EXCLUSIVE: Two more Northampton councillors admit they were in council tax arrears
Two more councillors have admitted they still had council tax bills left to pay as of this year following the Chron's investigation
Cabinet member for community Safety, Councillor Anna King (Con, Phippsville) and Labour Councillor Muna Cali (Lab, Castle) have both admitted to the Chronicle & Echo they had owed council tax relating to the 2015/16 financial year.
The news comes a day after council leader Councillor Jonathan Nunn, revealed he had missed two tax bills on the 2015/16 year.
Councillor King said she struggled financially after the charity she worked for closed last May.
She said: “I did owe some money but it’s now cleared.
“I was a single parent, I didn’t have enough to pay.”
Councillor King says she cannot remember the total figure she owed and will now be available to vote during the February budget setting meeting.
She added that she works “extremely hard” in her cabinet post and said her absence at last year’s meeting was as a result of illness, not because of the council tax issue.
“We have the same problems as everyone else. I’m sorry it’s happened, but no-one wants to be in arrears,” she added.
Councillor Cali, who was the first to make an admission on Tuesday night, says she will almost certainly miss the February budget setting meeting as a result of her existing £1,000 arrears.
She said her council tax bill dates back to her pre-councillor days and said she faced hardship after moving in as a carer for her disabled mother.
She is currently clearing the debt directly from her councillor’s allowance, but has apologised to those who voted for her. She will now likely miss her second budget meeting running as a result of her debt.
She said: “If I could make this disappear I would. All I can say is , look, I’m a human being, I make mistakes and I ask for their forgiveness.
“I would advise other councillors to be honest too. Council tax is so important in this country.”
The Chron pursued the matter of unpaid taxes after a Private Eye investigation revealed seven elected members of Northampton Borough Council had to be sent reminders to pay their dues in 2015/16.
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.
The budget meeting is one of the most important in the council calender and it is crucial elected officials attend.
But as some councillors make arrangements to pay their tax debts through their own councillor allowances, and after the Information Commisioner recently made Leeds City Council reveal the names of elected embers sent tax reminders, we felt it worth pursuing in the interests of local government transparency.
A poll revealed 92 per cent of our readers felt the same way too.
Meanwhile, four councillors now remain to come forward.
Though many will have strong mitigating circumstances, we feel the people who voted them in deserve to know the truth.
The borough when initially asked, stated: “Since the council tax arrears are being paid on the agreed basis by the councillors involved, it would not be appropriate to name them.”