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Written - Police Authority Budgets 2007-2008

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Sue Essex, Minister For Finance, Local Government And Public Services
Today I am writing to all police authorities to consult them on their budget intentions for 2007-2008.

In earlier correspondence and in meetings I have already explained my expectations for the budget requirements of police authorities. In the light of what I have said I have been encouraged that for many police authorities their budget growth is broadly in line with my expectations. I have written to all police authorities again today to set out these expectations in even greater detail.  In order to do so in terms that leave no room for doubt, I am setting them out in the form of draft principles under Section 52B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. A copy of the draft is attached.

These draft principles define the limits beyond which the Welsh Assembly Government would consider a police authority budget to be excessive.  The powers under the 1992 Act enable me to lay these principles before the Assembly.  Once such principles have been formally made by the Assembly they pave the way for formal steps, if necessary, to designate or nominate police authorities which set budgets which break the principles.

Although the legislation doesn’t require me to consult, I am keen to give authorities an opportunity to express their views to ensure we have a common understanding of the basis on which the budget figure for 2006 – 07 and 2007 – 08 are defined. I am sure that police authorities will appreciate the clarity I am giving.   In preparing these principles I have relied on an extensive dialogue and exchange of information with police authorities and I am grateful to them.  The consultation period will close at noon on 26th February.

If following the consultation period, it is necessary to proceed, it would be my intention to seek the formal approval of the draft principles by the  Assembly in plenary session. Assembly Members will have an opportunity to discuss the matter then.  As police authorities have to set their own budgets legally by 1st March, then following approval by the Assembly, the Government will then be in a position to consider those budgets against the principles.