the budget. West Mercia's organisation, along with its counterparts from across the country, are being axed in favour of Police and Crime Commissioners, which come into force in November this year.
The chairman of the West Mercia Police Authority Sheila Blagg described the budget as 'a sensible one'.
"It combines taking advantage of the special Government grant to avoid increasing the council tax to hard pressed citizens together with the cash reducing efficient measures that have long been associated with West Mercia's excellent track record of value for money.
"The Police Authority, however, will be consulting with the Government and making them aware of the adverse financial consequences of paying the council tax freeze grant for only one year."
She added the authority had consistently ensured there were sufficient reserves, built up by prudent financial management, to help alleviate current financial difficulties.
"The Police Authority is, therefore, confident the financial position being handed over is a healthy one as the coming Police and
Crime Commissioner takes up post and considers the future policing priorities against a backcloth of future grant reductions."
Chief Constable David Shaw said the Making the Difference review had realised savings of £8million, with further ones of £1.8million to be achieved in 2013/14.
"The steps we have taken to address the funding gap over the medium term are helping us to maintain the strength of operational officer numbers as much as possible, while minimising any impact on the services we provide."
He added the strategic alliance that West Mercia had agreed to enter with Warwickshire Police provided a great opportunity for the two forces to work closer and share resources, whilst retaining its own sovereignty, finances, estates and identity.
"The alliance has been formed to increase efficiency and maximise police services in a time of substantial funding cuts."
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