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Taxpayer Comes First

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This year's budget setting meeting was a tough one. Police Authority members unanimously made a decision last week to accept a Government grant of £2.6million rather than increase the council tax precept. It's such a tough time for families and we really had to consider them and the burden that an increase would carry.

The average band D household will pay £2.67 a week for their policing service, one of the lowest police council tax rates in the country.

There was an interesting comment on the BBC last week about the Authority taking out £20miilion from this year's budget. Actually this is not the case. As part of the Government cuts we are currently in the second year of a four year plan to save £50million.

Last year we had to find £7million, this year it will be £20million, which is going to be a hard task. Then it will be £12million, and £13million, respectively through to 2015. So all we're doing really is managing a reducing budget as well as we can.

Also last week I had an interesting meeting with our new Kent and Essex Director of Support Services, Mark Gilmartin. He has been tasked with looking at how support services within Kent and Essex could fit into one directorate. Its early days - he's only been in post for a week - but we are hoping for some financial quick wins as well as longer term benefits.

Thursday of last week saw a group of us from Kent Police Authority attend a Home Office event on Police and Crime Commissioners. The event was aimed at raising awareness of the changes ahead and to put more flesh on the bones. What it did really reassure me was that we are extremely well placed in Kent for a seamless transition.