Pickles to speak to leader about councillors’ unpaid Council Tax

Eric Pickles has said he will speak to the leader of Brentwood Council about two councillors being issued with reminders for unpaid Council Tax.

Two weeks ago the Recorder revealed that two elected councillors were in arrears with their Council Tax and one had been given with a court summons over the matter.

The Brentwood and Ongar MP, who is also Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, branded the revelations ‘unacceptable’.

He said: “Usually when someone has fallen behind on their Council Tax it’s a sign that something is wrong. I will certainly be contacting the leader of the council to see if we can make enquiries as to why that has been.

“You expect councillors to set and maintain the collection of Council Tax and it’s unacceptable if some haven’t.”

The information came from a Freedom of Information request from the Recorder to Brentwood Council which included the questions: ‘how many councillors have been sent notices in the last two years?’, ‘how many are currently in arrears?’, and ‘how many have been issued with a court summons?’.

Two councillors had been issued with some form of reminder, two were still in arrears and one had been given the summons.

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Officers stated that the individuals could not be named due to the Data Protection Act.

The Liberal Democrat group, as well as the sole Independent and Labour councillors have declared that they have not fallen behind on their payments.

In a statement, council and Conservative group leader Cllr Louise McKinlay stated that no councillors remained in arrears, although she did not clarify the status of previous payments ruling party members.

The LibDems have asked the Managing Director of the council why councillors who fell behind were not banned from voting and attending meetings, as the council’s constitution stipulates.

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr David Kendall, said: “We are seeking answers, and as far as we’re concerned who they are should be out in the open, in the interests of transparency.”

Cllr McKinlay said: “There is an obligation placed upon all members of the public to ensure their Council Tax is paid and I believe that duty is even more important for councillors. I can confirm that there has been no breach of the council’s constitution, standing orders or the right to vote of any member.”

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