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Norfolk police boss to launch council tax consultation

Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829
Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829

Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, Stephen Bett, has announced plans to consult on a possible rise in council tax, despite a government U-turn over funding cuts.

During January, residents will be asked for their views on whether the police’s portion of the tax should be frozen or increased by up to two per cent.

The consultation will also include two public meetings in Norwich and King’s Lynn.

Latest government figures suggest the Norfolk force will have a budget of £146.5 million during the 2016-17 financial year, £1 million more than this year.

But, although ministers said they were scrapping severe cuts to budgets in November, that total will only be achieved if council tax is raised by the maximum two per cent allowed without calling a referendum.

Critics have accused the government of making a “shameful U-turn” on the issue.

And Mr Bett, whose current term of office will finish at May’s election, said the Norfolk force, which announced a review of its operations in September amid fears of more severe cuts, was not out of the woods yet.

He said: “There are still major financial pressures on the force as they carry the burden of past funding cuts, and the demands on our police continue to increase and crucially, to change.

“There is an unprecedented surge in demand in areas such as rape, serious sexual offences and child sexual exploitation as people feel more confident to come forward.

“Cybercrime is another area of serious growth for the constabulary – and an expensive one.

“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says Norfolk Constabulary is doing an outstanding job in managing its efficiencies, but there is much more to do.

“Before I make any decisions on whether to raise the precept I want to hear people’s views.

“I will be consulting throughout January and would urge people to have their say.”

The consultation will begin on Monday and run until January 29.

Public meetings will take place in the Norfolk County Council chamber at County Hall, Norwich on Wednesday, January 13 at 6.30pm and King’s Lynn’s town hall on Monday, January 18 at noon.

More information can be found at www.norfolk-pcc.gov.uk.

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