Councillor failed to pay council tax for four years

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A councillor who was barred from being a company director for more than three years also failed to pay her council tax on time for four years, it has been revealed.

Cllr Dee Sharpe, who represents Willerby and Kirk Ella ward, received a court summons each year for four consecutive years.

Cllr Sharpe, who is also a Conservative member of Pocklington Town Council, a member the Humberside Fire Authority and a former member of the Humberside Police and Crime Panel, received a summons in each of the financial years: 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15.

It follows a Freedom of Information Act request by the Pocklington Post in April, that revealed at least five East Riding councillors had been summoned to court or received reminders for not paying council tax between 2011 and 2015.

Cllr Sharpe told the Pocklington Post: “What people don’t know is my son lives with me and he has paid the council tax for five to six years.”

But her son, 40-year-old Graham Hodgson, a Pocklington based carer, said council tax payments were late due to “financial difficulties”.

Cllr Sharpe added: “It’s in my name because I rent the property. That’s why the council tax arrears is in my name. We share all the bills because I couldn’t afford to rent the
 property.

“He [my son] can prove that it was paid from his bank card and out of his bank account.”

Cllr Sharpe said the court summons never resulted in an actual court appearance, and that she can prove the arrears were paid in full.

The son said: “She bought the food and paid for the gas and electricity, and I paid the council tax and Sky TV.

“She’s a nice and caring person and I can’t understand why she’s getting all this because she’s never done anything to hurt anyone.

“She wanted to be a councillor to help people. We did try and get it switched to my name.”

In 2013, Cllr Sharpe was disqualified from becoming a company director after Essence Healthcare Yorkshire - a care assistance agency whereat she was a director - was put into 
liquidation.

At the point of liquidation, Essence Healthcare Yorkshire owed HMRC nearly £60,000.

Cllr Sharpe claimed the summons in relation to the non-payment of council tax were issued automatically, “if you go over a certain time”.

But before a court summons is issued in respect of a failed council tax payment, a reminder is first sent to the 
payee.

The authority is then able to take legal action - at a cost to the taxpayer - against a person who fails to pay up after the reminder.

Cllr Sharpe added: “This has made me feel ill for some time now.”

The council has so far refused to name the remaining four members, using Data Protection to censor their identities.

It is thought, however, that they are either no longer councillors, or are now deceased.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Mathew Buckley, the council’s Head of Legal and Democratic Services added: “I can also inform you that none of those years was any currently serving councillor barred from participating in budgetary decisions contingent on council tax arrears of two months or more.”

Pocklington Provincial ward councillor, Andy Strangeway, believes Cllr Sharpe should have dealt with the matter differently.

He said: “If you get a summons, you are costing the council money. Anyone who finds themselves in financial difficulty should contact the council, because we don’t want to waste money taking legal action when it’s not necessary.”