Northamptonshire residents will be paying more from this April for their police and fire services after a local tax rise was agreed.
Members of the Police and Crime Panel yesterday (February 5) approved Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold’s request to charge taxpayers more.
The extra increase will cost a band D household an extra £24 a year for policing and £1.76 extra a year for the fire service.
This is the first time commissioner Mold has levied a fire precept after taking over the running of the Northamptonshire fire service this January.
At the meeting he told the panel he had not wanted to increase the police precept by the new government allowed maximum of £2 per month but he said it was necessary.
He said: “This is one of the hardest decisions I have had to take as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and one that I do not take lightly. Each day my office receives correspondence from concerned residents who want to see more visible policing in communities across the county, both urban and rural. We also hear from people who feel they have not received the level of service from the force that they would expect.
“Raising taxes is not something I came into public office to do. However, I did promise the people of Northamptonshire that I would work to deliver a safer and more secure county and that I would do everything in my power to protect, and if possible increase the number of frontline police officers.”
Labour councillor for Northampton Gareth Eales had suggested the panel use its powers to veto the £24 increase but Cllr Mary Butcher said in the face of no extra income from central government the money would have to come from local residents.
She said: “What we need to do as a panel is look after the residents. If not getting the fairness of protection for their families it is our duty to put that in. This is the price of a pint of milk. I don’t agree with anybody increasing council tax but we need to face facts – we will not get this money from anywhere else.”
The extra local tax will help increase the 2019/20 police budget increase to £130m. £3m of this will be ring fenced to be spent on priority areas such as more visible policing, burglary prevention, street crime and rural crime.
However the commissioner, who has been in post since May 2016 and whose role is to hold the police force to account on behalf of the public, could not put a figure on how many extra police officers the extra income would pay for. He said he would be able to announce this in April after coming up with a joint plan with chief constable Nick Adderley.
The commissioner also unveiled at the meeting a new three-year plan for the fire service which will see an investment in new fire engines and equipment.
He said there had been ‘dark times’ before taking over the service from Northamptonshire County Council and he had wondered whether the takeover was worth the potential reputational risk to himself.
He said his new budget will mean the biggest investment in the fire service in recent years.
Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service