Staffing levels to blame say opposition after 800 Corby residents wrongly accused of not paying council tax

Opposition councillors have asked for a full investigation

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 1:22 pm

A council blunder that left 800 Corby residents wrongly summonsed for non-payment of council tax has been blamed on staffing levels by the opposition leader,

Council chiefs had issued an apology to the affected residents after they each wrongly received a court summons for non-payment of council tax and a review had been ordered by Cllr Jason Smithers, the leader of the Conservative-led North Northamptonshire Council (NNC).

Those summonsed have been assured in a statement that that the council would 'sort out' the mistake and asked people to phone the council staff at the Corby Cube - but phone lines have been jammed.

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Cllr Jean Addison, leader of North Northants Labour group and official opposition, said: "Labour councillors are very disappointed that residents across Corby have been served court order notices, albeit in error.

"Many people in our community have been through financial stress during this pandemic and these errors add to that stress.

"We are concerned that the culture across the council is a continuation of Northamptonshire County Council.

"Officers are under tremendous pressure due to staffing levels, they are spread too thin and this is where problems being to happen.

"We have asked for a full investigation into why this happened and want assurances it will never happen.

"If any residents need help and cannot get thorough to the council - many can not - please call you local councillor and they will do what they can to help."

A statement was issued late last night (Monday, October 25) after letters had arrived over the weekend demanding residents appear at Wellingborough Magistrates' Court.

The statement said: "North Northamptonshire Council would like to apologise sincerely for an error that has led to an estimated 800 summonses being issued incorrectly for non-payment of council tax.

"The error related to a batch of summonses that were issued in the Corby area.

"The council is in the process of identifying those affected to advise them of the corrective action the council is taking.

"Residents who have paid their council tax bill to date are advised to disregard the summons."

People affected have taken to social media to express their annoyance, worry and dismay.

One said "I'm one of them that had this letter absolutely diabolical, was so angry and upset over this matter."

Another said: "Disgusting the stress they have caused people and can't even answer their phones. Something really needs done their phone line is a joke."

A third said: "Each and every person should be notified immediately that there will be no action."