East Renfrewshire Council to sell unique and ‘valuable’ vehicle registration plate to help close budget gap

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The plate will soon be up for grabs - with the council hoping to charge six figures to superstars like Harry Styles, Helen Skelton, or even Hilary Swank will be making offers

East Renfrewshire Council is set to sell a ‘valuable number plate’ in a bid to raise funds to help reduce the expected £30m budget gap over the next three years.

The council area south-west of Glasgow currently owns the car registration plate HS 0, which was given to the old Eastwood District Council decades ago. It’s not been in use since the lease on the Council’s car ended last year in 2022, and has now been identified as a potential way to generate so for the Council.

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The cost of living crisis is hitting the local governments funds, and given the uniqueness of the registration plate, it is thought that its sale could generate a ‘six-figure sum for the council.’

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “The Council is facing extremely difficult financial circumstances. To address these, and to mitigate their impact, every avenue is being explored in relation to generating efficiencies, charging for services and other ways of generating income.

“In light of the Council’s difficult financial situation all opportunities to generate income need to be considered. The sale of the Council registration HS 0 presents the opportunity to generate a sizeable sum. In current circumstances it would be imprudent not to consider the sale of something which serves no real purpose and which, arguably, would be viewed by many as an unnecessary extravagance.”

The true value of the number plate is anyones guess, as the determining factor on the value of private registration plates varys greatly. In general, the less characters on the number plate, the higher the value. Private regis that spell out (or at least look like they spell out) a word or name also bumps up the price - the council hope HS can interpreted as initials for any number of rich celebrities.

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High-profile figures who could be putting a bid on the HS 0 registration plate could be pop superstar Harry Styles, or Strictly Come dancing finalist and former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton. Perhaps Stoke City footballer Harry Souttar, or England rugby star Henry Slade, maybe even double Oscar-winning American actress Hilary Swank.

The number plate will be up for sale soon (computer generated image)The number plate will be up for sale soon (computer generated image)
The number plate will be up for sale soon (computer generated image)

The 0 - apart from just looking cool - is also extremely rare to see on its own. When the first system of motor vehicle registration was introduced in the 1900s, a one or two letter prefix followed by a number with up to four digits was used to indicate which local authority issued the registration mark. HS was the prefix used for Renfrewshire.

Councillors will consider the proposal to proceed with the sale of the registration plate at a Cabinet meeting on January 26. If agreed, plans will then be taken forward to sell the plate at auction, with an appropriate reserve set to protect the Council’s interests.

In October last year, East Renfrewshire Council Leader Owen O’Donnell issued a warning to constituents after revealing a ‘£30m budget black hole’ is being faced by the local authority over the next three years. With the potential sale of the HS 0 number plate, it shows that the Council’s willing to do just about anything to avoid the massive impact budget savings will have on the people living in the council area.

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Announcing the budget engagement process last year, Councillor O’Donnell said: “We already know that the budget process over the next three years is going to be extremely challenging and will require some very difficult decisions to be made. The Council has already made savings of more than £80m since 2015-16, so to bridge a gap of a further £30m is going to be very difficult.”

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