Local news bites and information will be published below in date order they are received
23 June 2017 – Council’s recover £1.6 million in unpaid council tax charges
Councils recover over £1.6million unpaid council tax
Over £1.6million in council tax arrears was recovered last year thanks to enforcement action taken by South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils.
In 2016/17 the councils issued over 5,300 court summonses to people who had failed to pay their council tax. Magistrates then granted liability orders against 3,600 of those individuals – this meant enforcement action, including the use of bailiffs, could be taken to retrieve the money.
Almost all of those in arrears then paid the money they owed, however the councils were forced to take further action against 96 people to ensure they paid their fair share towards the cost of providing public services.
This resulted in 53 people receiving charging orders – which allows the councils to enforce the sale of a persons’ property to retrieve the money. One person who deliberately failed to pay was sent to prison, while seven were given suspended sentences.
The councils also recovered and saved a further £167,000 after 62 people were caught claiming discounts on their council tax they weren’t entitled to. This resulted in nine being prosecuted in court and 47 fined.
Cllr Jane Murphy, Deputy Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council said: “It’s vital that everyone pays their fair share for the services we provide, such as waste and recycling collections. Anyone who doesn’t do so puts added pressure on the public purse and effectively cheats all those who do contribute.”
Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Help is always available for anyone who is genuinely struggling to pay, however if someone deliberately refuses to pay we won’t hesitate to take tough enforcement action – this could result in a court appearance, a prison sentence or even someone losing their home.”
9 May 2017 – Man fined for bath tub fly-tip
A man from Swindon has been fined £2,000 after admitting dumping rubbish, including a bath tub, toilet and sink, in Longcot.
Ian Baker, 36, of Ramsbury Avenue, Swindon, appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 2 May when he pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching the Environmental Protection Act after fly-tipping rubbish on Old Wharf Road on Saturday 15 October 2016.
Magistrates’ heard how environment enforcement officers from Vale of White Horse District Council found evidence at the scene linking the rubbish back to an address in Swindon. The occupant confirmed the rubbish had been removed from her property by Ian Baker who was trading as Forebak Removals.
Baker had agreed to remove the rubbish after accepting the booking via Facebook for £30. Despite being a registered waste carrier he chose to dump the rubbish rather than take it to an authorised waste and recycling centre.
Magistrates fined Ian Baker £2,000 and ordered him to pay £632 costs and a victim surcharge of £150.
Paul Holland, Environmental Protection Manager at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Fly-tipping can be a real blight on the landscape and shows a total disregard for the community in that area.
“A waste removal booking for a number of items like this will typically cost over £100, so if the price seems too good to be true I would urge people to seek an alternative quote.”
4 May 2017 – Man fined for Fly-tip following Facebook waste booking
A man who accepted waste removal bookings on Facebook has been fined £500 after rubbish was found fly-tipped in Harwell.
Adrian Tarft, 37, of Wash Common, Newbury, pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 25 April to four charges in relation to breaching his duty of care under the Environmental Protection Act and one charge of transporting waste without being a registered waste carrier.
Magistrates heard how, on 21 March 2016, Environmental Health Officers from Vale of White Horse District Council received a call from a local farmer who had found rubbish, including a television, tyres and carpet, fly-tipped at the entrance to a field he owned along the A417 London Road in Harwell.
Officers were able to trace the waste to an address in Reading where a resident confirmed that she had made the booking with Tarft who was trading as Ebony Landscapes. The resident had made the booking via Facebook after seeing an advert Tarft had placed on the social media site.
In an interview under caution Tarft admitted accepting the booking for £100 and removing the waste without being licensed to do so, but denied dumping the rubbish. He claimed that an associate had his van at the time the fly-tip took place but declined to identify the person allegedly responsible.
In court Magistrates fined Tarft £500 and ordered him to pay the council’s £1,886 prosecution costs.
Paul Holland, Environmental Protection Manager at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “By law anyone being paid to transport waste must be registered to do so and have a record of what the rubbish is and where they’ve taken it.
“If you book a waste collection you also have a legal responsibility for checking that it’s taking place legally, so please double check any references, and ask to see documentation, before you hand any money over.”
If you see a fly-tip on public land in the Vale of White Horse please report it by calling 03000 610 610 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.