MEMBERS of the county’s police and crime panel have dealt the crime commissioner a body blow by refusing to back his budget proposals.
Today at Winchester councillors insisted any cash boost from a hike in council tax goes directly to policing.
Panel members unanimously voted to say the £12-a-year increase for Band D homes - which they approved - should go on ‘police officers and staff’ - not on the commissioner’s office.
Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Michael Lane had asked the panel to support his recommendation, which included an extra £440,000 for his office.
But independent panel member Bob Purkiss put forward an alternative proposal after concerns were made about the cash to the crime commissioner’s office.
Mr Purkiss’ Motion said: ‘We don’t support the recommendation as outlined in the report before us and ask for our concerns and those of the public are taken into account and any increase in funding is put directly and only in retaining and enhancing police officers and staff.’
Councillors unanimously supported the amendment, which did not veto Mr Lane’s budget but did not support it.
It means the crime commissioner will still be able to increase council tax - but has been told he should spend it only on police staff and officers.
The budget plans axe £7m from staffing, including 160 police officers and staff, including 20 traffic cops.
Speaking after the vote, Mr Lane said he thanked councillors for their ‘heartfelt observations’.
‘I will reflect hard on what you’ve chosen to do today and what you have one by one said to me under this item.
‘I’ll take very seriously what you have done to me on behalf of the communities that you’ve heard from.’
During the meeting panel members, made up of local councils and independent members, raised concerns about the hike in Mr Lane’s office, which was first revealed in The News.
Havant councillor Leah Turner told the meeting: ‘Residents are not against the increase in the precept but they’re very unhappy whilst paying this increase in precept they’re also going to have a reduction in police officers.
‘I have been inundated with questions and comments from residents.’
During the meeting, Fareham councillor Trevor Cartwright said the provison of neighbourhood policing was ‘pathetically poor’ as it was underfunded.
The meeting heard Mr Lane’s office was the cheapest to run in England and Wales, and made up less than one per cent of Hampshire police’s budget.
Gosport councillor John Beavis supported the amendment by Mr Purkiss.
After the meeting Cllr Beavis said: ‘The public need to know the money that they’re paying is going on policing and providing them that support in their community and making them feel safer.’
Speaking after the meeting, Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter said: ‘I’m grateful that the police and crime panel have listened to not only my concerns but the concerns of members of the public who have demanded that any increase in council tax must be spent on frontline policing.
‘Hampshire Constabulary are in a difficult place financially so it would be wholly inappropriate for the police and crime commissioner to have used any of the increase in council tax to pay for extra staff for his own office, which is why I thank the police and crime panel for doing what the public and my colleagues would expect them to do, which is to ensure common sense prevails.’