Authority apologises after Darlington man receives meagre demand

Darlington and Stockton Times: MAKES NO SENSE: Peter Wharton, who received a council tax bill demanding 1p from his late father MAKES NO SENSE: Peter Wharton, who received a council tax bill demanding 1p from his late father

A BUSINESSMAN has accused a council of wasting taxpayers’ money after he was sent a bill demanding 1p from his late father.

Peter Wharton received a letter from Darlington Borough Council revenues and benefits team asking for the meagre sum to be paid for his father’s property in Danby Court, Darlington.

Mr Wharton’s 86-year-old father, Jim, died in the summer.

However, the bill was still sent out to Mr Wharton, who is receiving mail sent to his father, and was told to pay the amount before Monday (November 19).

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council has apologised to Mr Wharton for any upset caused, but said the authority was legally obliged to send out the letter.

She said the council did not expect Mr Wharton to pay the outstanding bill. The demand, which includes deductions for single occupancy and benefit payments, states if a bill is less than £5, then the recipient does not need to pay the balance.

However, Mr Wharton, 60, who is managing director of Wharton Construction, in Kellaw Road Business Park, Darlington, has called for council officials to use common sense in such cases, particularly during the continuing austere climate.

He said: “If I am being told that I can disregard the letter, then why have they sent it out and what am I supposed to do with it?

“It just seems like a ludicrous waste of taxpayers’ money, especially at a time when the council is looking to save cash.

“Here is the perfect example of something they could have written off, but they didn’t, they put a stamp on it and posted it.

“If you asked the man on the street, I’m sure they would say that it makes no sense whatsoever.

“I know the council are probably following rules and procedures that have been laid down, but perhaps they should look at reviewing those regulations.”

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said: “We have a legal obligation to send out the letter, but we are not expecting Mr Wharton to pay the amount.

“The letters also help us keep track of a number of things, including changes within council tax bands.”

Comments (8)

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6:29pm Thu 15 Nov 12

bunt61 says...

Where has "common sence" gone?
Where has "common sence" gone? bunt61

6:38pm Thu 15 Nov 12

Davy Crocket says...

It doesn't appear to sit at Darlington Council.
It doesn't appear to sit at Darlington Council. Davy Crocket

7:11pm Thu 15 Nov 12

Herorich says...

Staggering!
Staggering! Herorich

9:34am Fri 16 Nov 12

Quakerz says...

bunt61 wrote:
Where has "common sence" gone?
To the Spelling Police?
[quote][p][bold]bunt61[/bold] wrote: Where has "common sence" gone?[/p][/quote]To the Spelling Police? Quakerz

1:59pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Homshaw1 says...

The council is legally obliged to send a bill that is for less than the postage but they don't expect the money to be paid.

What a load of rubbish. The place is being run by twits

It would have been better if the council had said sorry we handle a large volume of letters and this was a mistake

No wonder these council officers are not prepared to have their names published
The council is legally obliged to send a bill that is for less than the postage but they don't expect the money to be paid. What a load of rubbish. The place is being run by twits It would have been better if the council had said sorry we handle a large volume of letters and this was a mistake No wonder these council officers are not prepared to have their names published Homshaw1

4:41pm Fri 16 Nov 12

tpk says...

Standard procedure by DBC, I have a rented property and whenever I'm between tenants I receive a bill for £0.00 when the old tenant moves out & another for £0.00 when a new tenant moves in.
Standard procedure by DBC, I have a rented property and whenever I'm between tenants I receive a bill for £0.00 when the old tenant moves out & another for £0.00 when a new tenant moves in. tpk

10:55pm Fri 16 Nov 12

Spy Boy says...

Two reasons for such behaviour : It's when people are too thick to make a decision themselves, so they resort to the letter of the procedure. On the other hand, employees are constantly watching their own backs to make sure the executives are not hovering over them with a knife. Not claiming the 1p may be grounds for them to be put on some disciplinary charge.
Two reasons for such behaviour : It's when people are too thick to make a decision themselves, so they resort to the letter of the procedure. On the other hand, employees are constantly watching their own backs to make sure the executives are not hovering over them with a knife. Not claiming the 1p may be grounds for them to be put on some disciplinary charge. Spy Boy

3:37pm Sat 17 Nov 12

Jaga says...

Despite my continuing belief that the combined IQ of the Council is about 2, the letter will almost certainly have been computer generated, without human intervention. So, perhaps some may blame the computer. But definitely no. A computer will only do what it is told to do, in this case send a completely stupid letter. Had our brainless council (at the time of commissioning) instructed the programmers to exclude such low arrears, there would have been no problem. Reduce IQ level to 1.5 I think.
Despite my continuing belief that the combined IQ of the Council is about 2, the letter will almost certainly have been computer generated, without human intervention. So, perhaps some may blame the computer. But definitely no. A computer will only do what it is told to do, in this case send a completely stupid letter. Had our brainless council (at the time of commissioning) instructed the programmers to exclude such low arrears, there would have been no problem. Reduce IQ level to 1.5 I think. Jaga

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