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Council tax to rise by more than £15 to pay for policing in Gwent

THE amount people pay in council tax towards policing in Gwent will increase by more than £15 in the next financial year, it has been confirmed.

Jeff Cuthbert, Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner, has accepted a recommendation to increase the police precept by 5.5 per cent from April.

The increase will equate to a band D property across Gwent paying £303.80 towards policing, an increase of £15.84 per year.

A five per cent increase was originally put forward, but this was vetoed by the Gwent Police and Crime Panel in January in favour of a 5.5 per cent rise.

The higher increase in precept will reduce the budget’s forecast deficit for next year from £2.5 million to £2.2 million.

At a Gwent Police and Crime Panel meeting on Friday, Mr Cuthbert accepted the panel’s veto and recommendation.

Mr Cuthbert said the panel had recognised “the difficult balance” needed between recognising the financial impact on council tax payers and maintaining the force’s staffing levels in setting the precept.

The precept rise will contribute to Gwent Police recruiting an additional 10 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) next year, taking the total to 172 in the force.

At the meeting, Mr Cuthbert also announced a review of the force’s estates strategy will start before the new financial year and is expected to conclude by June.

The commitment comes after the crime panel raised concerns about the cost of borrowing, particularly in relation to implementing the estate strategy.

Cllr Colin Mann welcomed the review, adding the amount of money proposed to be borrowed over future years, and the cost of paying it back, was a concern.

“It’s crucial to manage that capital programme and make sure it doesn’t cost a penny more than it has to in the future because the cost of paying back is substantial,” he said.

Cllr Mann also said council tax payers were under “immense pressure” due to rises in the costs of living.

Amanda Blakeman, deputy chief constable of Gwent Police, said the force was aware of “how difficult and challenging it is for families across our communities”.

Ms Blakeman said money would be invested back into communities, with the force recruiting locally and expanding opportunities.

Cllr John Killick called for assurance the additional £300,000 raised from the higher precept rise would be used to mitigate any future cutbacks.

Mr Cuthbert confirmed the force “will not be cutting front-line resources”, and that it is continuing to build police officer and PCSO numbers.

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Council tax to rise by more than £15 to pay for policing in Gwent

blue flashing lights on police car