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Top Cornish Councillor Fails to Pay Council Tax

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3:32pm 17th January 2012
(Updated 3:32pm 17th January 2012)

A top Cornish official fails to pay his council tax bill.

Magistrates had to force Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems Alex Folkes to handover the cash.

This is the second year running.

He has apologised, but says he will not quit his job.

Writing on his blog Councillor Folkes said:

“The law is pretty clear. A councillor is disqualified from voting on budget issues if he or she is two or more months behind on their council tax payments. I have never fallen foul of that rule. However between budget votes I did fall behind on two occasions to the extent that legal action was taken against me and I deeply regret that this was the case. My excuse, such as it is, is that since I was elected in 2009 I have lived for the most part on my councillor allowance of £12,100 per year and I put other bills before council tax. But it is wrong to fall behind and I apologise to the people who I represent for letting them down in this way. I can assure anyone who cares that I have paid my full council tax for the current year and won't fall behind again"

"What this episode has done, however, is shown me how many people have difficulty paying their council tax. For some (like me) it is a foolish mistake. For others though, the bills are just too much to cope with in the current climate. As a council, I think there is more we could be doing to ensure that those in genuine hardship are helped to get any support and benefits to which they might be entitled. The schemes are there, but we sometimes fail to make people aware of them. Cornwall Council needs to raise tax to provide crucial services, but we have to ensure that families do not suffer disproportionate hardship as a result"

"I know I'm one of the more overtly political of the elected members at county hall and some will no doubt see my news as just deserts. If that's the case, then so be it. I'll continue to work as hard as possible for the people who showed their trust in me by giving me this position and I won't be letting up in my work for them. But whilst my campaigning may occasionally be hard, I promise I'll never resort to attacks on a person's personal circumstances or private behaviour. There are different views as to what is best for Cornwall and there should be a passionate debate. But that debate should not descend to attacks on the private lives of your opponents."

Emma Boon from the Taxpayers Alliance said:

"He's made the excuse that he's living mainly off his allowance of £12,100 a year. Well lots of people in Cornwall are living off low incomes and they still have to pay their council tax. So, if anything his excuse has highlighted that perhaps there is a bigger problem, that council tax is very high at the moment"

"It's very disappointing that a councillor has allowed himself to fall behind more than once on these payments. Serious questions have to be asked about whether or not he is fit for his duties if he's so disorganised that he can't pay his own council tax on time"

These shoppers in Pool say there is no excuse.

One said: "I think that's absolutely disgraceful. He should set an example to everybody else and pay straight away, I do."

Another adds: "If we don't pay it, then obviously we should have consequences to pay and so should he really."

This man said: "We all pay our bills, so why shouldn't he, you know? He's no different to us."

But this lady thinks we don't get enough back for the council tax we fork out:

"Everyone should pay it. It's one of those things, it's a bill that's got to be paid. Mind you, we should have better for what we pay."

3:32pm 17th January 2012

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