Councillors chased on unpaid tax bills

Town halls across the county issued tax reminders to elected members
Town halls across the county issued tax reminders to elected members

Town halls across the county had to send reminders to their own elected members about late council tax payments, according to new data.

In Preston and Chorley, councillors were then issued with court summonses after failing to pay up after being prompted.

Only South Ribble and Ribble Valley authorities were not required to send out reminders in 2016/17.

West Lancashire District Council was among the worst areas in the country, having issued 10 reminders. Wyre and Blackpool each sent out two but no further action was required. Fylde issued one.

Councillors who are in arrears with their tax payments are not able to vote on their local authority’s budget.

In Preston, three reminders were issued, one of which led to a court summons for Liberal Democrat member for Cadley Coun Stephen Mullen.

Coun Mullen said: “Due to financial difficulties during the period when I was unemployed and later starting self-employment I fell behind (on payments). My current council tax is paid on time via direct debit and I have been paying off the arrears in instalments. As per the law I leave the council chamber and do not vote (on council tax items).”

Chorley’s trio issued with summonses represent the same ward: Clayton-le-Woods North, for Labour. Couns Steve Murfitt (£570) and Jean Cronshaw (£64) paid up after being prompted, the figures show.

Coun Murfitt said the missed payment was an “oversight” that was swiftly rectified. Coun Cronshaw said she missed a payment when she was in hospital and cleared it at the earliest opportunity.

Coun Charlie Bromilow had an unpaid bill of £1074.71 with a payment plan agreed following a court hearing.

She said the bill has been settled and the missed payment related to a time when she was off work.