Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 19, 2018

Cllr Currie Questions Elected Member Council Tax Arrears

Aughton & Downholland Cllr Currie  has tweeted “West Lancs is one of the worst boroughs in the country for cllrs paying council tax late or being in arrears. What does everyone think: is it right that councillors who are in arrears (effectively in debt to the tax payer) can still claim allowances? Please vote and retweet”. We can but wonder why this “vote” doesn’t include another question “Is it right for Currie’s friend Cllr Moon to receive two allowances for part-time attendance in two boroughs?”  

Perhaps Cllr Currie should know without asking if it is right for councillors in arrears with their own council tax to still claim allowances? Currie receives the same member bumph they all receive. But why ask the public? He should have asked the Borough Solicitor, as I did, about voting on the budget, and he would have received the reply I did, which did not relate to members still claiming allowances because that is not an issue in such cases, presumably because it is despite ALL of the members’ income including allowances that a personal financial difficulty could or did arise. 

The Solicitor wrote “The relevant requirements of the legislation can be summarised as follows. Where members of a local authority have a sum falling due in respect of Council Tax (or Community Charge), which has become payable and has remained unpaid for at least two months, then that member is required to disclose that fact to the relevant meeting and is prevented from voting on any question in respect of the matter. This concerns specific categories of matters, and not all matters, the relevant ones are:–1 any calculation of Council Tax liability; 2. any recommendation, resolution or other decision which might affect the making of any such calculation; or 3. the excise of any function of like affect relating to Community Charge.

“Item 3 is included to fully reflect the statute – but is unlikely in practice to be relevant. As you will see this does not remove the right to speak at such meetings. Where relevant facts are established for breaching requirements then a “summary only” offence may be established and a level 3 fine (maximum of £1000) may be imposed.

“Relevant advice and reminders are provided to members in regard to the legislative requirements. It is a matter for the relevant member to take action in accordance with the legislation having regard to their own circumstances. The terms of the legislation set out when a member cannot vote (see above) which addresses the questions you have raised, i.e. when the bar to voting would apply and when it would end”.

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