Councillors and Council Tax Arrears

Joanna Morris made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to City of Edinburgh Council as part of a batch sent to 426 authorities

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Hello,

I'm writing to you in the hope of obtaining information relating to the number of reminder letters and summons sent to elected councillors in your authority area since 2015/16.

I'd prefer to receive the information in Excel spreadsheet - xlsx or xls - format and if you cannot provide the information in full, I would like to request that you provide as much as you are able to within the cost and time limits of the Act.

If you need clarification or can suggest ways in which the request can be refined in order for it to be successful, I'd be grateful if you could contact me as soon as possible.

Please note that there is precedent for councillors to be named in relation to this issue - the High Court ruled in March 2015 that they should not have their identities protected when it comes to non-payment of council tax.

I'd like to know the following:

1. How many unpaid council tax reminders were sent to councillors elected in your authority between 2015/16 and 2017/18? Please break down by financial year?

2. How many councillors were summonsed to court or given summary warrants in the same period? Again, please break down by financial year.

3a. How many reminders were issued to the councillors named? Please break down by year.

3b. For each instance, please provide the name of each councillor, the party they represent or represented at the time and the amount of council tax owed according to sums requested in the letter. Please also provide the amount of council tax that remains outstanding.

3c. Please also state for each councillor, whether they were barred from voting on the council's budget as a result of their council tax arrears and whether any summons received resulted in a court hearing going ahead.

I'd be grateful if you could provide the information for questions 1 and 2 as totals for your authority and present the rest of the information within a spreadsheet with the following columns:

Financial Year - Authority Name - Councillor Name - Party - No of Reminders - No of Summons - Amount Owed According to Reminders - Court Hearing Y/N - Outcome of Hearing - Banned from Voting Y/N - Current Sum Outstanding

Yours faithfully,

Joanna Morris

City of Edinburgh Council

Ms Joanna Morris

Our ref: 23123

Dear Ms Morris

Acknowledgement of Request

Subject: Councillors and Council Tax Arrears

Thank you for your request for information received on 15/04/2019. I can confirm that your request will be processed under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, Environmental Information Regulations (Scotland) 2004, or the INSPIRE (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

You will receive the information requested within 20 working days unless the Council does not hold the information, or there is a reason for it to be withheld. We will write to you in any event. This means we have until 15/05/2019 to respond to your request.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case we will let you know.

If you have any requirements regarding the format any information should be supplied in, e.g. the language to be used, audio, large print and so on, then please let me know.

If you have any queries or concerns, do not hesitate to get in touch. Please quote the reference number above in any future communications.

To promote transparency and accountability, please note it is the Council’s policy to publish all request details and responses made under the freedom of information legislation. This information will be made available through the Council’s website and will not include your personal details. The disclosure log is available at the following link: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/homepage/175....

Further information about your rights and accessing information is available on our website at: www.edinburgh.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance Unit
Level 2:1, Waverley Court, Edinburgh EH8 8BG Tel 0131 200 2340
[Edinburgh City Council request email] www.edinburgh.gov.uk

City of Edinburgh Council

Ms Joanna Morris

[FOI #567860 email]

Our ref: 23123

Dear Ms Morris

Request for Clarification

Subject: Councillors and Council Tax Arrears

Thank you for your request for information of 15/04/2019 in which you asked the following:

Q1. How many unpaid council tax reminders were sent to councillors elected in your authority between 2015/16 and 2017/18? Please break down by financial year?

Q2. How many councillors were summonsed to court or given summary warrants in the same period? Again, please break down by financial year.

Q3a. How many reminders were issued to the councillors named? Please break down by year.

Q3b. For each instance, please provide the name of each councillor, the party they represent or represented at the time and the amount of council tax owed according to sums requested in the letter. Please also provide the amount of council tax that remains outstanding.

Q3c. Please also state for each councillor, whether they were barred from voting on the council's budget as a result of their council tax arrears and whether any summons received resulted in a court hearing going ahead.

Unfortunately, we cannot identify the information you have requested from the details you have provided. To help us meet your request, could you please confirm the financial years you have requested information for. Should this be 2015/16, 2016/17?

On receipt of these further details, we will respond to your request within 20 working days. Please note that the statutory 20 working day deadline for responding to your request does not start until we receive the requested clarification from you.

If we do not hear from you within 40 working days, we will assume that you are no longer seeking the information you have requested and we will take no further action.

If you wish to discuss further, please get in touch. Please quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Further information about your rights and accessing information is available on our website at: www.edinburgh.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Sue Brown
Information Rights Officer

Information Governance Unit
Level 2:1, Waverley Court, Edinburgh EH8 8BG Tel 0131 200 2340
[Edinburgh City Council request email] www.edinburgh.gov.uk

Information Rights Officer 2, City of Edinburgh Council

Dear Ms Morris

Please accept my apologies and ignore this request. I had not reviewed your request properly and now realise you asked for information between 2015 and 2018.

Yours sincerely,

Sue Brown
Information Rights Officer

Information Governance Unit
Level 2:1, Waverley Court, Edinburgh EH8 8BG Tel 0131 200 2340 [Edinburgh City Council request email] www.edinburgh.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Information Rights Officer 2, City of Edinburgh Council

1 Atodiad

Link: [1]File-List

Ms Joanna Morris

 

[FOI #567860 email]

 

Our ref: 23123

 

Dear Ms Morris

 

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - Release of Information

 

Subject: Councillors and Council Tax Arrears

 

Thank you for your request for information of 15/04/2019 which has been
processed and considered under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002. The information is provided below.

Q1. How many unpaid council tax reminders were sent to councillors elected
in your authority between 2015/16 and 2017/18? Please break down by
financial year?

2015/16 = Zero

2016/17 = Zero

2017/18 = Four

Q2. How many councillors were summonsed to court or given summary warrants
in the same period? Again, please break down by financial year.

2015/16 = Zero

2016/17 = Zero

2017/18 = Three

Q3a. How many reminders were issued to the councillors named? Please break
down by year.

Q3b. For each instance, please provide the name of each councillor, the
party they represent or represented at the time and the amount of council
tax owed according to sums requested in the letter. Please also provide
the amount of council tax that remains outstanding.

Q3c. Please also state for each councillor, whether they were barred from
voting on the council's budget as a result of their council tax arrears
and whether any summons received resulted in a court hearing going ahead.

A3. Please refer to the attached spreadsheet.

The name of the Councillors and the party they represent/ed will not be
released. The accounts have been fully settled and no amount is
outstanding.

 

Under the terms of the legislation, a request for information can be
refused where one or more exemptions listed in the legislation apply. In
this instance, the Council is claiming the following exemption to the
information that you have requested: section 38(1)(b) (read in conjunction
with section 38(2)(a)(i)) of FOISA. This states that information is exempt
information if it constitutes personal data, and that the disclosure of
the information to a member of the public, otherwise than under the Data
Protection Act 2018, would contravene any of the data protection
principles.

 

Therefore, personal data cannot be released to a third party where to do
so would breach any of the “data protection principles” as set out in Data
Protection legislation.

 

It is clear that the information requested relates to living individuals
(i.e. the councillors concerned) and that the individuals can be
identified from the information. Accordingly, we believe that the
information does constitute personal data.

As the information withheld meets the definition of personal data, it can
only be disclosed if to do so would be both fair and lawful, and in
accordance with the conditions in the Data Protection legislation. 

 

We are required to balance your interests in having access to the
information against the privacy interests of the third party.

 

We acknowledge that members of the public expect certain standards from
their elected councillors and there is a public interest in disclosing
information that shows when those councillors fall below those standards.
However, the arrears have been settled in full and therefore, any impact
on the councillor’s ability to act in an official capacity is no longer a
factor. Consequently, I consider that any information relating to council
tax payments is the councillor’s personal information, and that the data
protection considerations, as set out above, override any public interest
in this instance.

Please note that this constitutes a formal refusal notice under section 16
of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 in regard to any
personal information which we have not disclosed.

 

To promote transparency and accountability, please note it is the
Council’s policy to publish all request details and responses made under
the freedom of information legislation. This information will be made
available through the Council’s website and will not include your personal
details. The disclosure log is available at the following link:
http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/homepage/175...

 

Your right to seek a review

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have dealt with your request, you can
ask us to review our actions and decisions by writing to the:

 

Head of Strategy & Insight

The City of Edinburgh Council

Waverley Court Business Centre 2:1

4, East Market Street

Edinburgh

EH8 8BG or,

Email: [email address]

 

Please note that your request must be in a recordable format (email,
letter, audio tape etc.), and that you have 40 working days upon receipt
of this letter to ask for a review. You will receive a full response to
your review request within 20 working days of its receipt. Please quote
the reference number above in any future communications.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the review, you can ask the
Scottish Information Commissioner to review our decision. You must submit
your complaint to the Commissioner within 6 months of receiving our review
response. The Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

The Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

Kinburn Castle

Doubledykes Road

St Andrews

Fife

KY16 9DS

Telephone: 01334 464610

Fax: 01334 464611

Website: www.itspublicknowledge.info/Appeal

Email: [email address]

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Sue Brown

Information Rights Officer

 

 

Information Governance Unit

Level 2:1, Waverley Court, Edinburgh EH8 8BG Tel 0131 200 2340

[Edinburgh City Council request email]  www.edinburgh.gov.uk

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

References

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