My View, Peter Davies: No surprise people don’t pay council tax

Doncaster Civic Offices, part of the Doncaster Civic & Cultural Quarter
Doncaster Civic Offices, part of the Doncaster Civic & Cultural Quarter

The council is apparently getting tough and addressing a whole raft of problems that appear to have been overlooked for years.

Among various announcements recently, I read of the jailing for 16 days of one council tax dodger who owed more than £2,000 to Doncaster Council.

In the same report, it was revealed that local people owe more than £19 million in council tax and the council is cracking down on persistent offenders.

When and how might this occur?

The courts and prisons would be completely jammed and an impartial observer might conclude that the council has chosen to make an example of this particular person as a warning to others.

Partiality in law enforcement is not acceptable and all the council’s debtors should receive the same attention and treatment.

It is, however, no surprise that there is considerable reluctance to pay this unpopular bill, particularly when local tax payers see hundreds of thousands of pounds wasted and when they remember the recent unpleasant history of local government in Doncaster.

The Donnygate scandal, which was traced back to 1992, ended with a large number of Labour councillors implicated in criminal offences along with a plethora of council officers and at least one Conservative.

Many of these were found guilty and some were imprisoned.

While outright criminality may have disappeared from the authority, there are still examples of immoral, if legal, behaviour.

There have been a number of stunts pulled by civic mayors.

One involved the use of the mayoral car and chauffeur to attend a funeral in Ireland.

In another case donations to church collections and the purchase of charity raffle tickets were claimed back on expenses.

I also seem to remember a claim for tights and biscuits.

On a larger scale, money is wasted by the council on any number of dud projects while the interests of ordinary people are conveniently forgotten.

The current elected mayor made a manifesto commitment to reduce the cost of living in Doncaster but immediately increased the council tax by six per cent over three years, a move unlikely to help the household economies of poorer families or the individual jailed last week.