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“Crisis of legitimacy” for Surrey PCC after his 5.5% increase in council tax precept is rejected by Police and Crime Panel and the public

February 8, 2021 4:24 PM

Paul Kennedy outside Guildford Police StationCllr Paul Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Surrey's Police and Crime Commissioner, has criticized the decision of Surrey's Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro to press ahead with a 5.5% increase in his council tax precept, ignoring the concerns of the Surrey Police and Crime Panel and the public.

The majority of the Panel voted to reject the proposed increase, but as two thirds of the Panel did not vote against the precept rise, there were insufficient votes to veto the rise. Earlier, the Commissioner had revealed that 51% of respondents to his consultation had also rejected his proposal.

The increase means that the current PCC, who was elected as a Conservative but is now independent, will have increased the police council tax precept by nearly 30% during his term.

Commenting on the decision, Paul Kennedy said:

"The decision to press ahead with another large increase, when so many people are suffering financially, is unprecedented and outrageous; it creates a further crisis of legitimacy of the Conservatives' deeply flawed and derided PCC model.

"We have a former Conservative PCC, at the end of the 5th year of his term, overriding the concerns of the public and the Panel, and obeying the orders of Priti Patel and the Conservative Government - imposing an inflation-busting increase on Surrey council tax payers, who already pay the highest share of police funding in the country.

Earlier Cllr Kennedy had challenged the PCC over his proposals, asking how he could justify such a large increase:

- when so many residents are suffering financially due to the pandemic

- when local councils, which have been hit much harder by the pandemic, have restricted their increases to less than 3%

- when the overall level of police funding is the same in real terms as it was in 2010, thanks to the already high level of the police council tax precept; and

- when the extra police investment the PCC is offering in return, after 5 years in post, frankly the PCC should already be providing.

Cllr Kennedy added:

"We all want to support our police. The Lib Dems and I support the extra investment in officers, victim support, rural crime and road safety, which my colleagues and I have been calling for. However, frankly after 5 years of council tax rises and minimal efficiency savings, we could and should be getting this already."