Police set tax level

SUFFOLK Police Authority has agreed to increase its share of council tax bills by no more than 5 per cent following Government warnings of capping.The authority revealed last week that a 7pc hike in its council tax was needed to maintain police services at their current level.

SUFFOLK Police Authority has agreed to increase its share of council tax bills by no more than 5 per cent following Government warnings of capping.

The authority revealed last week that a 7pc hike in its council tax was needed to maintain police services at their current level.

But the Government wrote to authority chairman Christine Laverock, warning it would not tolerate council tax rises above 5pc and would cap any higher increases.

Authority members met yesterday agreed to set a council tax increase of between 4.5 and 5pc.

If the figure is set at 4.5pc, it will result in householders in the average band D properties paying just over 10p extra a week for policing.

Suffolk Chief Constable Alistair McWhirter told the meeting a tax increase set within these boundaries would ensure performance levels were maintained for 2005/06, but he warned he could not guarantee performance levels beyond that.

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Mrs Laverock added: "The police authority aims to ensure that the county's residents receive an effective and efficient policing service which meets both their needs and expectations.

"Getting the budget right is crucial to this aim. The setting of this year's budget is a major challenge in which we have to juggle giving the constabulary the money to continue its high performance and keeping the council tax increase to a minimum, while considering the financial situation in the years ahead – all against a backdrop of growing financial constraints."

The final decisions for next year's budget and the level of the police's share of the council tax will be made at the authority's next meeting on February 21.

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