A change to the council’s budget proposals could see residents who volunteer as police officers being asked to pay less council tax.

Southend’s Conservative Group have laid out plans for an amendment to the budget that will help drive up recruitment of special constables in Southend by giving volunteers a financial incentive.

It comes after the current Labour-led administration appeared to drop plans to assist Essex Police in the recruitment of 32 special constables in favour of a council-led scheme that will hand safety and enforcement teams extra responsibilities.

Tory Councillor Dan Nelson, who championed the idea of boosting neighbourhood policing with special constables, said: “At the beginning of this year we were successful in achieving funding for 32 extra Special Constables in our town to help make Southend's streets safe again.

“Since that time the Labour-led coalition backed by the Independents and Lib Dems have refused to do anything to help with the recruitment of these Special Constables. Even going so far as suggesting that there is a recruitment problem in Southend, a claim rightfully dismissed by the police themselves.

“If the administration refuses to take the safety of the residents in Southend seriously, the Conservative Group will step up to the plate and push for action.

“By giving all Special Constables that live in Southend a council tax discount we not only thank them for the work they do in their free time but we also create a financial incentive to encourage more people to become Special Constables.”

Councillor Martin Terry, who oversees public safety, has previously pushed back against the idea of the council spending £32,000 to help recruit special constables that would operate exclusively within Southend because of recruitment difficulties in the borough.

While Mr Terry claimed Essex Police had found there to be difficulties in recruitment based on comments made by officers at a public meeting about Leigh Town Council, the police later refuted his claim.

“Essex Police already have a massive recruitment campaign going and they have said they are confident in the numbers, so I think this is electioneering,” said Mr Terry.

“Why would we expend more of tax payers money than what we need to?”

Councillors will discuss whether to approve the amendment when they meet on Thursday night.