'My council tax payments were not in arrears': Labour Councillor condemns council for reporting her to police (From Times Series)
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'My council tax payments were not in arrears' Labour Councillor Kath McGuirk condemns council for reporting her to police
A Labour councillor reported to police over accusations she voted ‘inappropriately’ in a budget meeting has come forward to deny the claims.
Barnet Borough Council reported West Finchley Labour councillor Kath McGuirk to police accusing her of breaching the Local Government Finance Act.
The authority issued a statement that it believed a member failed to make a proper declaration and voted “inappropriately” on the 2014/15 budget at its full council meeting on March 4.
Barnet Labour group had admitted that one of its members was summonsed over an unpaid £1,400 council tax bill, although Cllr McGuirk has not been named until now.
She said: “Barnet Council mistakenly issued me with demands for council tax arrears and then with a court summons, which I challenged because my payments were in order.
"I would like to emphasise that the summons was not acted on because it was issued in error, and my council tax payments were not in arrears.
“This culminated in the council asking the police to investigate whether I had broken the law by voting on behalf of the people of West Finchley in a council meeting.
“The council did this in the full knowledge that I was not in arrears of council tax, that my dispute over alleged arrears was upheld and that Capita had written to me apologising.”
Cllr McGuirk has condemned the council and said she regrets “it wasn’t possible” to come forward with an explanation sooner.
She added: "The whole affair raises the question that if Barnet Council can commit errors and mistakes like this against their own councillors, how many other summons and arrears notices are being issued wrongfully in our borough, against people who can hardly be expected to have the knowledge of council procedure necessary to see that the arrears notices are plain wrong?”
Barnet Labour group leader Councillor Alison Moore is calling for a public apology.
She said: “I think there are serious questions to be asked about what went wrong in this case, how council tax and benefits processes are being handled by Capita on behalf of the council and whether commercial companies are the right people to be dealing with such sensitive services on behalf of residents.
“Given that the monies weren't owed, the council or Capita should be thinking about a public apology.”
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