South Wales Police council tax precept rise agreed
THE amount of money people in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot contribute to policing is to rise by seven per cent this year.
The changes will mean a typical Band D household in the South Wales Police area paying £181 a year towards the force.
The increase was proposed by police commissioner Alun Michael, and approved by members of the police panel by 10 votes to two at yesterday's meeting. Mr Michael said the increase was the minimum that was needed.
He told the meeting: "I would be irresponsible if I came forward with a smaller increase than this.
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"I do not want the burden on local people to be any higher then it has to be.
"Even after this increase, South Wales will have by far the lowest precept of the four Welsh forces."
Mr Michael pointed out that over the last decade the former South Wales Police Authority had voted for low precept increases, which effectively meant that the force had "lost" £141million in potential investment compared to the other Welsh forces — in Gwent Police the current Band D precept is £193.09, in Dyfed-Powys it is £198.54 and in North Wales it is £214.56.
Mr Michael said the money raised by the seven per cent increase would enable the force to keep 40 PCSOs who were under threat due to a changes in grants, and allow for the creation of a £1million community partnership fund to help tackle issues like antisocial behaviour. Members of the panel raised concerns about the increase, especially at a time when many people were struggling financially.
Neath Port Talbot Council leader Ali Thomas said any increase would be felt hard, and that it might mean "the difference between buying a loaf and bread and not buying it".
He also questioned whether the Welsh Government would cap any increase over five per cent.
Pauline Jarman, a Plaid councillor on Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, called the seven per cent increase "inhuman" and tried to get the proposal vetoed.
Swansea councillor Pearleen Sangha said five out of 10 of the most deprived wards in Wales were in the city, but that she was in favour of the increase, adding: "In my view we need the PCSOs."
Last week Dyfed-Powys Police commissioner Christopher Salmon increased the council tax precept there by of 3.9 per cent, and added that he wanted to bring rises into line with inflation over the next four years.
Three quarters of funding for the four Welsh forces comes from the Home Office — either directly or via the Welsh Government — with the remainder being raised locally.