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Police and Crime Commissioner wants cap on council tax rise scrapped to help meet demands on the force

Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has urged the Government to allow a 2% cap on council tax rises to be scrapped.

Police officers on patrol

Police officers on patrol

The current system means that Staffordshire Police cannot exceed the figure on their element of the tax bill paid by residents in Lichfield and Burntwood.

But Matthew Ellis says the challenges facing forces across the country means funding needs to be found.

Matthew Ellis

Matthew Ellis

“I’ve not called on Government for any more funding for policing since being elected in November 2012,” he said. “I’ve coped with budget reductions and taken the view that what was already there could be spent better.

“My office has worked closely with Staffordshire Police to achieve better use of the money which is why here, neighbourhood policing numbers were 434 in 2013 and are 440 now with no change to response officers.

“However, the world we are now living in, especially post the Manchester and London terrorist attacks, means it is not credible that current budgets can maintain the increased levels of police resources required for what is likely to be a long period in Staffordshire, and I’m sure elsewhere.”

Mr Ellis said the demands on local policing meant more resources were needed – but warned the focus on counter-terrorism must not overshadow other demands on the force.

He added: “Government I’m sure will review the wider counter terrorism resources on a national basis. However, locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners are accountable to their electorate, meaning we are best placed to know the needs of our specific areas and be directly accountable for the funding decisions we make. That was the whole principle around Police and Crime Commissioners.

“I froze the amount people paid in council tax towards policing every year in Staffordshire until this year, when the need to ensure new threats were met head on, meant I made a decision to increase.

“I have written to the Home Secretary today to suggest she considers this proposal around local funding for policing. It is for local Chief Constables to determine what resources are needed and I’m sure most Commissioners will have no issue with being accountable for the budget decisions they make.”

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  1. Rob B

    23rd June, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    During the recent election campaigns I’m fairly sure I saw numerous signs posted all around Staffordshire saying Keep Council Tax Low vote Conservative. Oh dear yet another Tory U-turn/lie/deception (delete as applicable)

  2. Nellygb

    23rd June, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    And I Mr Ellis would also like the company I work for to Increase my wages above the 0% rise I have received since you were elected in 2012. I’m sure you would agree the world is a more expensive place to live than 5 years ago.

  3. John Griffin

    23rd June, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    So let me get this straight. Tory government slashes central funds, aided and abetted by Tory councils and PCC. Tory council evades legal requirement for referendum on council tax by adding payments for stuff like bins. Now Tory PCC wants more taxpayer money. Tory still the small state less tax party. Or maybe they’re just hypocrites.

  4. Some Bloke

    23rd June, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Matthew’s role is politically neutral, although, yes, he is a member of, and campaigns for The Conservative Party.
    However, he is honest and has the balls to call it as he sees it. He should be supported in his call for more resources to protect the public.

  5. Darryl

    23rd June, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Well, where to begin.

    We didn’t vote for PCCs they were created by the Tory’s. There information on Mr Ellis’ website decrying the old Police Authority system saying it cost more than the new PCC system, sadly it’s very difficult to verify these claims, however, one unedyfying result of imposing PCCs is the politicisation of the police, where the Police Authority had nothing to do with the political parties.

    I’m vehemently against the police being politicised. It is a dangerous precedent, consequently I’m totally against the PCCs. They should be abolished immediately and replaced with a representative body. Mr Ellis’ website may call them “an unelected quango” but that is precisely the point.

    Having the direction of the police dictated by political party policy is inherently dangerous and debases the core belief of the policing system.

    And now we’re here.

    Mr Ellis says the extra money is needed to ensure the counter terrorism bill is funded, this is particularly grating as the Conservatives have overseen the largest fall in active police officers in decades. He states that

    “I froze the amount people paid in council tax towards policing every year in Staffordshire until this year, when the need to ensure new threats were met head on, meant I made a decision to increase.”

    You didn’t freeze the council tax, your lack of increase came from the central government imposing austerity.

    Can people see why politicising the police is an extremely bad idea?

    Now Theresa May wants to be strong for the police, a previous Home Secretary who told the Police Federation to “do more with less” and “get onboard or get out” in a belligerent speech in Birmingham. Do we really believe this increase is Mr Ellis’ doing or driven by central government policy due to recent events? Who knows and therein is the problem in putting a party political in charge of the police.

    PCCs should be disbanded immediately.

    On a final note:

    “I’ve not called on Government for any more funding for policing since being elected in November 2012,” he said. “I’ve coped with budget reductions and taken the view that what was already there could be spent better.”

    What have you done? Apart from fannying around with cadets, what have you done?

  6. Darryl

    23rd June, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    @Some Bloke

    Could you expand on your comment:

    “Matthew’s role is politically neutral, although, yes, he is a member of, and campaigns for The Conservative Party.”

    Aside from the contradiction, his website is plastered in Conservative logos.

    Hardly neutral and who’s there to follow him round and audit his neutrality?

  7. The Scribbler

    23rd June, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Politically neutral…ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
    Mr Ellis is very strongly Conservative.
    His deputy also stood for the Conservatives in Walsall South in the 2015 General Election.
    That’s hardly an unbiased leadership.

    The PCC concept was wrong to begin with and nothing that has happened since has suggested it has been a success.

    The police does need extra funding. Mainly, its needed because of the cuts they continue to endure thanks to Mr Ellis’ party’s austerity measures.

    And before anyone suggests that austerity is necessary because of the poor economic performance of the Labour government, I’d like to clarify how long that excuse can be peddled?
    Huge mistakes were made by Blair and Brown. We’ve all had to pay for them.
    But Cameron and Osborne and now May and Hammond have done little to improve the dire economic state we’re in – in fact we’re worse off, whereas other countries seem to be enjoying much healthier economic environments.

  8. Some Bloke

    23rd June, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Hi Darryl,
    thanks for you reply. I concede that Matthew is a conservative politician, but acts neutrally in his role – ie, don’t have a problem with standing up to a Tory Home Secretary. He PCC website isn’t plastered in logos.

    Also the old Police Authority was political. It was filled with mainly political appointees. Who nobody voted into that role.

    The engagement of the governance has increased under this system. When you say nobody voted for the PCC, can I just clarify? I think you’ll find hardly anyone voted (particularly in Staffordshire) – the turnout was incredibly low!

    Everything is political, surely? Especially priority in public protection. The PCC will not exert control over operational policing – that is a red line. However local policing priorities has to be political and the best way of doing it is a direct vote and a PCC accountable to the public.

    I’ll leave it Matthew to defend his record. He is well able to stand up for himself.

  9. Some Bloke

    23rd June, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I’d have loved to have seen more candidates standing for the role of PCC. Get a real debate going.
    Interest was so low I reckon anyone turning up in an Audi Quattro and said : “I’m Gene Hunt. Your PCC. And it’s 1973. Nearly dinner time. I’m ‘aving hoops” would have stood a chance

  10. Darryl

    23rd June, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    @Some Bloke

    Not sure what you mean by “don’t have a problem with standing up to a Tory Home Secretary.” What evidence is there for this?

    I’ll concede, it’s his personal website as the Police and Crime Commissioner which is heavily laden with Conservative iconography, whereas the official Staffs PCC one is not.

    You say “the engagement of governance has increased under this system,” what facts do you have to back up this claim?

    I’d agree the turnout [for voting] was abysmal.

    The older Police Authority was drawn from local councils which were, by default, political, however it was diluted by neutral members of the public which, in my opinion, provided a balance. Rather than all the power resting with one person.

    You say “The PCC will not exert control over operation policing,” I say, from experience, there’s many ways to influence operational policy, even if you do not have operational command.

    You say “however local policing policy priories has to be political and the best way of doing it is a direct vote and a PCC accountable to the public.”

    I’d like you to quantify this statement. The Brexit referendum has shown that, generally, people have little to no understanding of what they are voting for, couple that with an abysmal turnout – how is it the best way to directly vote?

    Lets turn to his record.

    Well lets not, because the website is quite literally a mash of aspirational tripe, with very little detail. Cadets, I’ll give him cadets, but does it take the creation of this role to recreate cadets?

    What’s better?

    How about people drawn from major towns and cities in the community who can talk about their own problems and criminal issues? We already have this, but much watered down, imagine if it were properly funded, now that’s real local engagement.

  11. Rob B

    24th June, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I think the very basic point to be taken from this decision is the disarray in the Tory Party at every level and the lies they are willing to tell to get elected.

    Whilst I didn’t vote Tory in the County Council elections and will never bring myself to vote for such selfish, hypocritical individuals, we have a Tory controlled Council elected on the lies of “Keep Council Tax Low” the PCC precept is part of that tax. They promised to keep tax low and increased it beyond the minimum allowed by stealth, by removing services such as brown bins and making people pay an “optional” tax. Now Matthew Ellis wants to have free reign to put up his element by scrapping the cap on the police precept. Did he not see the election posters the rest of us saw or do those making the decisions about what to write on them not speak to those standing for election? Maybe they should try delivering on their promises to the public instead of lying to us.

    I also recall Matthew Ellis claiming during the PCC elections that he could do more with less, was against the small increase proposed by the Labour candidate George Adamson and went on about getting Police out of the stations and on the streets. I realise now that I must have misheard and what he actually said was “pay more, get less” at least this is in line with current Tory policy if nothing else, this seems to be the basic principle of Tories in Lichfield. Now he wants to be able to tax us all beyond the current maximum allowed at the same time as he’s closing stations, which has a direct effect on neighbourhood policing and community safety.

    Senior politicians from every party and security experts alike are clear that neighbouring policing and community engagement is essential to combating the terror threat and with close to 20,000 Officers and even more Police Staff lost under the Tories they have seriously damaged the ability for the Police to be a part of the community. A new station is being built at Lichfield. A station that the public will have no access to so hardly a part of the community. Whatever happened to the basic tenet of policing espoused by Sir Robert Peel, “The Police are the Public and the Public are the Police” ? If the public want to speak to the police they can ring 101 and wait for up to an hour for one of the reduced in number call takers to answer or they can go to the Council Office and press the intercom, wait for someone to answer that then wait again whilst an Officer or Police Staff Member is sent half way across Lichfield to meet them outside. Oh and let’s not forget the plan to close Chasetown Police Station leaving the whole town without a permanent police presence.

    It would be nice to see some honesty somewhere amongst the current crop of Tories but election lies and U-turns seems to be the order of the day.

  12. Adam Elsdon

    24th June, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Matthew Ellis’s “Office” costs approx £1.1 million pounds to run including his deputy and other PR staff, his own pay is £75,000 his deputy Sue Arnold is paid £25,000 for a 3 day week. From a public standpoint we mainly get a once monthly public meeting, probably at a supermarket, and he runs a proceed of crimes fund, money taken from criminals which he distributes on an application basis to community groups, some policing analytical and stats info and finding reports from panels made up of local volunteer groups. The whole role of the PCC is a significant expense to the force region.

    If he is truly concerned about public safety due to a significant threat from terrorism and it is affecting the daily police operation then he should be using his elected position to directly apply pressure on the government to increase Police funding in his force area, Theresa May cut the Police budget, she can increase it.

    Times are hard, austerity is a bitch and now the PCC is starting to feel it, reduce your considerable office Mr Ellis, we have had to bite the bullet, its time that you did.

  13. Tez

    24th June, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Why doesn’t Mr Ellis’ take a 50% pay cut or quit completely and free up his un wanted / needed position and put at least in the minimum 3 more pc’s on the beat which I had to be better than one pen pushing empire building idiot !!!!

  14. The Scribbler

    24th June, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Earlier this year, Mr Ellis advertised for a Communications & Marketing Manager for the PCC at salary band £42,492 – £48,486.

    That’s quite a hefty pay packet compared to similar roles in other public bodies.

    Plus, given the fact that both Mr Ellis and his deputy are consumate self-publicists I doubt that they need such a senior adviser on communications and marketing.

  15. Adam Elsdon

    28th June, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Some Bloke, you said that you would have liked to have seen more candidates for PCC standing and getting a real debate going, to join that club requires a deposit of £5000 to stand as a candidate, which you only get back if you achieve 5% of the vote, which is odd when you consider that to stand as a candidate for Member of Parliament costs £500.
    It would seem that an unnecessary financial restriction has been put in place,even before campaign costs are factored in, how an independent candidate can make headway against the Conservative party machine is difficult, particularly if the existing PCC has a permanent communications officer on £48K a year to promote you while in office. In 2012 a Conservative candidate spent £98,000 on their campaign…and lost, but it shows the sort of money that is potentially required to get the position, democracy for the rich.