Worst part of job is proposing a tax increase to meet policing needs
I have the best job in the county. I also have the worst. The best part is the opportunity I have to meet people across our county.
A few weeks ago I met some great members of our community at the U3A in Hickling. Last week I spent a night on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich meeting young people, people sleeping rough, club managers, doormen and police; last week I hosted a public meeting in King’s Lynn attended by 93 people, was at Norwich Prison and attended a ceremony for new Special Constables. That is the part of the job.
The worst part? Having to contemplate proposing a tax increase to meet policing needs. The reality is certain priorities must be met, such as addressing child exploitation, sexual violence, domestic abuse, cybercrime, counter-terrorism. At the same time, our community tells me they want more visible policing; they want to feel safe. They want our roads to be safe, crime prevented and combatted and the scourge of big time drug dealers tackled.
I consulted on two options for the policing part of your Council Tax. I asked whether you would be prepared to pay approximately 2pc extra or whether you wanted a freeze. After launching in Great Yarmouth the consultation went across Norfolk. The voice of the public was clear; our fellow citizens, by a margin of 76pc to 24pc, were prepared to pay more for their police force.
I heard from the Chief Constable on the challenges he faces. However, it is no easy thing for taxpayers when they are asked to bear an additional burden to sustain, and hopefully improve, crime prevention and fighting. I was very mindful of this in coming to my decision.
After carefully consideration I took the difficult decision to raise the police precept by just under 2pc, increasing Band D tax by £4.23pa, or around 8p a week. It was a tough call.