Nottingham councillor apologises after receiving council tax court summons

Councillor Samuel Gardiner has apologised in the Council House chamber
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/Nottingham Post)

A Nottingham councillor has apologised after receiving a court summons over not paying his council tax. Labour's Councillor Sam Gardiner says the arrears have now been fully paid and has pledged that the situation will never arise again.

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) was submitted to Nottingham City Council asking whether any current or former elected members of the authority had received a court summons over council tax during the last five years. Councillor Gardiner was named as having received a summons, whilst another councillor has also received one, but the city council is keeping their name a secret.

Those in arrears can be given a court summons if they fail to pay their council tax after a reminder notice has been sent, or if they have not been in touch with the relevant council to agree a new payment plan. Councillor Gardiner was asked for comment, including to confirm the amount of arrears he had built up.

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No figure was provided, but the Bulwell Forest councillor said in a short statement: "I sincerely apologise. I will make sure this does not happen again."

It is not clear when Councillor Gardiner received his court summons but it appears to be recent, given that he has clarified why he did not attend Nottingham City Council's budget meeting in March. Legislation bans a councillor from voting on a council's budget if they have an outstanding council tax debt of over two months.

Councillor Gardiner says this was not the reason he was absent from the budget meeting, which he says he missed because of work commitments. Councillor Gardiner is the chairman of the council's corporate scrutiny committee and has previously tried to be the council leader.

In terms of why it was keeping the name of one councillor a secret, Nottingham City Council said: "Based on information provided by the concerned councillor, the council's opinion in this case is that disclosing the name of the councillor meets the threshold of 'exceptional'. The council believes disclosure of this information would cause an unwarranted interference with this individuals' rights."

The news comes after it was revealed in April that Labour's Councillor Faith Gakanje-Ajala had council tax arrears worth £4,295.69 in total, although she denied she owes the council money. Councillor Gakanje-Ajala said at the time: "I don't have any arrears with anybody. I am being owed instead."