Blue line may get even thinner

POLICE services across North Somerset cannot be guaranteed next year, it has been warned. Police authority member Arthur Terry says the constabulary is struggling to balance its books as it expects a £6millon gap in its budget. At a North Somerset Counc

POLICE services across North Somerset cannot be guaranteed next year, it has been warned. Police authority member Arthur Terry says the constabulary is struggling to balance its books as it expects a £6millon gap in its budget.At a North Somerset Council meeting, Councillor Terry said: "We will be looking at services but we are struggling to impose these savings without affecting services. I cannot give you any guarantees about that."After the meeting the police authority's chairman, Dr Moira Hamlin, said: "Questions were asked at the council meeting about Avon and Somerset Constabulary's finances next year and Cllr Terry expressed our concerns about the expected budget shortfall of around £6million."This is a real issue we are facing and the constabulary and authority will be carefully analysing the budget over the coming weeks."However, until the Government announces what the police financial settlement will be, which we are expecting next week, we are not in a position to comment any further at this stage."Over the past two years, Avon and Somerset has received over £22million less than it was assessed as needing, to allow for all forces to have a minimum grant increase."We at the police authority and the constabulary have and continue to lobby our local MPs and Government to get fairer funding for our force."Last year the police authority's budget was roughly £250million, and this year it expects to need around £261million. Initial estimates suggest that if the authority receives a two per cent increase in its Government grant and raises last year's precept, which was £147.17 for a band D property, by three per cent, it will have around £255million. The police authority has been carrying out a public consultation on what the public wants from its police force next year. The outcomes from this will go towards shaping the 2008/09 budget.The authority and constabulary will be working together over the coming weeks to carry out a detailed analysis of the budget next year, with the recommendations going before the police authority finance committee in February.The recommendations will then go to the full authority for approval in February 2008.Earlier this year the council refused a request made by chief superintendent Kay Wozniak and chief inspector Nick Walker for £211,000 to pay for police community support officers. The North Somerset Times tried to contact Chief Supt Kay Wozniak for comment but she had not responded at the time of going to press.


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