Calls for senior Portsmouth councillor to resign after not paying council tax

Cllr Rob New
Cllr Rob New

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CALLS have been made for a senior councillor to resign after he admitted not paying his council tax.

Councillor Rob New, cabinet member for environment and community safety, posted online to say he had not paid due to ‘private’ and ‘still quite painful’ reasons.

Cllr New, ward member for Copnor since 2011, did not say how much was involved.

It comes as The News has pushed the city council to reveal the names of two councillors who had not paid the tax through Freedom of Information requests.

But Tory Cllr New revealed late on Thursday night that he fell behind on the tax.

Posting online, Cllr New, who was Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt’s election campaign manager, said: ‘During one of the most difficult years of my life personally, for various reasons that remain private and still quite painful, I fell behind on my council tax, but paid the bill in full as soon as I could and the matter was closed.

‘It’s only when you reach the bottom and feel so desperate for help that you can fully understand the stresses and strains that others feel too when they reach out to you for help, often out of desperation.’

But the councillor, who presided over cuts to council-run domestic abuse services, is facing calls to resign.

Independent ward member for Paulsgrove John Ferrett said: ‘I have a very simple view on it: if councillors don’t pay their council tax, then they shouldn’t be councillors.’

He added: ‘Council tax payers, those who are struggling, really struggling, to make ends meet but paying their council tax, will be aghast, absolutely aghast, that we have more councillors who don’t feel it’s necessary to pay their council tax.’

The council has refused to name the councillors who have not paid.

As reported in February, councillors across the area had racked up nearly £8,000 worth of unpaid council tax.

Councillors can be banned from voting on the authority’s budget if they do not pay.

Portsmouth City Council has refused to name two councillors who did not pay about £1,000 each.

It is unclear if this relates to Cllr New or other, unnamed councillors.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘With anybody, as long as they’ve paid that’s what people’s responsibility is. If people don’t pay it on time and had personal circumstances, then as long as they pay up, people do have crises in their lives.’

Cllr New has refused to talk to The News about this issue.