Shaftesbury Locals Asked To Consider Council Tax Rise To Fund More Police

The Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner is hosting events to find out if residents support a £15 increase in annual Council Tax bills to pay for more police. But Shaftesbury has been left off the list of consultation venues.

Martyn Underhill says that additional funding is required for the force to maintain its levels of service and to, ‘also enhance it with new officers’. He doubts whether the cash will come from central government.

It has been suggested that a Council Tax increase would pay for fifty extra Dorset Police officers across the county, including the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch conurbation. “It’s important I get as wide a range of views as possible and find out what the people of Dorset feel about these proposals,” said Mr Underhill.

But Shaftesbury residents will need to travel to attend these roadshows. Our nearest events are at Blandford Forum’s Tesco at 12noon to 2pm on Wednesday 8th January, on Friday 10th January at Sherborne’s Waitrose, between 10am and 12noon and Gillingham’s Waitrose from 1pm to 3pm.

The PCC press office told Alfred: “We try to ensure that we visit areas to the north, south, east and west of the county. Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit every town and village in Dorset, but members of the team will be going to Gillingham, which is to the very north of the county and we hope to meet many residents from the surrounding area on the day.”

It’s not the first time Shaftesbury residents have faced challenges in talking face-to-face with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s team. In 2018, public meetings were called to explain the proposed merger of Devon and Cornwall and Dorset Police forces, a plan supported by the Commissioner. The nearest sessions to Shaftesbury were in Blandford, Sherborne and Dorchester.

Shaftesbury residents were advised to attend a stand at the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show. At the time, ThisIsAlfred raised concerns with Mr Underhill’s office that the venue choice would require residents to purchase £15 tickets in order to attend.

The merger plan failed when Mr Underhill’s Devon and Cornwall PCC counterpart didn’t support the business case. The BBC later revealed that the failed merger cost £376,798, including around £190,000 in consultant fees.

A webchat discussing the suggested increase in the portion of Council Tax that goes to the police will take place on www.dorsetpccwebchat.com at 6.30pm on Monday 13th January and there’s a survey on www.dorsetpoliceprecept.com.