HARLOW Labour has again voiced its concerns that residents are set to pick up the hefty tab for policing due to a 7.62% increase in the policing precept imposed by Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst.
It also expressed anger that Commissioner Hirst had not responded to a letter expressing these concerns from Labour’s Church Langley candidate, Jake Shepherd.
Jake Shepherd wrote to Commissioner Hirst on February 7 and was advised that he would receive a response to his letter “within 20 working days”. However as of close of business on March 7, no reply had been received.
Jake Shepherd said today; “It is a matter of public record, that since 2014/15, Essex Police has seen a cut of £11.7 million in its allocation of funds from the National Police Grant.
“It is my concern that because the overall budget for Essex Police is formed approximately two thirds by the Government grant and one third by local Council Tax, there will be consequences for Harlow’s residents.
“One of the very real consequences, other than the completely unacceptable prospect of further cuts to policing, is a sizable increase to residents’ Council Tax as we effectively “foot the bill” for our own safety.”
Although Harlow Council collects residents’ Council Tax, last year it only kept around £16 of every £100 collected, whereas £10 from every £100 collected went to Essex’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC).
Jake Shepherd said; “In 2017-18, the policing precept (the Essex Police component of Council Tax) increased by 3.25% from the previous year.
“However, this year the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Panel approved a 7.62% increase in the policing precept for 2018/19.
“In my letter, I asked Commissioner Hirst to confirm that the table below detailing the increases in Council Tax is accurate. If it is, then people need to be prepared because many will not be expecting an increase thanks to Harlow Council’s freeze on its part of their council tax bill. It is worth noting that this has been achieved whilst also managing to fund three new Community Safety Officers to compensate for cuts made by Essex Police.”
“I feel strongly that residents should be made well aware of the increase and they should be told how their contribution will be spent. From my many conversations on the door step, I’m sure they will want to see what they are getting for their money because police visibility is a major concern.
“More to the point, whilst the promise from Commissioner Hirst that “three-quarters of all additional money raised through the police element of local Council Tax…[will be]…invested in local policing” is positive news for residents, surely it isn’t right that sustained cuts to police funding is leaving residents plugging the gap with their Council Tax contributions?”
“The lack of a response to my letter and of transparent communication to residents, demonstrates a clear absence of the accountability we are entitled to expect when we are asked to pay more for a public service.
“I will not let this matter drop and I will ensure that residents receive a straightforward explanation of how their money is being spent.”
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