There is a full Elmbridge council meeting tonight and on our agenda is an item requiring us to authorise the re-billing of all of our residents in order to reduce their Council Tax for the current year.
Now I’m all in favour of tax cuts, but not this one. What has happened is that Surrey Police set a “precept” – their share of the Council Tax – higher than the maximum allowed by the Government. They felt they had no choice about this because of the cuts forced on them by central government. The Government then responded by capping their budget, forcing the re-issuing of all Council Tax bills across Surrey at a cost to the police authority of £1.2 million.
The effect of this is that 47 police jobs will be lost. This will be done by not filling posts as they fall vacant. It will stretch the existing force and will hit neighbourhood policing particularly hard.
Surrey Police have the support of the local community. They have promised to take policing strategy decisions in the interests of Surrey residents and not in order to keep up to targets set for them by central Government. So I think I could be forgiven for concluding that the Labour Party’s decision to cap their budget was motivated at least in part by spite.
We as a Council are obliged by law to pass this motion. We will do so through gritted teeth. “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”? Another hollow Labout promise, another soundbite, another gimmick. Only 10 months to go now and we can get rid of this shower.