Brent councillors in late council tax payment gaffe

Nine were sent reminders for unpaid bills

Absent-minded councillors have being chased by their own officials for hundreds of pounds in unpaid council tax, the Times can reveal.

Nine councillors were sent reminders from Brent Council for late payment with seven needing a second reminder before coughing up the cash last year.

Ironically, the money that pays their allowances and expenses comes from council tax funds.

Despite their party ruling the town hall, four Labour councillors were given warnings for payments with two needing second reminders. A further three Liberal Democrats and two Conservatives also needed to be reminded twice before settling their bill.

A first reminder is issued to council taxpayers who fail to pay on time.

It gives them seven days to pay up with a second reminder if they fail to do so.

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If the bill is still outstanding a final warning will be issued, with those who ignore it being sent a court summons and a maximum sentence of three months in jail.

Councillors who are two months late paying tax are excluded from voting on decision affecting taxation.

But, despite admitting that one councillor owed the town hall over �400, the equivalent of over four months council tax, no-one has been barred.

The council refused to name the offending councillors, citing the data protection laws.

When the Times contacted the leaders of the three political parties asking them to name the forgetful councillors, all refused.

An email from a council officer had advised them to keep their identities secret.

Brent Tory councillor for Kenton ward, Reg Colwill said: “The real issue comes when a councillor does not pay for two months because that interferes with that person’s capacity to act on behalf of their representatives.”

Cllr Paul Lorber from the Lib Dems said: “Quite rightly councillors are treated in exactly the same way as any other resident when it comes to paying council tax bills.”

Cllr Ann John OBE, Brent Council leader, said she expected councillors to set a good example by paying on time.

She added: “I have checked and all Labour councillors are now up to date with their payments.”