Council set to sell valuable number plate to help tackle budget gap
Unique HS 0 registration could fetch six-figure sum
Published: 18 January 2023
The 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 owns the car registration plate HS 0, which was given to the old Eastwood District Council many years ago.
It has not been in use since the lease on the Council's car ended in 2022, and has now been identified as a potential way to generate a capital receipt for the Council, in the face of an extremely tough financial landscape.
Given the uniqueness of the registration plate, it is thought that its sale could generate a six-figure sum for the council.
A 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 determining factor on the value of private number plates can vary. Generally, the fewer characters on a registration number, the higher the value. Registration numbers that can spell a word also attract a high value, as well as those which have an individual's initials being very popular.
With the HS 0 plate now potentially set to become available, there are a number of high-profile public figures it may attract interest from. Among those that might fancy adding HS 0 to their car are global pop superstar Harry Styles or Strictly Come Dancing finalist and former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton. Stoke City footballer Harry Souttar, who hails from Aberdeen but represented Australia at the 2022 World Cup, may also fancy getting in on the action. England rugby star Henry Slade, who has 50 international caps, may also be someone who could be in the market for a new number plate. Another, perhaps less-likely, option is double Oscar-winning American actress Hilary Swank.
What is particularly unusual in terms of the Council's number plate is the use of the number zero on its own. Most registration numbers will start from 1 and the fact that the council's registration number contains zero on its own makes it extremely rare.
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 26 January. 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 stark warning to residents 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 outlines the Council's commitment to leaving no stone unturned in a bid to minimise the impact of the budget savings which need to be made.
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.'