Councillor refuses to quit over tax shame

Cllr Patrick Warner 25th May 2011 E21148M
Cllr Patrick Warner 25th May 2011 E21148M

Local Conservatives are standing by their councillor who failed to pay his council tax on two occasions.

Party colleagues on Eastbourne Borough Council and at the Eastbourne Conservative Association say Patrick Warner, who represents Sovereign on Eastbourne Borough Council, still has their support.

Councillor Warner has twice been taken to court by the council for not paying his council tax bill and in a statement last week said that since he became unemployed in August 2012 and after his business collapsed owing thousands of pounds to local creditors, he had “struggled to find work in the difficult economic times and because of sporadic short term work, had difficulty keeping on top of routine payments”.

He has now agreed to pay this year’s council tax between June and November – although Councillor Warner has said he will not stand down and has no intention of resigning.

A meeting was held on Monday of Conservative councillors and after the meeting party leader David Elkin said the party was standing by Councillor Warner.

“It was a private matter between Councillor Warner and Eastbourne Borough Council that we are assured has been fully resolved to the satisfaction of both parties,” said Councillor Elkin.

Ian Lucas, chairman of the Eastbourne Conservatives Association said the association echoed the sentiments of the Conservative councillors.

“Patrick has sorted out his issues with the council and the association stands full square behind him,” said Mr Lucas. “He is an excellent councillor for Sovereign ward, a hard worker and a decent man. Many local people are suffering at the moment with the state of the economy and councillors are not immune to this. We are advised that he is up to date with his payments and there is no further action that the association can or wants to make.”

Eastbourne Borough Council chiefs have refused to confirm whether Councillor Warner was among 1,300 residents taken to court recently for not paying their council tax.

This week a spokesperson said, “The council does not comment on individual cases concerning the non-payment of council tax. The council will continue to take appropriate action to ensure the maximum amount of council tax is recovered.

“Delays in collection or non-recovery of debts can lead to higher council tax bills being passed on to other residents who pay promptly and in accordance with the statutory instalment scheme.”

The council has also refused to reveal whether any action will be taken against Councillor Warner under the standards rules of conduct for councillors.