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Trunch businessman slams court warning over £1 council tax bill

PUBLISHED: 17:47 03 January 2012

Michael Moore received a letter from the council telling him he had council tax arrears of £1.00.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Michael Moore received a letter from the council telling him he had council tax arrears of £1.00. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2011

A north Norfolk businessman has blasted a council for threatening him with court action over tax arrears - of just £1.

Michael Moore was dumbfounded when he received a letter informing him of the outstanding balance of his council tax, which warned him if he did not pay the measly sum within five days he would be issued with a summons to magistrates court.

The 79-year-old from Trunch said he was tempted to argue the “ridiculous” case in court but ended up paying the fee to North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) in person.

“I thought it was a huge joke,” he added. “The postage alone is 40-something-pence so they have spent half their pound before they even got it.

“I went down to the council offices and all the girls in that office were horrified that this had been sent out.”

Mr Moore pays his council tax half yearly in March and October but the arrears letter did not arrive at his door until the Saturday before Christmas, and was his first indication that he had an outstanding balance.

The Brewery Road resident, whose family business includes a farm and three hotels, calculated that he had underpaid his council tax and understood NNDC had a duty to collect all rates.

But he has slammed the authority for going to the extreme of sending him a letter over such a small sum and thought the outstanding bill could have been settled in a much simpler fashion.

He said: “Why don’t they just add on a pound next year? Anybody in a normal business would do just that or even forget it, life goes on. Often I write cheques out and round it up to the nearest pound.

“I think it’s a little bit ridiculous, the petty nature of the whole thing.”

Peter Battrick, NNDC spokesman, said a number of letters like Mr Moore’s had been sent to homeowners with small council tax arrears, as the authority was doing some “housekeeping” at the end of 2011 to clear outstanding bills before it begins using a new computer system later this year.

Mr Battrick added: “The individual amounts might appear relatively small - although we drew the line at £1 - but the actual number of these meant the total due was a few thousand pounds and it is our duty to make every reasonable attempt to collect council tax due to the council.

“We are pleased that many people are paying the amounts due, even thought they are individually quite small.

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