A PUBLIC consultation on council tax rates has been initiated by Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl.

The county's first PCC, who has responsibility for deciding how to spend the constabulary's £105 million budget, wants to gauge public opinion on council tax levels.

Mr Surl has hinted that rises could be needed to boost the budget and protect the force from the impact of central Government cuts.

Policing in Gloucestershire is presently funded in two ways - through local council taxes and a grant from the Government.

"On the one hand the Government is suggesting we freeze council tax but on the other it has reduced our grant by nearly two per cent," said Mr Surl.

"If we leave the tax as it is, we won't be able to absorb the cuts the Government expects us to make next year and in subsequent years which could affect frontline services and our ability to reduce crime.

"If we use our reserves, which has also been suggested in Whitehall, we would have no money to replace ageing equipment or improve our infrastructure."

The police authority, which used to be responsible for the constabulary's budget before it was disbanded, had already been planning to raise its share of the council tax budget by 3.9 per cent as part of its mid-term financial strategy.

That was before the Government announced it was cutting its contribution to the cost of running the constabulary by almost two per cent.

Mr Surl said the question of funding had cropped-up frequently when speaking to prospective voters during the election campaign.

"I promised I would be transparent, so I want to get as many views as I can before making a final decision," he said.

To have your say on council tax rates contact the commissioner by emailing: budget@gloucestershire.police.uk or by writing to 1 Waterwells, Waterwells Drive, Quedgeley, Gloucester, GL2 2AN.

Comments must be submitted by noon on Friday, January 25 as the Gloucestershire police and crime panel will be asked to confirm the constabulary's budget at its meeting on Wednesday, February 6.