An investigation by Private Eye magazine found three Cheshire West and Chester councillors were summonsed to court after not paying their council tax on time last year.
The Eye has named and shamed councillors across the country who missed council tax deadlines, or failed to pay altogether, based on Freedom of Information (FOI) responses supplied by the local authorities.
In Cheshire West, eight members were sent reminder letters and three were issued with summonses after payments were missed
The trio summonsed to court were Cllr Susan Kaur (Con, Hartford and Greenbank) who owed £550, Cllr Howard Greenwood (Con, Farndon) who owed £546 and Cllr Jessica Crook (Lab, Ellesmere Port Town) who was considered at the time to owe £628.69.
However, Cllrs Kaur and Greenwood paid up before their court cases. Cllr Crook did appear but was found not to be liable as she was entitled to a student exemption but had not updated the address relating to her exemption certificate.
Cllr Crook, who was studying politics at the University of Salford but is now a restaurant manager, said in a statement: “As a student I was exempt from paying council tax. However, an oversight on my part meant the council was not aware of this and I received a court summons.
“While completing my studies I failed to update my exemption certificate which was registered at my previous address. By the time I became aware of the problem it had reached the point of a court summons.”
To ward off hypocrisy, the Local Government Finance Act forbids councillors from voting on the council’s budget – and determining the council tax – if they themselves have missed payments for two consecutive months and have not taken action to remedy the problem.
This did not apply in any of the CWaC cases.
Cllr Crook continued: “I immediately contacted my university and completed the required paperwork. Thankfully, the situation was quickly resolved and I did not lose my vote in council, which is essential to ensure I have a voice for the people of Ellesmere Port Town.
“I would like to reassure all the residents in my ward that this has had no impact whatsoever on my role as their councillor, and that I am here to help with any questions or issues they may have.”
Farndon ward Cllr Greenwood told The Chronicle: “I missed a payment. It was my fault and I paid up. I apologised and it was paid. That was it.”
Northwich Cllr Kaur, who represents Hartford and Greenbank, has not so far responded to a request for a comment.
Karen McIlwaine, joint director of governance at CWaC, said: “During 2015-16 three councillors were sent court summonses for missing council tax payments due in that financial year.
“Two of the individuals concerned repaid their arrears in full and the third individual obtained an exemption.
“The council did not need to take any further action and none of the councillors concerned were prohibited from voting on the council’s budget.”
The Chronicle has been sent a copy of the FOI response.