Haringey Borough Council admits 50 per cent council tax discount for Special Constables could go ahead

Haringey Independent: Lynne Featherstone MP and campaigners have called on Haringey Borough Council to give special constables a 50 per cent discount on council tax Lynne Featherstone MP and campaigners have called on Haringey Borough Council to give special constables a 50 per cent discount on council tax

Haringey Borough Council has made a U-turn on its claim that council tax could not be halved for volunteer police officers because the deadline for changes had passed.

The authority today admitted the policy to introduce a 50 per cent council tax discount for Special Constables could be agreed at a meeting of full council on February 26.

This news comes as the borough’s top cop, Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa, became the latest person to support the Liberal Democrat campaign.

The borough commander said: “I am fully behind the proposal to give our Special Constables a 50 per cent council tax discount.

“I think it would be a good reward for the current Specials and it would encourage more people to sign up and volunteer to fight crime in Haringey.”

The campaign was launched last week by Lynne Featherstone, the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.

On Thursday, the authority said the council tax for the 2014/15 year had already been agreed at a meeting of full council on November 18, 2013, and could not now be legally amended, making the campaign pointless.

But this morning the council withdrew the claim and said although the Council Tax Reduction Scheme could not be changed, the discount could still go ahead.

In an email to councillors seen by the Haringey Independent, a council officer confirmed this, saying the policy could be proposed under discretionary relief legislation.

Ms Featherstone said: “It is great to secure the support of the Borough Commander on this campaign to reward and encourage our hardworking special constables.

“Hundreds of residents have already registered their support for our campaign."

The Lib Dem politician added: “The Haringey Lib Dems and I are working hard to help fight crime in the borough – on this campaign and others – including our campaign for a replacement police base in Muswell Hill and for better street lighting.”

Unlike Police Community Support Officers, special constables have the same powers and responsibilities as regular police officers.

They spend up to 16 hours a month volunteering with the police - all without pay - in order to help make communities safer.

There are currently 62 Specials in the borough and if they are all in tax band D it would cost the council around £46,000 to give the discount.

Councillor Joe Goldberg, the council’s cabinet member for finance, said he was disappointed the Lib Dems did not propose this idea in November when Haringey’s council tax reduction scheme was passed.

He said: “We’re proud to support all our police officers, PCSOs and special constables, whose dedicated work has led to crime rates in Haringey continuing to fall.

“We also know from our consultation with residents that they have real concerns about cuts to local police, which is why our budget proposals include setting aside resources for match-funding new officer posts to bolster our neighbourhood police teams.

“Since the government’s abolition of council tax benefit, local authorities have been left to form their own council tax reduction schemes in the face of ever-shrinking funding.”

To sign the petition to have the policy introduced by the council, click here.

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