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Want to give up paying Council Tax? Then become a Special Constable…

Ideas. We all have them. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. Some of them are indifferent. I once had the idea that you could pay x amount a month and get unlimited access to the internet. Alas I was just 14 and had no capital. Freeserve would beat me to the punch. I had the idea about reviving the Isle of Wight music festival. Alas I was just 16 and had no capital. They are my best two ideas to my knowledge and neither would get acted upon.

However some local Lib Dems have come up with an idea. I think we should have a look at it. In the local rag today there is an article entitled Why special constables could pay no council tax. Certainly worth clicking on as I know a couple of Specials on the beat here in Southend. It turns out it is a Lib Dem idea that the Tory cabinet are indeed going to look at.

he Head of the Lib Dems on the Council Graham Longley is quoted as saying the following, “I am very pleased our initiatives have been listened to and considered.

“This is an ideal way to try to get more people involved in playing a part in society and it would come at no direct cost to the council.”

Later in the piece Nigel Holdcroft, the Tory council leader said: “We have agreed to request a paper on the financial and practical ramifications of offering council tax rebates to special constables.

“I am pleased the Lib Dem group has raised these suggestions.

“Perhaps other groups will follow this lead, which has been sadly missing from all opposition parties over recent years.”

An Essex Police spokesman added: “We look forward to Southend Council contacting us to explore its plan.”


I must say it is a very interesting concept (I know I used interesting twice in close proximity to each other – I’m coming down with Steve Davis disease from the mid 1980s) but it really is. Having more Specials on the beat is important – certainly in a tourist town where these officers can patrol the tourist hot-spots freeing up the regular bobby to do other work. There are always plenty of Specials in the town centre but having patrols along the seafront throughout the summer would be a welcome sight.

The cost of this – and giving that little bit of incentive to people who want to help make their town a nicer and safer place would be small. I have no knowledge of Specials numbers in the town but say if you had 40 Specials who all did 16+ hours a week then the cost would be around £50-60k a year in Council Tax saved. Is that a price worth paying? Quite possibly so.

The Big Society is the calling card of David Cameron but very few people want to give up time for absolutely nothing. If you give them just a small token of your appreciation though then people are far more willing to put in the time and effort. Doing some quick maths based on a Band D property in Southend and basing it on Specials putting in 16 hours a week (two full shifts) then these specials would cost £1.72 p/h. That isn’t the worst price to pay for an extra visual presence of the law on the streets.

It will be interesting to see if the Tory cabinet in Southend adopt these proposals – and it would be interesting to see how much it really would cost – and it would be interesting to see if that shortfall of x amount of Council Tax is made up for in less mone spent fixing anti-social behaviour problems due to a more visual presence on the street and beaches – and it would be interesting to see if I could stop using the word interesting.

Or not.

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