Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting HT NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Bill Longmore pledges council tax freeze
POLICE and crime commissioner Bill Longmore has pledged to freeze council tax bills this year - admitting a public outcry had helped make his mind up.
West Mercia Police’s elected boss will peg the force’s portion of the council tax rise to zero, offering some welcome cheer to hard-pressed households.
Last month he raised the prospect of a two per cent rise from April, but since then more than 1,000 letters and emails have flooded into his office, with 70 per cent against it.
The force could have raked in £1.6 million from the increase, but decided against it following the correspondence.
Mr Longmore said: “We are trying to manage the finances so we’re not in a position where we have to put the council tax precept up.
“Many people said they didn’t want to see a rise so our conclusion was, let’s leave that money with people and not take it.
“We need to all go forward together, that includes the wider community and councils.”
The police only takes in 12 per cent of the council tax bill, with the rest going to the fire service, Worcestershire County Council and other district councils.
As your Worcester News reported last month 140 front line police officer jobs are being axed as part of a plan to save £20 million.
Bosses say they are hoping the jobs cull will be complete by April, and if so they could be in a position to start recruiting if any further staff leave beyond that point.
West Mercia Police has launched an alliance with Warwickshire Police aimed at saving a combined £31 million by 2016, which includes 450 civilian job losses.
The council tax freeze is subject to feedback from the watchdog-style police and crime panel, which is meeting on Tuesday at County Hall from 2pm.
Mr Longmore has also revealed that announcements on proposed police station closures won't be made until the end of February.
* For more on this story, see your Worcester News tomorrow.