North Devon Council had to chase up four members for late council tax
FOUR members of North Devon Council had to be sent reminder notices by their own authority in the past year after failing to make council tax payments on time.
One of the councillors, Combe Martin ward member Yvette Gubb, has admitted making a late payment.
However, the other three members have chosen not to divulge their names.
Figures obtained by the Journal show that four members of North Devon Council made a late or incomplete council tax payment between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012.
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The authority says it cannot name the councillors due to Data Protection laws.
One councillor, referred to as Councillor A, made three late payments in the past 12 months – one of which was more than a month overdue.
A payment of £82.31 was 38 days late while two payments of £78 were 24 days and 10 days late respectively.
Another member, referred to as Councillor D, failed to pay a half-yearly council tax instalment of £695 on time.
The member was issued a reminder notice and made the payment five days after it was due.
A member referred to as Councillor B was 13 days late for a payment of £225, while a member referred to as Councillor C made a payment of £158 seven days late.
No members of Torridge District Council made a late or incomplete payment in the past year.
The Journal contacted all 43 members of North Devon Council and asked if they were among the four councillors to make a late payment.
Combe Martin councillor Yvette Gubb admitted making a late payment in the past 12 months but refused to comment on the matter.
And 40 councillors denied they had made a late payment in the past year, despite the council's figures stating that just 39 had paid on time.
Two councillors refused to answer the Journal's question.
The results of the Journal's enquiries do not match North Devon Council's figures.
Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the national TaxPayers' Alliance group, said: "If residents can't trust their politicians to cough up for the council tax, how they can trust them to manage the local authority's budgets?
"Chasing people for the non-payment of council tax only serves to add to the council's bills.
"A councillor cannot claim to be a credible representative of the community when their own actions fall well short of what a council asks of its residents."
Mike Mansell, chief executive of North Devon Council, said it was important to take councillors' personal circumstances into account.
He said: "As with anyone else, sometimes late payments do unfortunately occur.
"Of these four councillors, all have paid their outstanding balances, three of which were within two weeks.
"It's also important to put into context the full picture for North Devon, with the authority collecting more than £48 million in council tax payments between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012.
"However, during this same period, a total of 17,334 reminder letters were sent out to people across the district who had not paid on time.
"Of course, there is one way that individuals and councillors can reduce the risk of making late payments and that is by setting up a direct debit."
Council tax for an average band D property in North Devon is around £1,540 per year. All members of North Devon Council are paid an annual basic allowance of £4,570.
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