WALTER CRONXITE on a new report that shows that in neighbouring boroughs, some councillors have not been punctual in paying their Council Tax bills
Yet further evidence has emerged that Croydon Council Tax-payers may be forking out far too much in “allowances” to the the many councillors who are supposed to represent residents at the Town Hall, since Croydon turns out to be one of the few boroughs in south London where the local authority has not had to issue any reminders to its elected councillors for late payment of Council Tax.
There’s probably good reason why the councillors – 39 Labour, 30 Tory and one independent on the naughty step – are up to date with their Council Tax payments: between them they receive a grand £1,456,862 per year in payments from the council, the highest figure paid out among all London boroughs.
Many Croydon councillors are hard-working, trying to cope with a soaring volume of casework, as they now take up some of the slack left by round after round of redundancies to council staff. Most receive a modest basic allowance of £11,239 per year.
But a small clique of cabinet members, including council leader Tony Newman, his deputy Alison Butler and close colleague Mark Watson can expect to bank £43,000 or more as a result of their “special responsibilities”.
Some councillors, including cabinet members, continue with their careers, as they are entitled to, conducting their council business in their “spare” time. This has no affect on the allowances that they are paid.
Meanwhile, some of their colleagues in other London boroughs are struggling to make ends meet.
Private Eye magazine’s excellent Rotten Boroughs section – in which the bad burghers of Sutton and Croydon’s Newman have been featured frequently this year – has done the donkey work, sending off Freedom of Information requests to the 377 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales that process council tax payments in the 2015-2016 tax year.
“We asked how many councillors received reminder letters, how many were summonsed to court, how many of those cases went ahead and how many councillors were subsequently banned from voting on their council’s budget. We asked for the names of those summonsed and those banned from voting. Some councils were very helpful and gave us all the information we asked for, while others were much less forthcoming,” they explain on their website.
Croydon is one of just 109 local authorities which had a clean bill of health.
Elsewhere, the picture was not quite so orderly, with a total of 157 elected councillors across the country being summonsed.
In Bradford City Council, for example, six councillors faced court summonses for failure to pay their Council Tax.
Of the national total, 16 councillors failed to pay their Council Tax (nor had the sums required deducted from their council-paid allowances) and were therefore disqualified from voting on their council’s budget – and therefore determining the Council Tax.
In Greater London, the only local authority where a councillor was banned from the budget vote was in Ealing.
But councillors in Croydon’s neighbouring boroughs in and around south London had a mixed record.
- In LibDem-run Sutton, three councillors needed to be sent reminders for failure to pay Council Tax. No further action was necessary.
- In Progress-controlled Lambeth, five councillors needed reminders to pay their Council Tax. No further action was necessary.
- In Tory-run Bromley, two reminders were issued, and they did the trick.
- The Conservative stronghold of Wandsworth issued three reminders to elected councillors, who then paid up.
- And in the property developer paradise of Southwark, five reminders were issued, without further action being required.
- But in Epsom and Ewell, Tory councillor Omer Kokou-Tchri was summonsed as owing £1,839.20, which was only paid after they appeared in court.
- And in Elmbridge, one now ex-councillor – who the Conservative-controlled local authority decided to protect by withholding their identity – paid a juicy £2,798.07 in Council Tax arrears, but only after being dragged into court.
So to all those 70 prompt Council Tax payers on Croydon Council: we salute you.
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