At the first Police and Crime Panel (PCP) meeting in Clevedon on Monday, December 10, Commissioner Sue Mountstevens discussed her decision not to appoint a deputy and her plans to freeze the policing part of the council tax.
The PCP is made up of 15 councillors, representing all the local authorities in the Avon and Somerset police area, plus three independent members. It is the Panel’s job to scrutinise Ms Mountstevens, who in turn, holds the constabulary to account.
The Commissioner’s Chief Financial Officer Mark Simmonds presented the draft budget proposals to the PCP which included taking a Government grant equivalent to a one per cent rise, in exchange for a council tax freeze. This means the policing bill for a Band D-rated household will remain at £168.03, or £3.23 per week for policing. Mr Simmonds told the panel that the draft budget for 2013/14 is balanced, but is subject to Government funding being confirmed next week.
At the meeting in North Somerset Council’s Castlewood Offices Ms Mountstevens warned that accepting freezing grants from the Government is storing up problems for the future. She said rate rises may be considered in order to protect frontline policing, in light of the fact that Avon and Somerset is unfairly funded compared to other police force areas.
"I cannot see it being sustainable year upon year, because we're eating away at the resources for the police. With further reductions expected from the government in the future my priority will be balancing the budget and making the savings required of us.
“I will also not give up fighting for a fairer deal for this area. We lose £20 million we are assessed to need every year and I will make sure every Minister and MP knows that this is not something that I will accept.
“If we are required to make further savings I cannot rule out consulting residents on possible rises to the policing part of the council tax in the future.”
Ms Mountstevens confirmed to the PCP that she currently has no immediate plans to appoint a deputy. She also fielded a number of questions from panel members including questions about the recruitment process for a new Chief Constable. The job is currently being advertised and the Ms Mountstevens is hoping to have appointed a new leader by the second week of January.
The PCP is chaired by North Somerset Cllr Nigel Ashton, the other panel members are William Wallace (Somerset County); Stuart Dowding (West Somerset); John Parham (Mendip); Mark Edwards (Taunton Deane); John Swayne (Sedgemoor); Tony Lock (South Somerset); Lisa Brett and Francine Haeberling (both B&NES); Justin Howells and Mike Drew (both South Glos); Pete Levy, Doug Naysmith and Jeff Lovell (Bristol) Roz Willis (North Somerset); independent members Brenda Steel, Rosa Hui and Roger Kinsman.
The PCP can make reports or recommendations (including vetoing with a two-thirds majority) about the proposals by the PCC on the level of the precept (council tax charge for the police) and appointing a Chief Constable.
For more details on the Police and Crime Panel
Posted on Monday 10th December 2012