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!