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Archive for May 22nd, 2013

The answer is: I don’t know. And although Tower Hamlets council recovered the arrears by deducting the cash from the member’s annual allowance, it is now citing data protection laws  to keep the name secret.

But someone knows who it is and I’m hoping you, my dear readers, can help. Comments naming people will not be approved unless there is copper-bottomed proof, but you can always email me with tips or leads.

Yet again, the Tories deserve credit for unearthing this little gem. Here’s their Freedom of Information request, and the council’s response:

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, I am requesting the following formation:

• Whether any currently serving councillor has received a court summons from the local authority for non-payment of council tax?

• If so, which councillor and what was the result of the action against them?

Can you please include in the response any relevant answers to previous requests and please may I be sent receipt of this request complete with a reference number.

I can confirm that one currently serving councillor received a court summons for non-payment of council tax in the financial year 2012/13

An attachment to allowances was issued to recover the arrears.

The exemption under Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act applies to the Personal Data of a third party; this information is exempt if its disclosure would contravene any of the data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998. This serves as a Refusal Notice in respect of the individual’s name.

Tory leader Peter Golds assures me the culprit is not one of their seven councillors, so that leaves 44 from this list to choose from.
It might well be that the non-payment was some bureaucratic oversight: perhaps the councillor had moved home (out of the borough even…?) and the warning letters weren’t delivered. But if there is no reasonable explanation, then I think most taxpayers would have little sympathy for the member remaining in office.
Which brings us to the question of leadership. Peter Golds has asked his members for assurances, so I’m sure the other group leaders and their deputies will do likewise.
We’re all very much looking forward to the replies to that question from: Mayor Lutfur Rahman (who is not a councillor, remember) and his deputy Cllr Ohid Ahmed; Labour’s mayoral candidate John Biggs and his deputies, the new group leader Cllr Sirajul Islam and Cllr Rachael Saunders; Cllr Stephanie Eaton of the Lib Dems (she doesn’t have a deputy); and Respect’s Cllr Fozol Miah and the genuinely delightful Cllr Harun Miah.

In any case, once the council is legally obliged to open its 2012/13 accounts for public inspection later this year, I’m certain we’ll at least then identify the new Councillor X.

[By way of further explanation, I drafted this post on Monday afternoon but then decided to email every non-Tory councillor (the Conservatives had already denied any culpability) to ask whether they would like to come forward before publication. Only three replied: Shahed Ali, Stephanie Eaton and Anwar Khan, all of whom ruled themselves out….tonight, I hear one member has resigned the Labour whip. Whether it’s connected to this or not, I don’t know.]

UPDATE

Councillor X is Omer Ahmed, who was the civic mayor in 2009/10, and who I understand has had some financial difficulties of late. Labour has decided to stand by him.

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