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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 15:35 GMT
Police body rejects merger plan
Police officers on patrol
Mr Clarke believes the mergers will improve policing
The Cheshire Police Authority has voted against the proposed merger of its force with Merseyside Police.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has given the authorities until Friday to agree a merger before he begins a parliamentary process to impose it.

Mr Clarke believes larger forces will help combat terrorism, fight organised crime and improve local policing.

But the authority said the government still needed to offer reassurances about their concerns.

We have agreed today not to volunteer so the minister will have to do his damndest and proceed to use powers to compel us through parliament
Peter Nurse, chairman

Members formally voted against the merger at a meeting on Tuesday.

Chairman Peter Nurse admitted the merger was still likely to go ahead, but said the authority wanted to register its objections.

"We have agreed today not to volunteer so the minister will have to do his damnest and proceed to use powers to compel us through parliament."

Mr Nurse said the people of Cheshire wanted assurances that they would not lose police to Merseyside, which has a much higher crime rate.

Concerns also exist about the effect of the proposal on Cheshire's council taxes and costs of the merger being passed on to the county.

Difficult decisions

Meanwhile, the authority revealed its spending plans for 2006/07 after agreeing its budget at the meeting.

The level of council tax is to rise by 5.7% to pay for extra services in the coming year, bringing the bill for a band D property to 108.49.

The increase will pay for an extra 92 Police Community Support Officers and an additional 29 police officers at Cheshire Constabulary. Forty-three police staff will be recruited to transfer existing officers away from desk jobs.

Mr Nurse added: "We have had to make some difficult decisions but local tax payers will continue to pay one of the lowest rates for policing in the country.

"This budget delivers real improvements in policing in Cheshire and will result in greater security for residents and help to keep down crime in our neighbourhoods."


SEE ALSO:
Police mergers outlined by Clarke
06 Feb 06 |  UK Politics
Most forces 'against merger plan'
23 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
Police merger timescale 'absurd'
18 Nov 05 |  Merseyside
Cheshire force 'axed' in shake-up
10 Nov 05 |  Merseyside


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