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Town hall to cover policing bill

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COUNCIL bosses have stood by their pledge to freeze council tax for all Wigan residents and will absorb an increase in household policing bills.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd unveiled plans yesterday to add £5 to the bills of average properties to offset police budget cuts.

But council leader Lord Peter Smith told the Evening Post that borough residents will not be affected by an increase.

He said: “We’ve committed to freezing council tax as part of our new Wigan Deal with residents. If other services want to increase what they charge the public, then we will cut our charge to ensure the overall bill the public pays does not go up.

“We’ve decided to do this – despite our own significant budget challenges - because we know the financial difficulties families across the borough face and we want to show our commitment to the Wigan Deal.

“We hope the public will respond by helping us save money by doing things like recycling more, using our online services, and volunteering in their communities.”

The proposed increase in the police precept comes as Mr Lloyd said Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is “standing at the edge of a cliff” because of budget cuts.

Mr Lloyd said: “I have warned since before I was elected that the Government’s reckless programme of cuts is endangering community safety.

“The Chief Constable has told me that he cannot provide the levels of policing that people expect and deserve if this programme of cuts goes beyond 2017. There simply will not be enough money in the pot.”

The precept is included in council tax bills but is listed separately and set by the force instead of local authorities.

A spokesman for the commissioner told the Evening Post that it was not Mr Lloyd’s intention to take funds away from any public service and emphasised that the precept is a separate part of the bill.

Mr Lloyd, who was elected as Greater Manchester’s first PCC in 2012, said that since 2010, GMP has lost a quarter of its budget with more cuts to come. The increase is expected to generate £3.3m which will be spent on neighbourhood policing.

It will mean that 50 new police officers will be recruited to neighbourhood teams, reducing the numbers lost by the force next year from 350 to 300.

The increase would work out at less than 10p a week for a band D house. Other precepts included in council tax bills include fire service and public transport contributions.

 

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