Flat row councillor faced summons over tax arrears

A COUNCILLOR who has been ordered to leave her council flat by the authority on which she serves was last year taken to court over a failure to pay council tax, it has emerged.

York Council was forced to issue a court summons to Councillor Lynn Jeffries in July last year when she failed to pay council tax totalling £694.57.

Coun Jeffries, who speaks on housing matters for the Liberal Democrat group on York Council, yesterday told the Yorkshire Post that the arrears were a result of a period of ill health and had now been paid.

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The detail of the legal action taken over her council tax affairs has emerged after a York County Court hearing last week when the authority again had to resort to legal action as it tries to evict the councillor from the flat where she is currently living.

It is understood that York Council secured a possession order although it has yet to be carried out.

The council’s director of communities and neighbourhoods, Sally Burns, said: “We are not able to comment on specific cases but can confirm that our housing procedures are applied in a consistent way.

“The only factors that determine how decisions are made are those incorporated in the council’s housing policy.

“In cases where we cannot directly house individuals or families, we will continue to support them to resolve their accommodation needs.”

Coun Jeffries said last week that she was involved in a dispute with the council over her “housing status” and she was seeking an “amicable solution”.

Responding to questions over her unpaid council tax last year, she said yesterday: “During a very difficult time in my personal life last year when I was dealing with a series of health problems some issues arose, including falling behind with my council tax.

“However, after a lengthy spell in hospital last November I am returning to full health and resolving things.

“This has included repaying fully the outstanding council tax owed.”

The dispute over Coun Jeffries’s right to stay in her council flat has emerged just weeks after she was appointed to the Liberal Democrats’ shadow cabinet as the political group’s spokeswoman for communities, housing and equalities.

She was first elected as a Labour councillor for the Westfield ward in 2011, one of three Labour gains in the ward from the Liberal Democrats.

However, last year she left the group arguing she did not agree with the way it was running the city.

After a spell as an independent she joined the Liberal Democrats in May this year, becoming a shadow cabinet member shortly afterwards.

A spokeswoman for York Council said the authority could not comment on the council tax matter.