Cornish councillors named and shamed
Feb 2012 01

More Cornish councillors have been named and shamed for not paying their council tax, thanks to the diligent work of the Falmouth Packet newspaper and BBC Radio Cornwall. All four councillors had to be taken to court to get the payments out of them.

Cllr Sasha Gillard-Loft owed £210 when Bodmin magistrates issued a liability order against her in 2010. She claimed financial hardship but only weeks before the court order she had voted against the council’s proposed budget—a potential breach of the Local Government Finance Act, which bans councillors from voting on budgets when they are in arrears with the council tax. She could face a fine of £1000.

Cllr Alex Folkes had three liability orders against him, having even forgotten the third one during an interview on the subject. The council had to take him to court twice in 2010 and once in 2011 for not paying council tax between March and September 2010. He later said: ‘It was wrong of me. I didn’t prioritise it.’ Cllr Jan Powell’s husband, Tony, a former Mayor of Liskeard, was responsible for the £833.85 summons but claimed he had no knowledge of it to begin with. He then offered to pay the money in instalments. Cllr Chris Pasco owned the most money, a sum of £1800, which was the subject of a liability order in 2011.

None of these councillors’ names were revealed by Cornwall Council following Freedom of Information requests. They refused to identify them, claiming it would be a breach of data protection laws. Journalists, however, found the names by ploughing through magistrates’ court records.

To reach the point where these councillors have already ignored several council reminder notices so that taxpayers’ money has to be spent to bring them to the court, indicates a wilful disregard of the rules that they would expect everyone else to abide by, or a level of personal chaos that makes you wonder if they are fit to hold public office and run our affairs for us. Either way, they deserve to be named and shamed!

Tim is Grassroots Coordinator for Bath and the South-West. He is an historian, author and veteran local campaigner.

  • Lab246

    They should not be allowed to stand for office, or perhaps the money could be taken directly from the allowances they get.

  • johnd2008

    Failure to pay Council Tax should automatically disqualify anyone from serving as a Councillor.I agree that any arrears should be taken from their allowances.

  • Chris Whitehouse

    The vast majority of the daily parliamentary papers could just as easily be published only online – written questions, Early Day Motions, advance notice of oral questions etc. The cost saving would be colossal.

    Chris Whitehouse
    Managing Director
    The Whitehouse Consultancy

    • MooG

      Agreed. The Government is doing a lot opening up and digitising its external bureaucracy but they should really take the opportunity to look at the internal stuff too.

      It’d also be a wonderful leveller – could bring the machinations of parliament truly into the public spotlight

  • MooG

    So it’s either the councillors’ fault, and so they are unfit for office, or it’s the council tax system’s fault, and so the system should be reformed.

    Either way, we win, right?

  • Anonymous

    Reading the WGA, there are two major flaws.

    1. Even though the liability for civil service pensions has gone up, they are still fiddling the figures. First is the use of AA corporate bonds. It’s a liability, so you should use an equivalent liability rate to discount, not an asset. Even the use of AA corporate bonds is bonkers because they assume they never, ever default. 

    2. The state pension and the state second pension are missing on the liability side, but because there is a cash surplus on the revenue, that gets included. 

    Bernie Maddoff and Enron spring to mind. 

  • Blarg1987

    It is interesting hou you include PFI as a Labout legacy let’s not forget it was the Conservative goverment that intoduced PFI to us all, granted Labour did not cancel it, but neither has the current coalition.

    WIth regards to public sector pensions and old age pension, how is this worked out, is it based on nobody paying in and retiring tomorow include new starters and based on inflation untill the last person dies as SOME scheems are unfunded but other schemes are funded and not a liability to the tax payer, but without a full breakdown of costs, in extreme detail, which no media outlet or organisation has provided it is impossible to make an informed decsion on such an issue I hope you and other organisations will bear this in mind.

  • Dave

    Off topic a bit- but.
    Last Summer Northants County Council announced that it was switching off half the street lights in order to save money. (They could have cut councillor’s expenses and the CEO’s non-contributory pension but that’s another story). The lights were switched off and we all stumbled around in the gloom. The light outside my house was hastily switched back on after a lady fell over and cut her head. This week contractors have been installing shiny new lights in our street and taking away the old lamp posts. They are only replacing the lights that were left on. This apparently is a PFI deal between the county council and Balfour Beatty. What I’d like to know is this- which came first- the decision to switch off half the lights, or the decision to sign a PFI agreement to hand over the lighting of Northants streets to Balfour Beatty. Someone is making some serious money here. I wonder who?

  • Rory Meakin

    Excellent point.
    We’ve already called for National Insurance to be merged with Income Tax. See our report at