A report produced by the Essex Coalition For Council Tax Revenue Protection has revealed that there are more than 10,000 homes and businesses within the borough of Southend registered as ‘places of worship.’ This status means that they are exempt from paying both council tax and business rates.
Neil Fortflie, chairman of the ECFCTRP, told Southend News Network that he was ‘around 90% certain’ that a significant number of these property owners were abusing the system.
He added: ‘A leaked email was passed over to our team, and an attached spreadsheet contained a list with every council tax-exempt property in Southend using the ‘place of worship’ label. Although we have nothing against legitimate religious buildings qualifying for this status, our investigators found that some people are clearly mislabelling their properties.’
‘For example, Deirdre’s Doggy Delights in London Road has a registered company name of ‘Deirdre’s Doggy Delights and Islamic Cultural Centre.’ When we arrived at the premises, there was a tiny room at the back of the shop with the word ‘mosk’ attached to it. This was a giveaway that things were not all quite above board.’
‘The real tipping point for our team was when we attended Harry’s Ham, Gammon and Bacon Emporium in Chalkwell and found a shed out the back that had been converted into a synagogue. They were even paying a guy with a hat and a long beard to mumble broken Hebrew for three hours a day.’
‘One of our researchers is Israeli, and she secretly recorded him saying: ‘Moses took the tablets on Mount Sinai, for there were two of them, and he returned to the desert floor and proclaimed Vauxhall Zafira to his parrot. For this Passover shall forever Geoffrey Boycott tortoise Kursaal bowl goldfish Neil Diamond.’
‘They claimed that the 8ft X 4ft wooden building was an Orthodox Jewish building, but with the single level there is no way that men and women could be segregated. This made our team very suspicious.’
‘We have passed this information on to Southend Borough Council for their immediate and urgent investigation.’
A spokesperson for Southend Borough Council said: ‘Council tax and business rates fraud costs our borough more than £350m a year, and this report may well provide some answers about why this figure is so high.’
‘When we catch up with these serial offenders who are ‘praying for our continued blind eye,’ they had better pop back in and say another one as we will show them no mercy whatsoever.’
In a shocking late development, the continued dig at the site of the Saxon King discovery has uncovered a document that could confirm that the entire borough of Southend On Sea is an ancient tribal Native American burial ground.
If the document proclaiming the existence of the tribal Prittlewellokomkom sacred lands between Leigh On Sea and Shoeburyness is genuine, it would give any Southend resident or business the right to declare their property as a sacred and religious council tax-exempt site.