The first was the budget. A 1.9% increase was unanimously voted for. This equates to a total of £67.68 for a Band D Council Tax property.
Later, the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner gave a brief presentation and then answered questions. Nick Alston reflected on the potential merger of the EFA and Essex Police. The Essex County Fire & Rescue Service recently came under the control of the Home Office, which already has the Police under its wing.
Essex Police is struggling to meet demands, and there are public concerns over cuts. He is taking painful decisions, added Mr Alston, and he added that the cuts have been very severe over the last five years.
I spoke about public confidence, about violent crime. About how my ward is in an area that has the highest crime figures in all of Essex, often twice the number in the next closest area. We are seeing reduced services against a backdrop of a growing population.
I also said the merger should not just be about HR and payroll services, because any two organisations could join based on that limited criteria. I also said I regretted the politicisation of the Police. I also expressed cynicism about the cuts in general, stating my support for public services.