A COUNTY council panel has vetoed an increase of over 10 per cent in the police tax due to lack of detail and assurances from the police and crime commissioner (PCC).

At a meeting yesterday, the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Panel rejected the increase which had been recommended by PCC Julia Mulligan.

The panel decided that it needed more detail to arrive at a balanced decision.

It also felt there was a lack of assurance about where the extra money would be spent, particularly in relation to aspects of local policing.

At the meeting, the panel expressed concern that levels of neighbourhood policing have declined in recent times with a corresponding decline in public confidence.

Members were especially disappointed that the commissioner and police officers gave a presentation to the panel yesterday with new information so that there was little time to take on board the issues and hold the commissioner to account.

The panel stated it would also welcome more detail about how savings can be made.

Councillor Carl Les, chair of the panel, said: “Rejecting the commissioner’s proposal was not a decision taken lightly by the panel and we understand the public’s need to have a more visible policing presence in York and North Yorkshire.

"But an increase of more than 10 per cent is simply too much to ask people to pay without further information about how aspects of local policing will be improved.”

The panel also expressed concerns about the conclusions drawn from the commissioner’s public consultation. 

However the panel accepted the principle that the precept money would be held in a policing priorities fund and only released by the commissioner on the production of a successful business case.

The panel has a reserve date for the panel to consider a revised precept proposal on February 21.

The panel gave its approval to an increase for 2019/20 for the fire and rescue service 2.99 per cent.

Commenting on the decision, Julia Mulligan said: “While I am pleased the Police, Fire and Crime Panel accepted my proposals for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, I am naturally disappointed that they have chosen to veto the proposals for the North Yorkshire Police precept.

“I have been clear that the proposed increase was a difficult decision, not arrived at lightly, and a huge amount of work by my team and the Chief Constable’s team has gone into the proposal, especially given the short timescales we are given to work to.

“My proposals were crystal clear about boosting visible policing by an additional 50 police officers and 20 PCSOs, bringing North Yorkshire Police almost back to 2010 levels of resources.

"Those new resources would then be split between additional officers and PCSOs for local and visible policing teams across the county to tackle offences like burglaries and anti-social behaviour, a new ‘city task force’ for York, more work on mental health and brand new teams focusing on prevention and early intervention.

"It is disappointing that this was not enough to convince the panel that my proposals were the right thing for our communities.

“I however remain convinced that these proposals are the right ones to ensure North Yorkshire residents and businesses are safe and feel safe."

She added that "in the spirit of co-operation", she will provide further information on the proposals ahead of the reserve date meeting on February 21.