A COUNCILLOR who illegally took part in a Kirklees budget vote should be publicly named, Tory leader Robert Light has demanded.
The authority could have been left in financial chaos after it was revealed an as-yet unnamed ward member owed hundreds of pounds in council tax.
Coun Light (Birstall and Birkenshaw) insisted the culprit is not a Conservative and called for the councillor responsible to be outed.
The arrears mean the member should have been disqualified from February’s budget vote under the terms of the Local Government Act.
This stops them having a say if they are in arrears to prevent a conflict of interest as the budget involves setting council tax levels.
Not complying is an offence, but Kirklees claim the budget will not have to be re-run as the councillor’s vote did not affect the outcome.
Sources have told The Press that the
person involved is believed to be a Labour councillor from North Kirklees.
A council spokesman said: “The outcome of the vote was not materially affected and so the vote will not need to be retaken.”
Kirklees is now recovering the debt through an Attachment of Earnings Order on the councillor’s allowances.
Tory leader Coun Light blasted: “I’m shocked that a member acted illegally by taking part in a vote on the budget.
“The group leader concerned would’ve been made aware of the problem before the budget debate.
“The name should be revealed in the interests of transparency and to remove a suspicion that affects every other innocent councillor.”
“Senior officers, who know the person’s identity, have confirmed it isn’t any of the 18 members of our Conservative group.
“At a time when there’s a by-election in Liversedge and Gomersal, let’s hear which leader is so desperate they’re prepared to turn a blind eye to deceit.”
Lib Dem leader Coun Kath Pinnock (Cleckheaton) said the councillor was not part of her group either.
She said: “I did what I always do before every budget meeting and that’s ask if anyone’s in arrears as I know they won’t be able to vote.
“I wasn’t made aware of any problems then or now and so I’m quite confident that whoever it was, they’re not one of ours.”
Green leader Coun Andrew Cooper said the councillor was not one of his – but Coun Mehboob Khan did not deny it could be a Labour member.
The Labour and Kirklees leader said: “Ordinary people are struggling under the squeeze on family incomes.
“Council officers worked with the councillor to come up with a way which allowed them to meet their responsibilities.
“The councillor is entitled to their privacy and the council tax arrears have now been cleared.
“When voting in the council meeting, it is the responsibility of the individual councillor to declare that they are unable to vote.”
Eleanor McGrath, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Councillors failing to pay their on time hardly inspires the confidence of residents.
“Council tax has gone through the roof, but councillors should pay on time and not cost taxpayers money through reminders.”