Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A councillor writes...

From my inbox:
May I be allowed to explain again why I fell behind with council tax payments.

We elected to pay council tax monthly at the post office along with some other bills and I agreed to make the payments. I was campaigning to retain post offices when they were being closed and felt this was a small positive action to support them. Similarly to support public transport I ususally go to County Hall by train and bus. In a period of years I missed one monthly payment last year because it slipped my mind for which I apologise, received a reminder and paid up immediately afterwards. When Radio Cornwall ran the story about 17 councillors being in council tax arrears I e-mailed their reporter Graham Smith that it was likely that I was one of them and was then interviewed on Laurence Reed's show.

The circumstamces of Alex Folkes and Andrew Wallis are different. They are both talented, hard-working, full time councillors who rely solely on their £12,000 per year allowance to support themselves. Both have given up better paid employment to serve on the council. From my long experience with the Citizen's Advice Bureau I know of the struggles many face paying their bills on very low incomes and it should be no surprise if councillors in the same situation face the same problems. So whilst in no way advocating non-payment of council tax I think Alex and Andrew deserve a little more sympathy than they are getting. Otherwise membership of Cornwall Council will become a reserve for the retired and wealthy out of touch with what it's really like to survive on low pay as many people in Cornwall have to do.

Ann Kerridge

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