Two Bolton councillors who failed to pay council tax 'will stay secret'

The Bolton News: The two Bolton councillors who failed to pay council tax for two years in a row will not be revealed by the information commissioner. The two Bolton councillors who failed to pay council tax for two years in a row will not be revealed by the information commissioner.

TWO councillors who were summonsed to court after they failed to pay their council tax for two years in a row can keep their names secret - because their excuses for not paying on time were good enough, a watchdog has ruled.

Last year, The Bolton News revealed that two elected members of Bolton Council — one Labour and one Conservative — were threatened with legal action by Bolton Council after failing to stump a total of £4,660 of council tax on time.

Bolton Council’s chief executive, Sean Harriss, said councillors are entitled to the same level of privacy as everyone else.

He said: “Councillors are treated exactly the same as other residents with regards to council tax collection across the borough.

“They are provided with two reminders for outstanding arrears and if they do not respond to either reminder, are summoned to court.

“However, they can still make arrangements to repay any arrears or set up a payment plan up until the date they are due to appear in court.

“We are unable to provide the names of individual councillors who are in arrears under data protection laws and this decision has been upheld by the ICO.”

Both councillors received reminders for their unpaid council tax through the post and, after ignoring them, were summonsed to court.


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But they avoided being named — and banned from being able to vote on the local authority’s annual budget, which determines how much council tax Bolton residents must pay — after they agreed to pay before their court cases could take place.

Both councillors have now paid their arrears in full.

The Bolton News obtained the information with a freedom of information request.

The council refused to name them, citing data protection laws.

After an appeal against the decision failed, The Bolton News contacted the information commissioner's office (ICO), which has the power to force the council to reveal the names.

The ICO has now found in favour of the council.

In a written ruling, ICO principal adviser, Gerrard Tracey, said the commissioner disagreed with the local authority’s view that councillors should expect the same level of privacy as everyone else.

But he said these particular councillors gave good reasons for late payment and should expect anonymity.

The ruling said: “In the commissioner’s opinion, it is reasonable for councillors to expect recent failure to pay council tax in a private capacity is likely to impact on public perceptions and confidence (in them).

“Therefore, the commissioner is of the view that councillors should have a reasonable expectation that they may be identified as having failed to pay their council tax on time.

“However, the commissioner appreciates each case needs to be considered on its own merits.

“In particular, he acknowledges there may well be mitigating circumstances (for non payment).

“The council has provided the commissioner with submissions which explain why the late payment occurred.

“This would significantly and, moreover legitimately, raise their expectation that they would not be publicly named.

“This is to the extent that, in the commissioner’s view, disclosure of the names would be so contrary to their legitimate expectations that disclosure (of their names) would be unfair.”

Mr Tracey added that the ICO could not reveal the excuses because they might identify the councillors.

No Bolton councillors are currently in council tax arrears.

Comments (29)

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9:56am Thu 23 Jan 14

shadowfax says...

STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN........1 RULE FOR 1......1 RULE FOR ANOTHER
STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN........1 RULE FOR 1......1 RULE FOR ANOTHER shadowfax

10:01am Thu 23 Jan 14

underwater says...

Bet your life if it was me I would have been named. Agree with the comment above.
Bet your life if it was me I would have been named. Agree with the comment above. underwater

10:09am Thu 23 Jan 14

atlas123 says...

Nobody else would have been name until at least after court...

No ifs no buts no maybes
Nobody else would have been name until at least after court... No ifs no buts no maybes atlas123

10:41am Thu 23 Jan 14

Endoxa says...

The legal position is clear and understandable in terms of data protection but this is more about the morality of the situation. Of course this would influence voting for these people and if they had any guts they would WANT to explain why they decided to ignore reminders. If they don't have any good reasons for not paying on time or are incompetent at organising their private finances then why do they think that people would want to TRUST them to organise the TOWN'S finances. Is this why the town is in such a mess? Other councillors will be tarred by the same brush and should themselves be calling for these two to come forward and explain themselves!
The legal position is clear and understandable in terms of data protection but this is more about the morality of the situation. Of course this would influence voting for these people and if they had any guts they would WANT to explain why they decided to ignore reminders. If they don't have any good reasons for not paying on time or are incompetent at organising their private finances then why do they think that people would want to TRUST them to organise the TOWN'S finances. Is this why the town is in such a mess? Other councillors will be tarred by the same brush and should themselves be calling for these two to come forward and explain themselves! Endoxa

10:57am Thu 23 Jan 14

Barbara44 says...

Name and shame,
Name and shame, Barbara44

11:01am Thu 23 Jan 14

angus macoatup says...

watchdog more like lapdog this stinks rotten' every one should hold back councill tax until this is resolved use the same excuses as these two . power corrupts
watchdog more like lapdog this stinks rotten' every one should hold back councill tax until this is resolved use the same excuses as these two . power corrupts angus macoatup

11:12am Thu 23 Jan 14

steverock6@sky.com says...

How can members of the public have any confidence in their leaders these people are not above the law if people are to be encouraged to go out and vote In elections they need to have some level of trust and respect actions like this does not support this they should be honest and come forward and explain why they did not pay excuses are not accepted for others so why is it for them!
How can members of the public have any confidence in their leaders these people are not above the law if people are to be encouraged to go out and vote In elections they need to have some level of trust and respect actions like this does not support this they should be honest and come forward and explain why they did not pay excuses are not accepted for others so why is it for them! steverock6@sky.com

11:15am Thu 23 Jan 14

Harkin about says...

Nobody is bothered apart from a few who have more time on their hands than they should have, lets grow up and move on.
I am more interested in their plans for the town than paying bills.
Nobody is bothered apart from a few who have more time on their hands than they should have, lets grow up and move on. I am more interested in their plans for the town than paying bills. Harkin about

12:06pm Thu 23 Jan 14

MrBenggo says...

Harkin about.
Go on bury your head in the sand,you are suffering from apathy,I just bet you don't bother voting,never complain about anything,and let others take up any complaint for you.
Pathetic,absolutely pathetic.
Harkin about. Go on bury your head in the sand,you are suffering from apathy,I just bet you don't bother voting,never complain about anything,and let others take up any complaint for you. Pathetic,absolutely pathetic. MrBenggo

12:18pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Balboa says...

These councillors are always up for a bit of publicity in the right light....until it goes dark on them and they return to their privacy!

Oh, the irony!
These councillors are always up for a bit of publicity in the right light....until it goes dark on them and they return to their privacy! Oh, the irony! Balboa

12:49pm Thu 23 Jan 14

owencoyle99 says...

steverock6@sky.com wrote:
How can members of the public have any confidence in their leaders these people are not above the law if people are to be encouraged to go out and vote In elections they need to have some level of trust and respect actions like this does not support this they should be honest and come forward and explain why they did not pay excuses are not accepted for others so why is it for them!
well said
how can someone who expects the people of Bolton to vote for these guys

get them named & shamed
[quote][p][bold]steverock6@sky.com[/bold] wrote: How can members of the public have any confidence in their leaders these people are not above the law if people are to be encouraged to go out and vote In elections they need to have some level of trust and respect actions like this does not support this they should be honest and come forward and explain why they did not pay excuses are not accepted for others so why is it for them![/p][/quote]well said how can someone who expects the people of Bolton to vote for these guys get them named & shamed owencoyle99

1:23pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Rawenergy says...

Harkin about wrote:
Nobody is bothered apart from a few who have more time on their hands than they should have, lets grow up and move on.
I am more interested in their plans for the town than paying bills.
undercover Councillor???
[quote][p][bold]Harkin about[/bold] wrote: Nobody is bothered apart from a few who have more time on their hands than they should have, lets grow up and move on. I am more interested in their plans for the town than paying bills.[/p][/quote]undercover Councillor??? Rawenergy

1:34pm Thu 23 Jan 14

BlueRay79 says...

I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?
I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that? BlueRay79

2:08pm Thu 23 Jan 14

paulrich says...

The procedure is quite simple. If no payment is received for two months after 5th April or if 2 successive monthly payments are missed, the Council issues a Summons for payment of the balance + a 'fine of £90 . If by the court date payment still hasn't been made or an arrangement entered into, the court will issue a liability order. If there still is no payment or arrangement made, the Council will engage bailiffs to recover the amount due.

It is not clear how far down the track the Councillors went in each of the two seperate years. The article implies that no payment was made for 24 months which I don't think was the case.

For your information in 2012-2013, 13,853 summonses were issued leading to 11,155 Liability Orders.

I think that this information puts the whole matter into context.
The procedure is quite simple. If no payment is received for two months after 5th April or if 2 successive monthly payments are missed, the Council issues a Summons for payment of the balance + a 'fine of £90 . If by the court date payment still hasn't been made or an arrangement entered into, the court will issue a liability order. If there still is no payment or arrangement made, the Council will engage bailiffs to recover the amount due. It is not clear how far down the track the Councillors went in each of the two seperate years. The article implies that no payment was made for 24 months which I don't think was the case. For your information in 2012-2013, 13,853 summonses were issued leading to 11,155 Liability Orders. I think that this information puts the whole matter into context. paulrich

2:56pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Hollieanne says...

BlueRay79 wrote:
I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?
My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs?
[quote][p][bold]BlueRay79[/bold] wrote: I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?[/p][/quote]My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs? Hollieanne

3:17pm Thu 23 Jan 14

BlueRay79 says...

Hollieanne wrote:
BlueRay79 wrote:
I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?
My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs?
Did they publish your name in a paper? Shows how they treat their own differently!

They shouldn't publish names for anyone. Some people are in difficult positions through no fault of their own, so why factor in shame by publishing a name. It should be a private matter between the individual and the council.
[quote][p][bold]Hollieanne[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BlueRay79[/bold] wrote: I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?[/p][/quote]My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs?[/p][/quote]Did they publish your name in a paper? Shows how they treat their own differently! They shouldn't publish names for anyone. Some people are in difficult positions through no fault of their own, so why factor in shame by publishing a name. It should be a private matter between the individual and the council. BlueRay79

3:26pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Hollieanne says...

BlueRay79 wrote:
Hollieanne wrote:
BlueRay79 wrote: I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?
My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs?
Did they publish your name in a paper? Shows how they treat their own differently! They shouldn't publish names for anyone. Some people are in difficult positions through no fault of their own, so why factor in shame by publishing a name. It should be a private matter between the individual and the council.
Yes BlueRay79. My name was published in the then Bolton Evening News. In my case it was not a case of wouldn't pay it was a case of couldn't but that made no difference. The Bolton Evening News also used to print long lists of people who had been in court and their alleged crimes.
[quote][p][bold]BlueRay79[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hollieanne[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BlueRay79[/bold] wrote: I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?[/p][/quote]My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs?[/p][/quote]Did they publish your name in a paper? Shows how they treat their own differently! They shouldn't publish names for anyone. Some people are in difficult positions through no fault of their own, so why factor in shame by publishing a name. It should be a private matter between the individual and the council.[/p][/quote]Yes BlueRay79. My name was published in the then Bolton Evening News. In my case it was not a case of wouldn't pay it was a case of couldn't but that made no difference. The Bolton Evening News also used to print long lists of people who had been in court and their alleged crimes. Hollieanne

3:32pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Beyond News Forum says...

Public interest. If a footballer messing with a whore can be public interest then so can this.

Name and shame, no excuses, they get paid like every other bugger that has to pay taxes and the get paid good money - public money - and so is in the public interest.

Now I keep reminding people of the establishment and the rules for one and not the other. Perhaps it is starting to sink in.

NO IF'S BUTS OR MAYBE'S!!!
Public interest. If a footballer messing with a whore can be public interest then so can this. Name and shame, no excuses, they get paid like every other bugger that has to pay taxes and the get paid good money - public money - and so is in the public interest. Now I keep reminding people of the establishment and the rules for one and not the other. Perhaps it is starting to sink in. NO IF'S BUTS OR MAYBE'S!!! Beyond News Forum

3:45pm Thu 23 Jan 14

goldie47 says...

name and shame them.....why should they get away with it.....joe public would be named
name and shame them.....why should they get away with it.....joe public would be named goldie47

3:59pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Marzi30 says...

If the Bolton News was able to get the names of these Councillors through the Freedom of Information Act then surely it goes without saying that any member of the public should be able to do the same and name them on this site or any Social Network site without breaking any Law. The Council took their own decision not to reveal names for their own ludicrous self interest, there is no legal gagging order on this so it's easy enough to get these names out there
If the Bolton News was able to get the names of these Councillors through the Freedom of Information Act then surely it goes without saying that any member of the public should be able to do the same and name them on this site or any Social Network site without breaking any Law. The Council took their own decision not to reveal names for their own ludicrous self interest, there is no legal gagging order on this so it's easy enough to get these names out there Marzi30

4:55pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Count de Monet says...

Hollieanne wrote:
BlueRay79 wrote:
Hollieanne wrote:
BlueRay79 wrote: I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?
My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs?
Did they publish your name in a paper? Shows how they treat their own differently! They shouldn't publish names for anyone. Some people are in difficult positions through no fault of their own, so why factor in shame by publishing a name. It should be a private matter between the individual and the council.
Yes BlueRay79. My name was published in the then Bolton Evening News. In my case it was not a case of wouldn't pay it was a case of couldn't but that made no difference. The Bolton Evening News also used to print long lists of people who had been in court and their alleged crimes.
Read the artticle properly! Only people who have been to court can be named. Those who settle before going to court can't be named.
[quote][p][bold]Hollieanne[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BlueRay79[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Hollieanne[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BlueRay79[/bold] wrote: I thought people who evaded council tax had their name issued in a local paper? or did they stop that?[/p][/quote]My data protection rights weren't taken into account when my name was published for Poll Tax defaulting so why was it ok in my case but not in theirs?[/p][/quote]Did they publish your name in a paper? Shows how they treat their own differently! They shouldn't publish names for anyone. Some people are in difficult positions through no fault of their own, so why factor in shame by publishing a name. It should be a private matter between the individual and the council.[/p][/quote]Yes BlueRay79. My name was published in the then Bolton Evening News. In my case it was not a case of wouldn't pay it was a case of couldn't but that made no difference. The Bolton Evening News also used to print long lists of people who had been in court and their alleged crimes.[/p][/quote]Read the artticle properly! Only people who have been to court can be named. Those who settle before going to court can't be named. Count de Monet

5:48pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Donkey Stone says...

Simple solution. Vote the lot out and start again from scratch.
Simple solution. Vote the lot out and start again from scratch. Donkey Stone

5:53pm Thu 23 Jan 14

bwfc58 says...

Yes we should all Vote UKIP from now on
Yes we should all Vote UKIP from now on bwfc58

7:08pm Thu 23 Jan 14

fay clarke says...

Sack them.
Sack them. fay clarke

7:46pm Thu 23 Jan 14

phileasty says...

This is ridiculas if any member of the public was to fail to your taxes they would be taken to court and then be posted in the Bolton News
This is ridiculas if any member of the public was to fail to your taxes they would be taken to court and then be posted in the Bolton News phileasty

9:50pm Thu 23 Jan 14

Citizen Cane says...

The data protection act will be citied in all FoI requests for the names. However, it may be legitimate for the BN to obtain the EXCUSES without the names and then you'll be able to see how ridiculous each one is?
The data protection act will be citied in all FoI requests for the names. However, it may be legitimate for the BN to obtain the EXCUSES without the names and then you'll be able to see how ridiculous each one is? Citizen Cane

7:42am Fri 24 Jan 14

Oldhampal says...

If all Bolton council tax payers forgot to pay for two years then Bolton would have no money, no money no services, did the two Councillors forget to claim their allowances? Councillors should lead by example not hide behind the very system that is here to keep a civilised community together, we can only assume that the offenders are key or senior Councilors of the ruling group, so if the people of Bolton Vote for the Tories or Liberals or better still New Green Party candidates in the May elections there is a good chance you will get rid of the non payers.
If all Bolton council tax payers forgot to pay for two years then Bolton would have no money, no money no services, did the two Councillors forget to claim their allowances? Councillors should lead by example not hide behind the very system that is here to keep a civilised community together, we can only assume that the offenders are key or senior Councilors of the ruling group, so if the people of Bolton Vote for the Tories or Liberals or better still New Green Party candidates in the May elections there is a good chance you will get rid of the non payers. Oldhampal

8:45am Fri 24 Jan 14

The Righteous One says...

bwfc58 wrote:
Yes we should all Vote UKIP from now on
What woud UKIP do locally?


And anyway if teh party leader is now distancing himself from his own manifesto from 2010 doesn't that show his own contempt for the everyday person.
[quote][p][bold]bwfc58[/bold] wrote: Yes we should all Vote UKIP from now on[/p][/quote]What woud UKIP do locally? And anyway if teh party leader is now distancing himself from his own manifesto from 2010 doesn't that show his own contempt for the everyday person. The Righteous One

6:08pm Fri 24 Jan 14

Iluminati says...

Wonderful. One couldn't make that one up. So, what's next? Will the court have the same lidiotic attitude as the Council? Will the court sit in secret and ban the pres and media? Will the 2 councillors reason why they haven't paid be put under the official secret act? Does'nt this whole episode remains everybody of typical provincial council business???
Wonderful. One couldn't make that one up. So, what's next? Will the court have the same lidiotic attitude as the Council? Will the court sit in secret and ban the pres and media? Will the 2 councillors reason why they haven't paid be put under the official secret act? Does'nt this whole episode remains everybody of typical provincial council business??? Iluminati

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