Couple arrested over council tax debt

August 30 2019

A COUPLE have been ordered to pay more than £4,000 and handed a 12-week suspended sentence for refusing to pay council tax on a house they owned in Kingswood between 2014 and 2018.
Rachel and Paul Wells, now living in Wales, were arrested at their home in Treorchy and taken to Bristol Magistrates Court, ten months after their first hearing at the same court in July 2018.
At the original hearing, Mrs Wells explained that paying council tax had not been a priority due to their financial circumstances. She told the court that the property in Kingswood was undergoing completion and should be sold within four to five weeks.  On this evidence, magistrates agreed to adjourn the case until August. However, they would not need to attend if the property had been sold and the money was paid to South Gloucestershire Council.
In August 2018 the debt was still due and the couple failed to attend court. This led to a further adjournment until September and attempts were made to contact the couple to discuss their non-attendance, without success.
When it came to the September hearing, Mr and Mrs Wells again failed to attend. South Gloucestershire Council requested an application for a warrant without bail which was granted by magistrates.
Further investigations found that the couple had sold their Kingswood property in August and had moved to Wales.
The couple were told to pay £4,331.66 and given a 12-week suspended sentence.
South Gloucestershire Council’s cabinet member for corporate resources, Cllr Ben Burton, said: “This couple were given every opportunity to pay the council tax they owed but still tried to avoid it at all costs. “The vast majority of hard working people pay their council tax on time and it isn’t fair that some try to cheat the system.”