Anger over tax rises

PROTESTERS in Suffolk were left fuming today after it emerged that the county's police authority could increase its element of council tax bills by almost 16 per cent.

PROTESTERS in Suffolk were left fuming today after it emerged that the county's police authority could increase its element of council tax bills by almost 16 per cent.

As revealed in later editions of Saturday's Evening Star, Suffolk Police Authority may demand a 15.8pc increase in its element of council tax from April.

This massive increase is in stark contrast to Suffolk County Council, which is planning to increase its element of council tax bills by just 3.9pc.

And districts in Suffolk are aiming to bring in rises between 2.8 and 5pc.

The police authority will hear this week that the rise would be necessary for it to achieve its budget for the next financial year.

And its treasurer warns there could be more inflation-busting increases, of 23.8pc and 13pc in the following two years. These rises would come on top of an increase of 33pc last April.

Most Read

But police authority members have been warned that the government could step in and cap these increases.

However they believe they may be able to argue against this because recently-commissioned local opinion polls suggested residents wanted more money spent on policing.

The government has told the authority: There are no general criteria for council tax limits but the position of each police authority will be considered on its individual merits – this will certainly take the budget figure into account as well as the precept increase."

Council tax protester Reg Hartles of PACTS (Protest Against Council Tax in Suffolk) was disappointed to hear of the likely increase – especially after a meeting his members had held with the police authority had been promising.

"It is very disappointing if they do go for a rise like that. When we met them earlier this month I really thought they had taken our concerns on board," he said.

"We shall certainly keep up our campaign against council tax rises – this kind of increase is just not acceptable.

"They mentioned the MORI poll, and said people wanted more resources spent on policing – but they did not ask people whether they were prepared to spend that much more on them," he added.

Suffolk Police Authority Chairman Christine Laverock issued a statement saying: "The public indicated their wanted the assurance of seeing more police officers in Suffolk – and were prepared to pay to maintain or improve policing services in the county.

"By the end of this financial year we should have more than 1,300 police officers in the ranks – the highest number in the force's history."

Although council tax bills would increase by 15.8pc, the budget of the authority would increase by 7.37pc.

The percentage difference is because the government funding for the police authority – the largest part of its budget – is going up by only 2.7pc.

The police authority element of council tax is only about 10pc of the total – so an increase of 15.8pc will only add just over 1pc to total bills.

A 15.8pc rise from the police authority would add £13.41 a year to the annual bill of a Band B property – the most common council tax banding in Suffolk.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter