A PROPOSAL to increase the amount of council tax paid to maintain police services has been vetoed at a meeting of Gwent’s Police and Crime Panel.

Representatives from all five Gwent local authorities met with Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Jeff Cuthbert, on Friday to discuss the 2018/19 police precept.

The meeting followed a PCC consultation for a 3.99 per cent rise in precept - the part of council tax that goes to Gwent Police - alongside alternative rises of 4.99 and 5.99 per cent to boost the police budget.

After feedback from more than 600 residents, the PCC asked the panel to consider a 4.49 per cent increase - equalling 20p a week extra for an average Band D property.

The proposal reflected financial challenges and aimed to help meet demands of policing in Gwent with a figure equating to a £52,094,255 shared by Gwent's five councils.

The allocations included £4,825,228 from Blaenau Gwent, £14,333,212 from Caerphilly, £10,972,244 from Monmouthshire, £13,979,688 from Newport and £7,983,883 from Torfaen.

Gwent PCC’s chief finance officer, Darren Garwood-Pask, said that the proposal was about “sustainability going forward” with regards to uncertain funding sources and wider factors such as “the uncertainty of Brexit”.

The panel also heard precept increases would help Gwent Police recruit more officers and maintain staffing levels in the future in conjunction with partnership working schemes that would “generate savings.”

A report, presented to the panel, also outlined Gwent Police’s draft budget for 2018/19 which stood at £123,581,044 with £183,000 of outlined savings.

Projections up to 2022/23 included cuts of £5.865m spread across 15 categories from local policing and the police dogs section to ICT.

Following discussion, the Police and Crime Panel said the 4.49 per cent increase was “too high” and asked the PCC to consider the lower increase of 3.99 per cent.

This equates to a 18p a week extra for an average Band D property.

The panel will submit a report to the PCC in support of their suggestion by February 8.

Gwent’s PCC, Jeff Cuthbert, speaking after the meeting, said: “I would like to thank the panel for their scrutiny. I will take time to reflect on the report once received and will respond to the panel in due course.”