Council tax arrears owed by councillors

SIX current or former councillors in Hartlepool owed the local authority hundreds of pounds in unpaid council tax, it has been reported.

The revelations come as Hartlepool Borough Council is looking to shave £14m from its budget over the next three years with cuts to both services and jobs.

It has been reported that the number of councillors in Hartlepool sent reminders about unpaid council tax was six.

In total they owed £1,363.36 in unpaid council tax.

Meanwhile, it has also been reported that three of the six councillors have been sent two or more reminders for late payment.

The identities of those councillors have not been released.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said that councillors may struggle to pay their bills the same as anyone else and help and support is always available.

Mayor Drummond said: “If they are in financial difficulty then they would be treated the same as anybody else. Anyone that is in arrears is treated the same way and there is no discrimination.

“Our collection rate is very high, more than 99 per cent, but some people do have difficulty paying their bills and that is especially the case in the current climate.

“If anyone does get in trouble then I would urge people to contact the council at the earliest opportunity.”

It is not clear what time period the unpaid council tax debts relate to and whether or not the money is owed by those still serving as councillors.

When asked whether councillors should take their allowance while at the same time not fully contributing to the council tax pot, Mayor Drummond said it was difficult to comment.

He added: “It is difficult to comment without knowing people’s individual circumstances.”

Earlier this year, the Mail reported that finance chiefs are still chasing council tax arrears worth a staggering £2m.

The council has collected 99.5 per cent of the £375m it has billed people for council tax since the current system was brought in 18 years ago.

In February, there was still an outstanding balance of £2m, with the vast majority of debts relating to the past two to three years.

But council chiefs say some of the debts date back several years.

For council tax enquiries, call the council on (01429) 284277.