Harlow Labour warned today that residents in Harlow and across Essex are at risk of being misled into paying more for much needed increases in local policing as a result of the survey conducted by Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Roger Hirst.
The Essex Police Precept Survey invited residents to have their say on whether they were happy to pay more in exchange for investment in Essex Police.
5,044 people across the entire County expressed their opinions in the Survey and of these, 65% supported lifting the cap on the policing element of the council tax, should the government agree to the change.
Chris Vince, Labour’s PCC Candidate in 2016 and candidate for Great Parndon in this year’s local elections said; “There is absolutely no dispute about the fact that we urgently need investment in Essex’s police force. Across Harlow we have seen police officers vanish from our streets and this is leaving local residents rightly concerned.
“What we do dispute is the suggestion that the findings of this Survey demonstrate a groundswell of public support for an increase in council tax to pay for it, or that this should be used to justify central government waving through an increase.
“In Essex there are 1.3 million residents and of these, just over 5,000 completed the Survey. As a maths teacher, I can tell you this represents significantly less than 1% of the population. Furthermore, of this tiny percentage, only two thirds said they would be willing to see the cap on council tax lifted to pay for additional policing.
“The burden of additional investment in policing should not fall on the shoulders of residents who already pay around £160 a year towards its cost if they are on Band D council tax. It should fall fairly and squarely on the shoulders of central government.
“Commissioner Hirst is playing tag team with Theresa May on this and people should know about it. The Tory government is refusing to invest in our vital public services, “forcing” her local representatives to come to her, as Roger Hirst is doing now, seemingly with the support of residents, asking for permission to increase council tax. The government approves the increase and hey presto, the burden shifts onto hard working families and individuals.
“This country’s public services are crumbling, but the answer is not to increase council tax so that the poor are hit disproportionately hard for services the entire country needs and benefits from.
“The answer is a progressive tax system in which corporations and the very wealthy make fair contributions to the benefit of everyone. Harlow Council, under Labour’s control, will continue to push for this and protect the rights of our residents from the devastating effects of Conservative policies from both county and central government.”
Harlow’s Labour controlled Council has recently announced plans to recruit three Community Safety Officers (CSOs) specifically to respond to residents’ concerns about anti-social behaviour. These will be funded from revenues raised from bringing services delivered by the Kier Group in house.