Council tax dodger is jailed for failing to keep paying
COUNCIL tax dodger Paul Sharp was jailed for 23 days after failing to stump up £1,300 in missed payments.
Sharp¸ 46, of Brereton Avenue, Cleethorpes, was locked up after running up the debt between April 1997 and March 2010.
He was the sixth person to be sent to prison by Grimsby magistrates for non-payment of council tax in the past year.
Sharp managed to evade the bailiffs for nearly five years, but eventually attended court in March last year, when his debt totalled £3,880.23 for 14 liability orders.
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The magistrates wiped off £1,805.23, leaving him with £2,075.00 to pay.
By the most recent hearing, he had again failed to keep to the order. He should have paid £520 but handed over only £340.
Magistrates decided that Sharp had been given many chances by North East Lincolnshire Council and the court but had still failed to make the payments ordered.
They added that the case had come to the end of the line and that Sharp would be jailed for 23 days.
Councillor Darren Billard, portfolio holder for finance, governance and support services, said: "This case clearly shows that we do give residents every opportunity to pay their council tax if they fall behind with payments.
"However, we will and do take the necessary action if people are unwilling to work with us and to adhere to what are realistic payment orders.
"This is the sixth person to be given a custodial sentence at Grimsby Magistrates' Court for non-payment of council tax in the past year, showing that we are tough on those people who will not pay their council tax."
So far in the 2012/13 financial year, the council has used bailiffs to pursue 1,938 cases of non-payment of council tax, totalling £1.24 million.
From those cases, £260,000 has been collected.
Since 2009/10 more than 15,500 cases worth a total of £8.43 million have been sent to bailiffs, of which £2.8 million has been collected.
Councillor Billard added: "The collection of council tax is important as this pays for vital council services and we have a duty to those that do pay to ensure everyone pays.
"We do, however, take a supportive and flexible approach to help customers who are having financial difficulties, especially during the on-going economic downturn.
"We provide benefit advice and also sign post to other agencies who can support taxpayers to help manage their debts.
"We only make suitable arrangements with an external supplier, as do many other local authorities, to collect arrears after significant efforts have been made to take payments directly from the customer.
"We work hard to help those who genuinely can't pay their council tax and I would encourage anyone who is experiencing difficulties to contact us at the earliest opportunity and we will do all we can to help them."