Council keeps its cash in ‘nightmare’ tax row

Agnes and Brian Shakesby claim the council is unfairly witholding money it owes them
Agnes and Brian Shakesby claim the council is unfairly witholding money it owes them

A Carfin couple claim they’re facing hardship because the council is determined to make them pay someone else’s 24-years’-old poll tax debt.

Former soldier and security guard Brian Shakesby and his wife Agnes argue it’s really the council that’s in debt, because it overcharged them on council tax for two years.

But they say they’ve been told “you’re not getting your money” because of a historic poll tax bill racked up by an unknown tenant at a Viewpark flat where they insist neither of them ever stayed.

The council says it won’t comment on individual cases, but adds it’s happy to discuss Mr Shakesby’s “arrears” with him.

It has written to him saying he needs to produce documentary evidence he was staying somewhere else back in the 90s.

In other correspondence, the council wants to see proof no money had been arrested from pay slips for poll tax owed at Uddingston.

It has said he can appeal its decision to transfer his alleged poll tax debt to cover their own debt to him - and he says he’s now considering what action he should take.

Altogether he’s claimed to owe more than £1,000 for poll tax at three different Uddingston addresses between 1989-90 and 1993.

The council told him they had taken the decision to use the money they now owe him for overcharging his council tax to pay the contentious poll tax bills after taking advice from their legal team.

Mrs Shakesby said she had approached a local politician for advice, and had been advised to “chap on doors” to see whether anyone remembered who was staying at the Viewpark flat where her husband is claimed to have stayed in the early 90s.

She said: “We moved down south then, moved back here in 2009, and finally managed to get a council flat here in 2011.

“Then the council overcharged us on council tax for two years, and when we discovered this they did start making the repayments.”

She added: “But now they say they’re keeping our money. To cap it all, there’s no record of Brian as a tenant at this address, or the address where he did live - it’s a nightmare.”

Mr Shakesby said: It is bizarre - my name is unusual and I’m not exactly hard to find.

“Yet for all those years nobody has approached me in any way - let alone issued me any warrant - about a supposed debt on a property in Viewpark where I have never stayed, and where there is no record of me ever staying.”

A council spokesman said: “There is still £26.5 million outstanding in unpaid Poll Tax in North Lanarkshire and the council is legally obliged to collect these arrears.

“We owe it to all of our residents and tenants who dutifully pay their local charges to recoup as much of these debts as we can.”