LUDLOW MP Philip Dunne is challenging West Mercia Police to justify imposing the highest possible increase in precept at a time when they have reserves of nearly £50 million.

Following a recent 1.99% rise in the policing precept the MP has written to West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore to challenge him to justify the increase.

“West Mercia Police have done some sterling work, in particular through its joint efforts with Warwickshire, to extract efficiency savings while preserving frontline capability and cutting crime,” said Philip Dunne.

“But I was concerned to learn that the authority has built up significant reserves over the last few years, which now stand at around £49.5 million, one third more than when the Police and Crime Commissioner took office.

“At a time when household budgets are tight, local residents will not welcome any increase in out-goings. So I have written to challenge the commissioner to explain to me and local residents, who will have to find the money to pay his demand, to justify this increase.

“Come on Bill, please tell us how you can seriously justify increasing the precept while building such substantial reserves.

“Do you need it to pay for your innovation of appointing paid 'community ambassadors' for each county? Is that not what you have been elected, and with your deputy are being paid, to do?," added Mr Dunne.