Leader defends councillors over unpaid tax bills

Blackpool Town Hall
Blackpool Town Hall
  • Council leader has used a town hall debate to defend councillors who failed to pay their council tax on time
  • Seven councillors had failed to pay their council tax on time in 2013/14
  • Reminders, final demands and even a court summons were sent out to seven councillors
  • Council chiefs said all seven councillors have now paid up their arrears, which totalled £2,795
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Blackpool’s council leader has used a town hall debate to defend councillors who failed to pay their council tax on time.

Coun Simon Blackburn said members were from the same walks of life as the people they represent, and sometimes suffered similar financial hardships.

Council leader Simon Blackburn

Council leader Simon Blackburn

The Gazette reported earlier this month that seven councillors had failed to pay their council tax on time in 2013/14.

Reminders, final demands and even a court summons were sent out to seven councillors, according to figures uncovered by a Freedom of Information request.

Council chiefs said all seven councillors, who were identified only as councillors A-G, have now paid up their arrears, which totalled £2,795.

In one case, a summons was issued to a councillor for more than £1,185 in unpaid tax.

We have all been tarred with the same brush

Coun Maxine Callow told a full meeting of the council: “The people out there are saying, ‘who is it?’. If they had gone along to the appropriate officer and explained the situation, perhaps something could have been done to help.

“We have all been tarred with the same brush.”

Coun Peter Callow said he was concerned some councillors had clearly been unable to manage their own finances, and yet were meant to be looking after the town’s finances. He said: “What are they doing here?”

But Coun Blackburn stressed all councillors had paid up.

Coun Maxine Callow

Coun Maxine Callow

He said: “I don’t know who these people are.

“We are like the people we represent, we live in the communities we represent and we have the same financial troubles they have.

“A few people might have been a few days late in paying their council tax and I make no apology for that.”

The FOI, which did not reveal the names of the councillors involved, also revealed the council was still chasing £3m in unpaid council tax from 2013/14.

The council pursues arrears for up to six years and only writes them off as a last resort, usually for bankruptcy or if the person in arrears has died.