Specials’ discount to be spared the axe

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LABOUR politicians are set to reject proposals to axe council tax discounts to volunteer police officers.

More than 100 Special Constables, who put thousands of unpaid hours into front-line policing in Hull, faced losing their 50 per cent council tax rebate under plans being considered by the city council.

The proposal, going before the council’s Labour cabinet on Monday, comes less than two years after the specials’ £1,500 annual “bounty” was withdrawn. A report by council officers suggests the removal of the bounty hadn’t impacted on the numbers of specials willing to do the job.

But council leader Steve Brady said yesterday: “We are not going to cut it that’s the straight answer. They actually do a very effective job in the city; I don’t know how many people would go out to patrol the streets on a freezing night.

“These are the people who make up what David Cameron would say was the Big Society. My opinion is that we have a duty to look after them.

“It is something in Hull that we consider a good thing to do, the same as the Armed Forces and Veterans’ Charter, it’s something we feel we owe as a debt to them and I think the Cabinet will be absolutely as one in that.”

Removing the discount would have saved the council between £12,000 and £15,000 a year.

Humberside Police Authority, which decided to axe the bounty payments last March as part of £30m cuts, said they would be disappointed if the axe fell on the discount.

Chair Ros Taylor said: “Although the Police Authority appreciates the current financial pressures for local authorities, it would be disappointing if the arrangement with Hull City Council was to cease, particularly due to the significant contribution made by special constables to the successful policing of the city of Hull.” The only other police authority to give bounty payments, Durham, decided to end them last week.