Row over village council tax error

UNHAPPY: Adam Foster is angry that the Parish Council for its 7.85 percent rise in council tax.
UNHAPPY: Adam Foster is angry that the Parish Council for its 7.85 percent rise in council tax.
0
Have your say

A VILLAGER has taken his parish council to task after spotting an admin error which led to an increase for taxpayers.

Sherburn Village Parish Council had pledged to leave its precept unchanged for the new financial year.

UNHAPPY: Adam Foster is angry that the Parish Council for its 7.85 percent rise in council tax.

UNHAPPY: Adam Foster is angry that the Parish Council for its 7.85 percent rise in council tax.

But when one resident checked his bill, he noticed the authority had added an extra 7.85 per cent on the amount demanded of residents.

Councillors have since said that a clerk, who is new in role, made an error relating to arrangements between the parish council and the county council.

The error meant taxpayers are paying twice for services carried out by one of the authorities on behalf of the other.

The error would see an extra £2,620 added to the parish council’s accounts over the next 12 months.

UNHAPPY: Adam Foster is angry that the Parish Council for its 7.85 percent rise in council tax.

UNHAPPY: Adam Foster is angry that the Parish Council for its 7.85 percent rise in council tax.

The Liberal Democrat-led council has also said councillors failed to spot the increase in their county agendas when budgets were being drawn up in February.

Adam Foster, 36, has called on parish council to take action. He has reported the council to its external auditor because of the “off-hand manner” he says it had towards his inquiries.

The father-of-two, who works in retail, said: “The fact is people are struggling.

“They’ve got this money, so what’s happening to it?

“Nearly a month after my first enquiry, the clerk stated the error only came to light ‘Once the bills were distributed.’

“OK, mistakes can be made, but the tardiness of the reply, lack of an apology to the electorate or explanation as to what remedial action was going to be taken, further fuelled my annoyance.”

Mr Foster has also hit out at chairman of the council Stuart Walton’s comments that he is the only one concerned by the situation and the lack of plans to publicise the mistake.

The Labour Party member, who has said his efforts are not politically motivated, added: “I am happy to demonstrate to him that this is not the case.

“Now the information is in the public domain, the parish council might just be surprised at how disappointed Sherburn residents are with their Lib Dem councillors’ handling of this matter.”

Coun Walton told the Echo the council could consider displaying an explanation on the village noticeboard and the money would be ringfenced for a decision to be taken at a later date about what to do with it.

He said: “We could give people a rebate or retain this money in lieu of some money for next year.

“I’ve got a category B house and it will cost me 5p a week. In a lower category, it would be 4p a week, so we don’t think it will really be a good use of public money for us to send out a note.”

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham