Conservative councillor Patrick Warner has failed to pay his own council tax bill – for the second time.
The member for Sovereign ward has had to be taken to court twice for not paying the bill on his Eastbourne home.
The latest summons was this week when magistrates at Hastings dealt with 1,300 non-payers from Eastbourne.
A liability order was made by the magistrates in respect of Councillor Warner’s bill and he has been ordered to pay the whole bill for 2013/14 between now and November.
Eastbourne Borough Council has refused to confirm Councillor Warner was among the list of 1,300, but when the Herald contacted the councillor he admitted it was the second time he had received a court summons for non payment of council tax and issued a statement.
He said since he became unemployed in August 2012 when his business collapsed owing thousands of pounds to local creditors. He said he has struggled to find work in the difficult economic times and because of sporadic short term work, had difficulty keeping on top of routine payments.
Councillor Warner said he reached an agreement with the council to spread a small amount of arrears from the 2012/13 financial year over January, February and March to bring his council tax account up to date by April.
He said he had difficulty paying April and May’s council tax but did offer to pay the two months at the end of May when he received his first payment from a new employer but by which time the council had begun to start court action.
Councillor Warner said, “I have agreed to this and have committed to make the remaining payments as requested which will see me finish paying my council tax several months before other members of the public if they pay on a monthly direct debit arrangement.”
Councillor Warner believes his case was “escalated unnecessarily” when his offer could have been accepted without the need for court action.
“I am staggered to learn 1,300 other residents have been treated similarly and I wonder how many of these had offered similar sensible and workable payment arrangements that would have prevented the council waiting longer for council tax payments, lead to less stress being suffered by the individuals concerned and unnecessary court action being taken which will have damaged their credit records.
“While I accept there will be some people who will assume all politicians are the same and have little sympathy for my plight, I would seek to point out we are not all the stereotypical out of touch politicians who bring in large allowances on top of a large salary.”
Leader of the Conservatives on Eastbourne Borough Council, Dave Elkin said, “We are sad to hear of Councillor Warner’s predicament with council tax, which is a personal matter between him and the council.
“As my group has only very recently been made aware of this situation, we will be meeting Monday to discuss any implications to our group and any action we may need to take.”