EXCLUSIVE: Leader of Northampton Borough Council missed two council tax payments because he was in financial difficulty
The Tory leader of NorthamptonÂ Borough Council has issued an apology after revealing he was one of the seven councillors who had to beÂ sent a reminder to pay council tax, because he was "skint."
Councillor Jonathan Nunn (Con, Nene Valley) has come clean about the fact he missed around Â£200 in tax payments in the 2015/16 financial year.
The admission this afternoon comes after an investigation by the Chronicle & Echo based on information from Private Eye revealed seven councillors had to be sent reminders in the same year, three of whom still have an outstanding balance to clear.
Last week, the Chron put in a Freedom of Information request to name the councillors who missed payments.
After being asked directly by the Chron this afternoon, Councillor Nunn admitted his missed payments in 2015 - before he was leader - and described the omissions as "deeply regrettable."
He said: "Quite simply I've been skint during the last couple of years.
"I had difficulties with the business and this was all just a catching-up exercise - this wasn't limited to just paying my council tax.
"Everyone should keep it up to date, of course.
"But anyone that can't pay has to make an arrangement. The key thing is to make that arrangement and keep it up to date."
Councillor Nunn's firm, Individual Team Performance Limited owed the Inland Revenue more than Â£20,000 when it folded two years ago and he said his financial difficulties came as a result of that.
The Chron has pursued the matter of council tax payments because councillors who have two outstanding council tax bills a the time of the February budget setting meeting - one of the key meetings in a local authority's calendar year - are barred from voting.
Under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, a councillor cannot vote on certain financial matters, mainly regarding council tax and the budget, if they are more than two months in arrears. If they are, they have to declare it, and leave the meeting
Yesterday, 92 per cent of Chron readers agreed the seven councillors issued reminders should be named in an online poll. More than 500 voted via our website.
Councillor Nunn did vote in the last budget meeting as he says he had cleared his bill by then with a debit card payment.
He said the outstanding bill did not impair his ability to lead the council "in any way."
He said: "Everybody should be up to date with their council tax payments and certainly a councillor should.
"But we have these things come along - for some, life happens.
"I can say I am completely in touch with people who say they are totally 'brassic'. That's not me trying to take a positive spin on this in any way, because the situation is deeply regrettable."