WIRRAL people will have a chance to give their views on whether they would be willing to pay extra to protect local policing.

The Government announced in December that it would not cut the police budget any further.

However, says Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy, the Chancellor included a 0.6% cut to Merseyside Police’s grant he assumed would be made up by local people paying more towards policing through their council tax.

In a letter sent to commissioners, it was confirmed they would be expected to increase the police precept part of council tax in order to maintain the current levels of funding.

This means if Ms Kennedy chooses not to increase the precept by 1.95% as anticipated by the Government, the budget will effectively be cut by 0.6% - the equivalent of £1.35m.

This cut puts at risk about 26 police officer posts, she said.

Now Ms Kennedy is asking local people whether they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week on their annual council tax bill to make up for the shortfall.

She said: “While the Government’s dramatic U-turn on cuts of up to 40% on our police service came as a huge relief last year, the Chancellor was only able to say that he was protecting the police budget by assuming that local tax payers would pay more.

“The Chancellor did not consult local people, he just put together the police’s budget on the expectation that the residents of Merseyside would make up the difference.

"This has effectively tied my hands - if I don’t increase the amount of council tax collected towards policing, the force will lose out."

Ms Kennedy said Merseyside Police has already had its budget cut by more than £77m over the last six years. 

This has led to the loss of more than 1,600 officers, PCSOs and staff - "We cannot afford to lose any more," she added.

“I am therefore asking people if they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week to help balance the books against this cut by the Government and protect vital frontline police services.”

To have your say click here for online survey.