Shropshire

West Mercia Police Authority agrees council tax freeze

West Mercia Police Authority has set its budget for the coming financial year amid central government cuts.

The authority said it needs £205.6m for 2011-12 and it will not be increasing the policing element of council tax.

The force has seen a 17% reduction in its main government grant over the next four years which has resulted in a £14.7m funding gap in 2011-12 alone.

A spokesman for the authority said it would be pooling resources with the Warwickshire force to save some money.

The force said the decision to not increase the council tax level was taken "in line with government wishes".

Sheila Blagg, chairman of the police authority, said: "We set the budget for the best possible level of service in the context of the assessment of the financial situation over the next four years.

"Using some of our reserves means that we can achieve a more measured downsizing, so the impact on policing services in 2011/12 will be minimised by comparison with many other forces."

She added the funding gap was also being addressed through restricting recruitment, cash savings, a "root and branch" review of the force and the use of reserves.

'Difficult decisions'

But she warned the authority and force faced some "difficult decisions".

"Reserves can only be used once," she said.

"That is why we are looking at other ways of working in order to continue to provide high quality services. We are committing ourselves to a potential significant pooling of resources with Warwickshire to make further efficiencies.

"We believe Warwickshire has a similar culture and is facing similar policing demands to ourselves which means that savings can be more quickly realised."

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