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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

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Police tax under fire

THE leader of Northumberland County Council has criticised the new police and crime commissioner for tabling an above inflation council tax precept increase without consultation.

Coun. Jeff Reid said he felt newly appointed Vera Baird had produced the 3.5 per cent hike “like a rabbit from a hat” without the knowledge of council leaders.

After years of struggling to freeze council tax bills, council leaders across the Northumbria Police force area are said to be furious about the increase, which was due before a meeting of the police and crime panel on Wednesday.

“In the past, the police authority had council members on it, so there was at least a transfer of knowledge between the two,” said Coun. Reid. “But this has been announced without any conversation at all and without any reference to how the increase would benefit policing in rural areas.”

The rise would cost council tax band D residents just under 6p extra per week or £2.93 per year.

Mrs Baird said: “It is regrettable to put forward any increase at difficult economic times like this.

“However, the Government has slashed Northumbria Police funding by 20 per cent over four years.”