Lancashire’s first candidate for the new post of Police Commissioner says a 2.5% increase in Council Tax to cover the police spending shortfall is “an insult to the hard-working public”.
Ribble Valley businessman Kevin Horkin now wants assurances that the extra money – equivalent to £3 on everyone’s Council Tax bill across the county – will spare vital front-line policing staff from being savaged by budget cuts.
“It sets a very worrying precedent,” he said. “We all now have to find an extra £3, what if it’s an extra £10 next year?
“The decision of Lancashire Police Authority shows total disregard for the public at a time when we are all watching the pennies. It’s an insult to the hard-working public.”
Lancashire Police Authority voted to add extra to Council Tax bills to allow Chief Constable Steve Finnigan to spend more on policing.
Mr Horkin, who announced last month that he is the first to run for election as the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, says he sympathises with the Chief Constable but that the public deserve assurances.
“He has a very tough job to do, but it is vital that police officer numbers are not cut and they remain highly visible, both for public confidence and the credibility of the force,” said Mr Horkin.
“Will the Chief Constable now remove the axe which is hanging over the men and women who wear the uniform of the Lancashire Constabulary, the people at the very frontline of policing?”
Before the Police Authority meeting, Chief Constable Finnigan admitted cuts of £43m. over the next four years had already begun to hit police services in the county. He also said the cuts would make it harder to reduce crime.
If elected as Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Horkin believes a fresh pair of eyes will shine new light on important public issues.
“We are all experiencing hard times right now. There are cuts right across local government. In the private sector, business owners like me are having to make some very tough decisions,” he said.
“However, it is always prudent to ensure certain things must be ring-fenced and protected. The public want to see more police officers on the beat and they want to engage with a police force which is willing to listen to their concerns.
“If elected, I will look at everything with new eyes, I will oversee a fresh approach to policing and I will question everything.”
Elections for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner will be held in November.