Stockton : Tory Councillor suspended for failing to pay council tax on second home

A councillor is being investigated by his own party for failing to pay his council tax.

Andrew Sherris, Conservative councillor for Yarm and Kirklevington on Stockton Borough Council, was suspended by his party on Monday pending an investigation into “financial irregularities”.

It is understood Cllr Sherris was in arrears with his council tax on a second property he owns.

Last night he said the matter was “confidential” and it is in the hands of the council’s solicitor.

The bill is now believed to have been sorted out, but the Conservative Party is pressing ahead with its investigation.

Stockton Borough Council refused to confirm whether Cllr Sherris had any tax bill issues last night, saying it was confidential, citing the Data Protection Act.

It has previously said he is not under investigation by the council itself.

Ben Houchen, leader of the Conservative Group on Stockton Borough Council, launched the investigation on Monday and suspended Cllr Sherris, saying his behaviour had fallen below the standard expected of an elected Conservative councillor.

Councillors in arrears with council tax by more than two months are not allowed to vote on the precept. When councillors voted on the rise in council tax last week Cllr Sherris was absent – but said that he was on holiday at the time.

 He has already been deselected by his party and was planning on standing as an independent candidate in May.

He said yesterday he believed the investigation was an ‘unjustified attack‘ and was a move to discredit him ahead of the elections. His support of fellow former Conservative councillor Mark Chatburn, who defected to Ukip, had “not been well received” by his party, he said.

He added: “I will be standing as an independent councillor in the coming elections in May, putting local people first, as always, ahead of party politics.”

Cllr Houchen, who is also chairman of Stockton Conservative Association, said if the allegations were true he “would not be acting in the best interests of residents not to take action”.

 He said Cllr Sherris had been deselected from the party because, while on the planning committee, he had voted in favour of housing developments in and around Yarm, and it was felt he was not representing local people.
Source – Northern Echo, 04 Mar 2015
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