West Mercia Police raid £10m reserves to balance budget

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore.

First published in Ludlow
Last updated
Ludlow Advertiser: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

POLICE chiefs are to raid the reserves by £10 million to help plug gaping holes in the budget - leading to fears they are taking a risk.

Bill Longmore, the police and crime commissioner for West Mercia, wants to use cash from the ‘rainy day’ pot to balance his books between now and 2015.

Pressure to cut budgets from central Government, as well as a decision to freeze the police’s portion of the council tax bill, has left a gaping black hole in the force’s finances. The reserves pot, which has £22 million in it at the moment, will be raided by £3.5m in April, £2.4m next year and £4.3m in 2015/16.

The reserves fund is designed to be used in emergencies, as a last-resort to solve financial problems.

The move was debated during a meeting of the police and crime panel at Worcester's County Hall, where some politicians backed it while others said it was a risk. Councillor Roger Hollingworth said: “Looking at this budget we are spending reserves that were built up over a long period of time despite admitting it is a risk.

“I don’t believe we should be using our reserves to help fund areas of the plan for the next three years.”

Others said it was the right move as the force is already cutting £21 million from the budget by 2015/16, and without using the reserves even more would need to be slashed.

Councillor Adrian Hardman said: “I think he’s doing the entirely right thing here - the ratio of reserves we have is perfectly adequate and while I do see how some members think he’s taking a risk, this is existing taxpayers money that is sitting in reserves for entirely this purpose.

“It is the right strategy to take.”

Dave Clarke, chief finance officer for the PCC office, said: “There are always additional risks that come along and use of the reserves is always sensitive. “But at this point the reserves are very healthy, so the question is do we use it to help policing or keep it in reserves for perpetuity.”

He said it was a “prudent” approach and would still leave enough in the pot to cover for other emergency costs as they emerge.

Comments (9)

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2:29am Tue 12 Feb 13

Biomech says...

Then why did he just say they wouldn't be taking their cut of the tax increase this year?
Then why did he just say they wouldn't be taking their cut of the tax increase this year? Biomech
  • Score: 0

5:46am Tue 12 Feb 13

silentbull says...

And what happens next??
The money will run out 'so' they will either want to keep using the reserves which eventually will run out,
'top up' the reserves using the only means possible ....US!!!!
OR go to the government and ask for more(which they will say no because their more interested in spending it abroad)
Rock and hard place comes to mind
And what happens next?? The money will run out 'so' they will either want to keep using the reserves which eventually will run out, 'top up' the reserves using the only means possible ....US!!!! OR go to the government and ask for more(which they will say no because their more interested in spending it abroad) Rock and hard place comes to mind silentbull
  • Score: 0

5:47am Tue 12 Feb 13

silentbull says...

And what happens next??
The money will run out 'so' they will either want to keep using the reserves which eventually will run out,
'top up' the reserves using the only means possible ....US!!!!
OR go to the government and ask for more(which they will say no because their more interested in spending it abroad or on crazy ideas)
Rock and hard place comes to mind
And what happens next?? The money will run out 'so' they will either want to keep using the reserves which eventually will run out, 'top up' the reserves using the only means possible ....US!!!! OR go to the government and ask for more(which they will say no because their more interested in spending it abroad or on crazy ideas) Rock and hard place comes to mind silentbull
  • Score: 0

8:04am Tue 12 Feb 13

probono says...

West mercia Police Authority have in the past had a good bank balance and been debt and mortgage free. Is this still the case now ?
West mercia Police Authority have in the past had a good bank balance and been debt and mortgage free. Is this still the case now ? probono
  • Score: 0

8:55am Tue 12 Feb 13

courtesycall says...

When uttered by the public sector the word 'prudent' generally ends up as a mistake of the previous administration.
When uttered by the public sector the word 'prudent' generally ends up as a mistake of the previous administration. courtesycall
  • Score: 0

11:51am Tue 12 Feb 13

fordshire77 says...

How was this "reserve money" gained and over how many years has it taken to get to this size? If and it is a BIG "IF" HC have any "reserve money" don’t let Jarvis anywhere bloody near it!
How was this "reserve money" gained and over how many years has it taken to get to this size? If and it is a BIG "IF" HC have any "reserve money" don’t let Jarvis anywhere bloody near it! fordshire77
  • Score: 0

6:49pm Tue 12 Feb 13

Werintrouble says...

I agree with fordshire77, are they admitting taking more money from us than they needed?
Why did they think that this idea was ever in our best interests?
I agree with fordshire77, are they admitting taking more money from us than they needed? Why did they think that this idea was ever in our best interests? Werintrouble
  • Score: 0

11:01am Thu 14 Feb 13

DWH196 says...

I can only wish i had a reserve of cash like this to dip into when i saw fit! Oh well just need 5 numbers and 2 lucky stars on Friday night!
I can only wish i had a reserve of cash like this to dip into when i saw fit! Oh well just need 5 numbers and 2 lucky stars on Friday night! DWH196
  • Score: 0

2:10pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Mr.Herefordian says...

What is the point of a PC?
What is the point of a PC? Mr.Herefordian
  • Score: 0
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