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Barnet Borough Council stands by decision to report Councillor Kath McGuirk to police over council tax arrears claims
Barnet Borough Council is backing its decision to report one of its members to police over claims she was in arrears with her council tax when she voted in a budget meeting.
The council reported Councillor Kath McGuirk to police for a potential breach of the Local Government Finance Act.
The Labour councillor came forward yesterday to publicly state that the authority “mistakenly” issued her demands for council tax arrears and a court summons, which she challenged because her payments were "in order”.
She had said: "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."
But today, the council has issued a statement defending its actions.
The statement reads: “At the time of the council budget debate Ms McGuirk was in arrears with her council tax following an incorrectly claimed single person council tax discount dating back to 2010.
“The arrears were identified as part of a borough-wide review of single person discounts.
“Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 requires members to declare if they have arrears and prohibits them from voting on council tax setting, administration and enforcement if a council tax payment 'becomes payable and remains unpaid' for two or more months. This was the case as of March 4 2014.
“The issue of arrears was finally settled on March 27, 2014 when an alternative discount was applied to Cllr McGuirk’s account.
“The council is confident that all staff and contractors acted efficiently and appropriately throughout.”
The statement adds that all councillors were written to ahead of the meeting reminding them of their obligations under the act and that “failure to declare and vote is a criminal offence”.
Speaking to the Times Series, council leader Councillor Richard Cornelius said: “Clearly the police will decide whether they’re going to charge her or not. The council, in an administrative sense, is obviously convinced they’re right.
“Everyone knows the rules that you can’t vote if you’re not up to date.
“It’s obviously very difficult for her. But if she wasn’t in compliance then she shouldn’t have voted full stop.”
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