Ealing Council drags two councillors to court for council tax arrears

Freedom of information (FoI) requests have revealed that despite pocketing thousands of pounds in allowances from Ealing Council, funded by people who pay their council tax, three Ealing councillors were in arrears with their own council tax last year to an extent that impacted on their ability to do their job. The Council has revealed that it had to take two of them to court to recover the tax while the third one coughed up eventually.

However, despite being in arrears themselves, all three attended a council meeting where a decision was taken to remove financial support for payment of council tax from Ealing residents on low incomes. At the meeting on 5/1/16 none of the three councillors disclosed their council tax arrears and each one took part in the vote to revise the local council tax support scheme.

Under s106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, members of a local authority must not attend meetings where matters relating to council tax are under consideration if they owe council tax that has remained unpaid for two months or more, or where they do, they should disclose it and not vote. All three of the councillors owed two months or more council tax on 5/1/16 and voted. It is believed this was in contravention of the law and the matter has now been referred to Ealing’s Chief Executive, Paul Nasjarek, for possible action.

FoI responses reveal that a Northolt councillor shockingly owed almost a full year’s council tax which they did not disclose when taking part in the contentious vote to withdraw support from some of Ealing’s poorest residents.

Further, the arrears prevented the same councillor from attending the Council’s yearly council tax setting meeting on 23/2/16, meaning they were unable to carry out one of their most important duties as an elected representative.

According to Ealing Council court proceedings were taken against the Northolt councillor and another, said to represent Ealing Common ward, and costs were awarded against both of them. The third councillor was said to represent Ealing Broadway ward. Following court action and FOI requests all three have since cleared their arrears.

Council tax is needed to pay for vital public services. For a councillor to be unable to fulfil the duties they were elected to fulfil because they haven’t paid their council tax is shameful, particularly when other council tax payers are paying them to carry out those duties. Voting to change council tax collection policy to make others pay more when they haven’t paid themselves is rank hypocrisy and hits a new low for politicians.

**UPDATE***********

The councillors involved are;

  • Labour’s Cllr Natasha Ahmed Sheikh, representing Northolt Mandeville ward who received approximately £16,000 in allowances the year she failed to pay her council tax on time
  • Lib Dem’s Cllr John Ball, representing Ealing Common ward who received approximately £10,000 in allowances that year
  • Cllr Seema Kumar, representing Ealing Broadway ward who received approximately £16,000 in allowances that year.