Council tax set to rise in face of budget cuts

Chief constable Neil Rhodes with Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick.
Chief constable Neil Rhodes with Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick.

However, Alan Hardwick admitted council taxpayers could be left to foot the bill for plugging the deficit.

In another blow to hard-up families, they could face increases in council tax bills to cover potentially devastating cuts in Government funding to East Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council.

Mr Hardwick described the £3 million reduction in the police budget as ‘grossly unfair’.

He dismissed speculation the number of officers would be reduced to balance the books.

In a grim warning, he did not rule out the possibility of the axe falling on officers in 2016 if further cuts are made.

The Government grant for policing across the county was expected to be £62.2 million but the figure announced last week was £59 million.

Regarding the reduction, Mr Hardwick said: “We were preparing for the worst case scenario but this is more than we expected.

“It makes it more difficult to maintain the current level of service.

“The thin blue line is getting thinner but I am very hopeful that there will not be any cuts next year.

“But I cannot make a longer-term commitment. There are no guarantees at all.

“Obviously, if we had to lose 200-plus officers (in future) then that would have an effect on the service we provide.”

Mr Hardwick described an increase in council tax bills as ‘unfortunate but necessary’.

He added: “We are being penalised because we are a successful force.

“We have been praised by the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and HM’s Inspector. You can’t get higher praise than that.

“We have made cuts and we have shown that we can still be a very effective and efficient force.

“Other forces haven’t got out of the starting blocks yet in terms of making cuts. That’s why we are being penalised for being successful.

“We need a level playing field in terms of funding. That is simply not happening. It is grossly unfair.”

Mr Hardwick revealed Home Secretary Theresa May had promised to visit Lincolnshire in the New Year to discuss funding.

Both he and Chief Constable Neil Rhodes have written to the Government, warning further cuts could make policing the county ‘unsustainable’.

It is understood council tax bills could rise around £4 next year to pay for policing, it is understood.

The average Band D household currently pays around £193. However, there could be increases in levies to the county council, district council and parish councils.