Would you pay more council tax to save jobs at Avon and Somerset Constabulary?
NEARLY 230 jobs could be axed at Avon and Somerset Constabulary as police struggle to cope in the face of impending cuts.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens is consulting residents across the force area on the possibility of raising council tax in 2014/2015 to offset budget cuts of around £15 million over the next two years.
The PCC froze the share of council tax residents pay towards policing, known as its precept, for the year 2013/2014 but continuing to do so would place 228 jobs at risk.
As part of the online survey, Ms Mountstevens, who will have to submit a draft budget to the Police and Crime Panel in February 2014, is asking taxpayers whether they wish the police precept to remain frozen or would be willing to fork out between £3 and £16 extra per year to safeguard services.
Various options are listed, including raising council tax bills by two per cent, four per cent, six per cent, eight per cent or ten per cent. Failing to increase it by at least two percent, or £3.36 per year, for the average Band D household would mean axing 228 officers and PCSO posts.
A hike of ten percent, or £16.80 annually, would still mean losing 51 officers and PCSOs across the forces.
PCC Sue Mountstevens said: "It is really important to me that local communities get the chance to have their say on the policing part of the council tax.
"I know from speaking to residents that there are many people on fixed incomes struggling with household bills. "Every resident will have a view and it is only by hearing from as many local people as possible that I can make my decision."
If the PCC chose to raise the tax by two per cent or more, she would be obliged to hold a force-wide referendum, a move which would cost £1 million to the taxpayer.
The consultation ends on September 29. To take part in the survey go on www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police.uk
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