Council refuses to name Portsmouth councillors in tax arrears

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TWO councillors who have failed to pay their council tax will not be named, the city council has said.

The News revealed several councillors across the area had been sent reminders or taken to court for non-payment of council tax.

The names were released under the Freedom of Information Act but two in arrears were not named.

Now despite an appeal to Portsmouth City Council the authority has refused.

Councillor Luke Stubbs is deputy leader of the council.

He said: ‘It’s a bit of a grey area, you can argue it’s a private matter and some argue it’s a public matter.’

He said the council must follow guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The News argued the names should be revealed as a judge had ruled in a landmark case ‘there is a compelling legitimate interest in the public knowing whether a particular councillor has failed to pay the council tax, at least in circumstances where they have remained in default for over two months’.

The judge added: ‘In most cases this compelling interest will outweigh the councillor’s personal privacy.’

Last month it was revealed politicians racked up nearly £8,000 worth of unpaid tax.

If councillors do not pay for two months they cannot vote on the budget.

In response the council said: ‘The conclusion of Judge Kate Markus (QC) was that personal data around non-payment should generally be disclosed, however, it acknowledged the duty of fairness and stated that in exceptional cases the personal circumstances of a councillor may be so compelling that a councillor should be protected from such exposure.

‘Portsmouth City Council has considered the personal circumstances of the two undisclosed councillors that caused them to fall into arrears with their council tax and finds them to be sufficiently mitigating to warrant the information to remain confidential.’