Exclusive: Council tax arrears spans political divide

COUNCILLORS revealed to have run-up arrears on their council tax payments come from all the major parties and included members from every authority responding to a Freedom of Information request.

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira

Bradford led the way with eight councillors issued with a summons over the last two years, for amounts owed ranging from £679 to £1209.15. Former council leader David Green was one of the eight while Labour colleagues Arshad Hussain, who received allowances of nearly £26,000 according to the latest published figures for 2014/15, and Abid Hussain were both sent a summons for non-payment in each of the last two years.

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The number also included former Liberal Democrat councillor Ann Wallace was also sent a summons in both years while Conservative councillor Mark Shaw was issued with two summons in 2014/15 and another summons last year.

Ms Wallace and Coun Green said the arrears were due to personal circumstances, while the other councillors did not respond to a request to comment.

As well as the summonses, three other councillors were sent reminders for late payment. Virtually all the amounts owed by all 11 Bradford councillors have been paid off. Kirklees had five councillors who were sent summons, for amounts up to £1,186.16 and a further nine issued with reminders.

The council initially said it would not reveal who the councillors were. The decision was appealed more than a month ago and last night the authority said it did now intend to release information but could not do so until it had completed its internal process. In Hull, mother and daughter Liberal Democrats Cheryl and Ruth Payne were issued with a summons for being jointly liable for non-payment of £1,026.69 at the same address, while Independent member Richard Barrett received a summons for £366.89. None responded to a request to comment.

Three summonses were issued to councillors by East Riding Council, who also sent out eight reminders, but the authority declined to identify who they were or the amounts owed.

Scarborough Council issued two summons but said as one of the two councillors was no longer in office the information should be considered private. It did identify Sam Cross, current UKIP group leader, as being sent a summons for £1089.46 last year but added that this was for a property that was not his home and where tenants had run-up arrears without informing him. The bill has been paid off in full.

Current UKIP councillor Clive Stone received a summons from Doncaster Council, which he said was due to an oversight, while former UKIP councillor Stephanie Todd, who could not be contacted, also received one from Richmondshire. A further six Doncaster councillors were sent reminders along with another three from Richmondshire, including one sent a final notice for £1,350 arrears.

In Rotherham, Labour councillor Tajamal Khan, who could not be contacted, was issued with a summons for £1,128 last year while two others received final notices. Craven Council served a final notice on one councillor for £324 and had obtained a liability order from court against another councillor for £229 but refused to identify either.

North Lincolnshire Labour councillor Mashook Ali, who did not respond to a request to comment, was issued with a summons for £1390.62 last year. Other councils in the region did not send out summons but were still required to issue reminders or final notices to their councillors.

Calderdale sent out reminders to four councillors, including a final notice for £584. Five Wakefield and three Barnsley councillors were sent reminders.

Selby and York councils both sent reminders to four councillors while Harrogate sent to two. Hambleton Council sent reminders to the same councillor in both years and Ryedale sent one reminder last year.