Eight face court over coun­cil tax debts

Midweek Visiter - - News -

EIGHT peo­ple were re­cently sum­moned to ap­pear in court for fail­ing to pay coun­cil tax. One man had not paid any for al­most five years – and now owes more than £5,300 to Sefton Coun­cil.

War­rants were is­sued for six peo­ple af­ter they failed to at­tend South Sefton Mag­is­trates’ Court on Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 24.

The two who did at­tend were given pay­ment plans, with new court dates set for Jan­uary next year.

Coun­cil tax debt is not a crime, but mag­is­trates can still jail those with coun­cil tax ar­rears for up to three months.

More than 60 peo­ple were locked up in Eng­land and Wales in 2016-17.

Coun­cil tax pays for lo­cal ser­vices, such as trans­port, po­lice, fire, li­braries, leisure and recre­ation, rub­bish col­lec­tion and dis­posal, en­vir-on­men­tal health and trad­ing stan­dards.

A spokesman for Sefton Coun­cil said: “We will al­ways do our best to col­lect what is rightly owed to us and feel we of­fer many valu­able ser­vices through the in­come we re­ceive from our coun­cil tax and busi­ness rates.

“For rare cases like these to get to the

Non-pay­ment of coun­cil tax is not a crime – but mag­is­trates can still send non-pay­ers to prison for up to three months court stage, the coun­cil will have at­tempted all other op­tions, in­clud­ing re­minder let­ters, fi­nal no­tices and re­cov­ery ac­tion, be­fore­hand.“We treat the courts as a very last re­sort.“Ev­ery­one who is re­quired to pay their coun­cil tax and busi­ness rate bills should do so, and any­one who is strug­gling should con­tact us di­rectly where we can try and help.”Fail­ure to pay on time could re­sult in your lo­cal coun­cil tak­ing re­cov­ery ac­tion against you. Fol­low­ing this, you could then be sum­moned to court.Chris Hen­ley, QC, chair of the Crim­i­nal Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “Non-pay­ment of coun­cil tax is anti-so­cial, and costs the pub­lic purse, but im­pris­on­ment is wholly dis­pro­por­tion­ate to the harm caused.“There are many sig­nif­i­cant and more ap­prop-ri­ate penal­ties short of im­pris­on­ment that should be im­posed, whether at­tach­ment of earn­ings or­ders, un­paid com-mu­nity work, or cur­few or­ders.“Ev­ery prison place costs a small for­tune and can have very neg­a­tive con­se­quences on close fam­ily, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren.”IF you are strug­gling to pay your coun­cil tax, con­tact Sefton Coun­cil, who will be able to as­sist and ad­vise you fur­ther.

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