Wisbech man jailed for refusal to pay Council Tax

Council tax

Council tax - Credit: Archant

A Wisbech man has been jailed for failing to pay six years' worth of Council Tax, amounting to nearly £7,650.

Dean Cousins was arrested last week after ignoring a summons requiring him to appear in court to explain why he had been disobeying an earlier court order.

And last Wednesday (February 17) Peterborough magistrates sentenced him to 90 days in prison.

The case was brought by Fenland District Council.

Enforcement agents from the Anglia Revenues Partnership, acting on the council's behalf, accompanied police at last week's arrest.

Three years ago, in 2013, Mr Cousins, of Kingsley Avenue, Wisbech, had been taken to court by the council on account of the Council Tax debt of nearly £7,650 that he had run up since 2008.

Magistrates ruled then that he was showing 'wilful refusal' by failing to pay for so long when he had no good mitigating reason.

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They imposed a 90-day prison sentence, suspended on condition that he made payments of £200 a month until the debt was cleared.

Since then Mr Cousins has failed to make a single payment.

Last week magistrates decided that his continuing refusal to pay left them with no alternative but to send him straight to prison.

Mr Cousins offered no explanation for his continued non-payment. As part of the evidence against him, the court was shown photos of winning slips from Coral Bookmakers and a pile of £50 notes on the floor.

In the past eight years Mr Cousins has failed to pay Council Tax as billed every year and made low payments only when pursued by bailiffs.

More than once he claimed a single person discount when he wasn't eligible – an offence for which he was fined £70 in 2010.

He now owes £10,850 Council Tax - the original debt of £7,650 plus the bills and recovery costs for 2014/15 and 2015/16, all of which he remains liable to pay.

Councillor Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council's cabinet member responsible for finance, said: 'We are pleased by the verdict and the sentence. We apply for committal to prison only where there is no alternative and there appears no good reason for non-payment, as in this case. We hope it serves as a clear warning to others who simply refuse to pay.

'It also underlines the need for anyone who is in arrears or has genuine problems with payments to contact us immediately. Don't bury your head in the sand and let your debt spiral out of control; get in touch so that we can discuss the situation and agree the best way to resolve the issue.'