Northampton Borough refuses Chron's FOI to name the councillors who still owe tax

The Chronicle & Echo's Freedom of Information request to name those councillors who still owe council tax bills has been refused.
The Chronicle & Echo's Freedom of Information request to name those councillors who still owe council tax bills has been refused.
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A Freedom of Information request to find out which of Northampton's borough councillors have not paid their council tax has been refused.

In January the Chronicle & Echo revealed seven members of Northampton Borough Council had to be issued a reminder to pay their council tax after missing two bills in the 2015/16 year.

After further inquiries were made, council leader Jonathan Nunn revealed he had missed two payments shortly after his business went bust in 2015.

His admission was followed by fellow cabinet member for community Safety, Councillor Anna King (Con, Phippsville) and Labour Councillor Muna Cali (Lab, Castle) who both said they came to be in arrears through a period of financial difficulty.

The Chron issued a Freedom of Information to name the remaining four councillors, as a borough spokeswoman had said four still had outstanding balances.

But council officers have turned down the request to name the full seven and those with outstanding bills.

In a case between journalists in Bolton and their local council, that it was "reasonable for councillors to expect that recent failure to pay council tax in a private capacity was likely to impact on their public role and so they should reasonably expect that they may be identified."

However, the Commissioner also ruled "each case should be judged on its merit," and said a councillor's "mitigating circumstances could significantly impact on whether disclosure of a councillor’s name would be fair."

This is because the nature of the circumstances in a particular case may "increase a councillor’s expectation that they would not be publicly named”.

When asked whether the council could name those who still owe tax, and are thus barred from voting on financial matters, Northampton Borough Council told the Chron it "does not release the names of councillors who have been sent reminder notices under section 40(1) of the FOI Act."