Brentwood councillor sent court summons for not paying council tax
A Brentwood councillor has been issued with a court summons for failing to pay his or her Council Tax.
They are the citizens elected to decide how to use other residents’ Council Tax – but The Recorder can reveal that two councillors are currently in arrears with their own payments, and one has been issued with the court summons over the matter.
But voters cannot find out who those representatives are because Freedom of Information officers at the council refused to name the individuals involved, stating that to do so would breach the Data Protection Act.
The response states that two are still currently in arrears, two have been sent reminders in the last two years, and one issued with the summons.
Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Residents will be shocked that one of their local councillors has been taken to court for not paying their Council Tax.
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“Part of a councillor’s job is to decide tax rates and make budget decisions, the council constitution makes it clear they have a duty to set an example by paying on time and in full. The failure to pay will create costs that taxpayers will end up picking up the tab for, local politicians not paying their bills can’t claim to be credible representatives of the community they seek to represent.”
The problem of late payment could actually bar the councillor from doing their job.
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Brentwood Council’s constitution bans a member more than two months in arrears from taking part in any council meeting relating to Council Tax, budget setting or Council Tax collection.
It adds that failure to comply with the ban “renders councillors liable to prosecution.”
Freedom of Information officers at the council said: “Enforcement of Council Tax collection applies to every citizen in the borough including council members.
“Full details on how to pay Council Tax, when reminder notices are issued and what happens if you do not pay are available on the council’s website.”
Residents – including those elected to the council – who have trouble paying the tax can apply for benefits to help them avoid a court summons.
Two councillors currently live outside Brentwood and so have their Council Tax collected by other authorities.