SURREY Police Authority is challenging the Government over a budget cap for the next two years. The challenge was announced at a public meeting in which its members approved the local policing plan and targets for the year 2008 to 2009.

The approval had been delayed due to uncertainty caused by the Government's threat to cap the police budget.

The budget of £191.5 million this year marked a 6% increase on last year. The Government's recommended limit is 5%.

The threat was lifted but now the police authority is challenging the Government's restrictions on its spending for the next three years. The cap limits the budget for 2009 to 2010 to £189.6 million, which is what a 5% increase on 2007 to 2008 would have been.

Police authority chairman Peter Williams said: "At the start of this year we set out a challenging three-year plan for policing in Surrey which prioritised service improvement, efficiency and flexibility.

"By deciding against this plan and restricting our budget setting abilities for the next two years, the Government's decision could result in serious problems if central funding changes or we experience exceptional policing demands."