Non payment of council tax by councillors

The request was partially successful.

Dear Manchester City Council,

Please could you identify the councillors, if any, that were late paying council tax in 2019-20.
Please could you list who received reminder letters and who received a summons.
Also, was anyone banned from voting on the city budget because of late payment?

Yours faithfully,

James Graham

foi@manchester.gov.uk, Manchester City Council

Dear James Graham

We acknowledge receipt of your request to Manchester City Council,
concerning:

Non payment of council tax by councillors

If your request comes under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) or
the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), we will aim to
respond as promptly as we can and by no later than 20 working days.
Sometimes an extension to that timescale will apply and we will let you
know if that is the case.

If some or all of your request needs to be considered under processes
other than those provided by FOIA or EIR, different timescales may apply.
In particular, any part of your request that concerns your own personal
information will be considered in line with your rights under data
protection legislation (including the right of access) and we will aim to
provide you with a response in respect of that part of your request
without undue delay and by no later than one calendar month, unless an
extension to that timescale applies (we will let you know if that is the
case).

 

The reference number for your request is FOI/2574.

 

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Yours sincerely
Manchester City Council

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References

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1. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/privacy

foi@manchester.gov.uk, Manchester City Council

Dear Mr Graham,

 

Request for information

Reference number:  FOI/2574 - Non payment of council tax by councillors

 

Thank you for your request for information, which was received by
Manchester City Council on 13 July 2020 and has been considered under the
provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the 2000 Act”). 
Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your request. 
Your request was as follows:-

 

Dear Manchester City Council,

Please could you identify the councillors, if any, that were late paying
council tax in 2019-20.

Please could you list who received reminder letters and who received a
summons.

Also, was anyone banned from voting on the city budget because of late
payment?

Yours faithfully,

James Graham

 

I confirm that the Council does hold the information that you have
requested.  

 

I can confirm that for year 2019-20, five councillors received reminder
letters and two summonses were issued.  No councillor was barred from
voting as a result of the late payment. 

 

However, having carefully considered the matter, the Council has
determined that it is unable to comply with the remainder of your
request.  This is because the requested information is exempt from
disclosure under the following absolute exemption:

 

Sub-sections 40(2) and 40(3)(A) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000:
Personal information about third parties

 

This exemption applies because you have made a request for information
which comprises or contains personal information about a third party.  The
Council has determined that the information relating to the third party
should not be disclosed because disclosure would contravene one or more of
the data protection principles under the General Data Protection
Regulation, including the first principle that requires that information
should be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner.

 

The requested information is undoubtedly personal data.  I have considered
the fairness of disclosure insofar as the reasonable expectations of the
councillor, the consequences for them of disclosure and sought to balance
those expectations and consequences against the interests in disclosure.

 

I note the decision of the Upper Tribunal in the case of DH v (1)
Information Commissioner, (2) Bolton Council [2016] UKUT 0139 (AAC) in
which the Upper Tribunal concluded that in the particular circumstances of
that case it is not reasonable for a councillor not to be identified where
he is summoned for none payment of council tax.  The Upper Tribunal
however acknowledged that there could be exceptional cases in which the
personal circumstances of a councillor are so compelling that a councillor
should be protected from such exposure.  I am satisfied in connection with
one councillor that such exceptional circumstances do exist to warrant
application of the above exemption.  Unfortunately I am unable to go into
detail as this is likely in itself to identify the councillor concerned. 
I can confirm that Councillor Basat Sheikh was issued with a summons
during the period concerned.

 

In the case of the reminders, as section 106 of the Local Government
Finance Act 1992 was not engaged, under which Councillors are prevented
from voting where a sum becoming payable has remained unpaid for at least
two months then there is a reasonable expectation that information
concerning late payment will not be disclosed and to do so would therefore
be unfair.  A distinction can be made between the issue of a summons which
would have been preceded by one or more reminders and a reminder itself
which could for example have occurred as a result of a multitude of
reasons.

 

If you are not satisfied with this response you may ask for an internal
review.  If you wish an internal review to be undertaken you should
contact the Democratic Services Legal Team, whose address is, PO Box 532,
Town Hall, Manchester, M60 2LA, email:

[1][MCC request email] in the first instance.  A copy
of the Council’s access to information complaints procedure can be
downloaded
from [2]http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/d....
 If you do not have internet access and require a paper copy, please let
me know.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review process,
you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Tel: 01625 545700, Fax: 01625 524510

www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

 

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me.  Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

 

Yours sincerely

Charles Metcalfe,

Head of Corporate Revenues 

References

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1. mailto:[MCC request email]
2. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/d...

Dear [email address],

Hello,
Thanks very much for your reply.

Please could i check - did the two councillors pay after being summonsed? Were liability orders issued?

Yours sincerely,

james graham

Charles Metcalfe, Manchester City Council

Good morning Mr Graham. I am responding to your follow up request, asking:
 
"did the two councillors pay after being summonsed? Were liability orders
issued?"
I can confirm that both Councillors paid in full and no liability orders
were sought or obtained.
I hope this response is satisfactory, but if not, please get back to me.
Regards
Charles Metcalfe
Head of Corporate Revenues
Revenues, Benefits and Shared Services
1 City Road East
Manchester
M15 4PN
tel: 0161 219 6382
Int. 36382

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References

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1. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/emaildiscla...
2. http://www.manchester.gov.uk/privacy

Dear Charles Metcalfe,
Thanks again for your help. Apologies, i have another follow up - can you say how much was outstanding in each case?
Many thanks,
James

Yours sincerely,

james graham

Charles Metcalfe, Manchester City Council

Hello Mr Graham
I am not going to give you that information as I don't see how it relates
to the original request.
Apologies.
Charles Metcalfe
Head of Corporate Revenues
Revenues, Benefits and Shared Services
1 City Road East
Manchester
M15 4PN
tel: 0161 219 6382
Int. 36382

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