A CLOUD of uncertainty surrounds whether a proposal for inflation-busting rise in a police force’s council tax demand will be pushed through in the face of opposition from a watchdog.

While North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime commissioner has insisted the plans she presented for approval were “crystal clear”, the county’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel unanimously agreed more information and assurances were needed to pass her plans for a 10.3 per cent precept rise.

It has emerged the panel has the power to veto commissioner Julia Mulligan’s plans for next year’s North Yorkshire Police budget for a second time when it meets again on February 21, just hours before members of the Conservative Party in York and North Yorkshire meet to consider readopting her as its candidate for the role.

However, it is understood any further veto of the police budget would effectively just be the panel signalling its disapproval, as it does not have the power to stop the budget going through.

At the outset of the meeting in County Hall, Northallerton, Mrs Mulligan had apologised for the large amount of time she wanted to spend explaining the reasons why she believed the council tax increase was necessary.

But following an 85-minute presentation, which also saw assistant chief constable Phil Cain explain the operational response to the proposals, the eight members of the panel voiced concerns about the lack of detail being provided.

A spokesman for Mrs Mulligan’s office said afterwards it would “do our very best to meet the panel’s requirements”.

Mrs Mulligan said it was disappointing her presentation was not enough to convince the panel to back her plan.

She added: “I have been clear that the proposed increase was a difficult decision, not arrived at lightly, and a huge amount of work by my team and the chief constable’s team has gone into the proposal, especially given the short timescales we are given to work to.

“My proposals were crystal clear about boosting visible policing by an additional 50 police officers and 20 PCSOs, bringing North Yorkshire Police almost back to 2010 levels of resources.

“Those new resources would then be split between additional officers and PCSOs for local and visible policing teams across the county to tackle offences like burglaries and anti-social behaviour, a new ‘city task force’ for York, more work on mental health and brand new teams focusing on prevention and early intervention.”

Councillor Carl Les, chairman of the panel set up to hold the commissioner to account, said it was appreciated that the force was facing huge demand pressures and that there was a need to invest in the force, but the commissioner had not specified how millions of pounds would be spent.

He said: “Just to say put the money in a pot and I will decide how to spend it is not good enough. We would feel rather foolish going back to our communities without knowing exactly how the money being asked for from them was going to be spent.”