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South Kesteven District Council's cabinet does U-turn on tax discount for special constables

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South Kesteven District Council's cabinet did a U-turn at a meeting this afternoon (Thursday) and agreed to give a tax discount to special constables.

Independent councillor Phil Dilks had been due to put forward a motion urging the cabinet to change its mind after it said it would not support the tax discount being proposed by Lincolnshire police and crime commissioner Marc Jones.

But at today's full council meeting, in putting forward a recommendation for the council to once again offer a council tax support scheme, the cabinet member for finance Adam Stokes (Con) included the support for special constables.

Coun Phil Dilks (7801745)
Coun Phil Dilks (7801745)

He said the U-turn proved the "cabinet did listen" before recommendations were brought to full council, and the council voted in favour of the proposal.

Coun Adam Stokes had previously said he did not support it.

Coun Dilks queried whether it was right that Coun Stokes could change the recommendation and said all seven members of the cabinet had previously voted against the tax discount.

He said if all 22 special constables living in the district claimed the discount it would equate to £825 a year which he said was a tiny sum in comparison to the in excess of £133,000 being claimed by the seven cabinet members in allowances for a "voluntary role".

Coun Dilks added: "I completely welcome the U-turn by Coun Stokes."

Leader of the district council Kelham Cooke (Con) said there had been a rise in the number of people claiming the council tax support scheme since last March and although this had stabilised, the council expected to see an increase in the 2021/22 financial year as well.

He said this was a "sad result of the impact of the pandemic on the economy".

With regards the discount for special constables, Coun Cooke said the cabinet had wanted to see what the other district councils and the county council were proposing. He said he was pleased to see they mostly supported Mr Jones' request.

Several councillors, including Coun Ashley Baxter, Coun Sarah Trotter, and Coun Paul Wood spoke in favour of giving the discount to special constables.

Coun Trotter (Con) told the council that she spent two years as a special herself before going onto a full-time role in the police, retiring as a detective constable for the British Transport Police in 2017.

Coun Dilks had earlier accused the cabinet of being "hypocritical" for refusing the discount for special constables but agreeing to underwrite the £100,000 cost of a party to unveil a statue of Margaret Thatcher in Grantham.

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