Council ‘must ditch’ historic poll tax debt

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Hundreds of Cumbernauld and Kilsyth poll tax rebels who joined the electoral roll in
order to vote in the referendum could theoretically be snared by cash-strapped North Lanarkshire Council.

But figures supplied to the News show that only £32,000 of historic community charge debt was recouped this year and last out of £24.6million outstanding.

Cumbernauld SNP councillor Paddy Hogg says the chances of gaining any significant proportion of the total have gone.

“I have personal experience of someone receiving a poll tax demand for a deceased person, and know misery that can cause,” he said.

He slammed councils said to be using the register – enlarged by people who wanted to vote in the referendum – to chase poll tax debt.

North Lanarkshire Council dismisses moves to stop the voters’ roll being used to trace poll tax debt as “political posturing” – while it struggles to recoup £44.4million in unpaid council tax.

Council Leader Councillor Jim McCabe said: “Like every other council in Scotland we are legally obliged to recover debt, using whatever information is to hand. The electoral register is a standard tool and has been for decades.

“Aside from the financial implications for the council, what message would we be sending (if non-payers were not pursued) to the tens of thousands of people who dutifully pay their Council Tax in full and on time?

“There are mechanisms in place for people in genuine hardship and we will offer what advice and assistance we can.

“But we are a responsible council, recognised by the Accounts Commission for our high standards for seven years running, and I see no reason to jeopardise that for the sake of political posturing .”