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Havering councillors given final notices for unpaid Council Tax bills

PUBLISHED: 18:31 03 November 2011 | UPDATED: 18:36 03 November 2011

Cllr Michael-Deon Burton

Cllr Michael-Deon Burton

Archant

Two Havering councillors have been issued with final notices for unpaid Council Tax in the past two years, new figures show.

They are the citizens elected to decide how to spend other residents’ tax – but the Recorder can reveal that five have had to be issued with reminders to pay their own.

Three were sent second reminders, and two were given the final notices.

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.

All five of the councillors have since paid off their outstanding Council Tax. The notices were issued to them at various times between September 2009 and September this year.

Example

Emma Boon, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is shocking that councillors have failed to pay their Council Tax, yet their identities won’t be revealed.

“Chasing outstanding payments costs taxpayers money and those making decisions on spending our cash should at least set an example when it comes to paying taxes.

“Anyone can fall behind on their payments but a councillor will struggle to present themselves as a credible representative of the community when their own actions fall well short of what a council asks of its residents.”

The problem of late payment can actually bar the councillor from doing their job.

In March 2009, Cllr Michael-Deon Burton (Independent Residents’ Group, South Hornchurch) was disqualified from voting on the council’s budget because he was in arrears.

He was teased in the council chamber by other councillors, and branded “highly hypocritical” at the time.

But the new figures show that since Cllr Burton was barred from the vote, five more councillors have fallen behind on their payments.

Cllr Burton, who said his late payments followed falling into financial difficulties following a split from his partner, said he was not issued with a final notice.

He said: “I believe any fair-minded person looking at the demonstrable facts would not be unreasonable in believing that I was treated unfairly and with unnecessary ferocity.”


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