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Council tax dodger pays up to avoid prison term
3:30pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
A MAN who refused to pay a council tax bill of nearly £1,500 has narrowly avoided prison.
David Vickers, 32, of Ferrymead, Canvey, was sentenced to 45 days behind bars for culpable neglect over the £1,466 bill, but managed to get out of the sentence by agreeing to pay the sum owed to Castle Point Council.
Magistrates found Vickers had money to settle the bill, but had chosen to spend his money on “non-priority items”.
However, Vickers was warned he couldstill end upin prison if he doesn’t meet agreements set out by the council.
Vickers’ case was highlighted by the council as it emerged it was owed £574,000 in unpaid council tax from the last financial year.
To try to collect the arrears, four arrest warrants were issued by Southend magistrates during August. In addition, 185 liability orders were also issued by the courts, which is the first stage of a local authority’s action to recover council tax debt. The order allows the council to send in bailiffs, make an attachment of earnings order, or makeacharge on the property to reclaim the cash.
The final option is to send an offender to prison.
Although 98.65 per cent of council tax is received, Jeffrey Stanley, deputy leader of Castle Point Council, said Vickers’ case should act as a warning to those considering not paying their council tax.
He added: “It’s important everyone pays their council tax. If they don’t, it’s unfair on those who do pay and the council will pursue people who, without good reason, do not pay on time and we will be rigorous with those people.
“There are schemes in place to help people who are hard-up.
“We work with people to make their council tax as easy to pay as possible and will direct people to the appropriate support if they cannot afford to pay.”
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