COUNCIL officials have backed down after a family forced to live in a caravan when their bungalow flooded were told to pay council tax on both properties.
Alan Evans, his wife Toni, and their three children have been living in a caravan parked on the driveway of their three-bed bungalow in Roggel Road, Canvey, while it is repaired.
The family faced an added headache when Castle Point Council tried to charge them twice for council tax – once for their uninhabitable home and once for the caravan.
The family claimed they were also told they would continue to pay council tax on the caravan even after the bungalow, which was damaged last year, was fixed.
But after the Echo intervened, and the family contacted Colchester’s Valuation Office, the authority dropped the bill.
Mr Evans, 47, said: “It is a relief that they have removed the tax. I think it was down to the pressure from the press and the valuations office who made clear that the caravan did not fall into a band.
“We were prepared to take the fight all the way. I would have cancelled my direct debit to the council. I think the pressure from every angle has worked and the council has made itself look pretty stupid.
“I could understand if I was living in a completely different property, but I’m living in a caravan onmy own land. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Local authorities are able to tax homes left empty for a certain amount of time, if they are undergoing major work The family say they received a £2,000 council tax bill for the home and the caravan last month.
They were advised to pay the bill using their home insurance, but the valuation office told the council to remove the tax as the caravan does not fall under a property band.
Mrs Evans, 44, said: “The council told us that we should claim on our insurance, but it isn’t about the money and even if we did, it’ll come back to us in the long term. They told me I had been charged on the caravan because it is our sole and main residence, but it’s not, it’s temporary while our house is getting repaired.”
Mr Evans added: “The whole situation was laughable. The council have really turned our lives upside down.”
A spokeswoman for Castle Point Council said: “We have just received confirmation from the valuation office that the caravan will not be put into banding.
Therefore a revised bill to reflect this will be sent to Mr Evans.”