Black’s in the red over unpaid rates

Councillor Carol Black.
Councillor Carol Black.

A well-known Dromore councillor has been taken to court over unpaid rates, it has been revealed.

The Irish News reported how Independent Councillor, Carol Black, amassed a debt of almost £2,000 in unpaid rates fees.

The paper revealed her name after challenging a Stormont body who had not initially released her details, but reversed this decision after it was argued there was a clear public interest.

Back in February, Councillor Black quit the UUP in protest at leader Mike Nesbitt’s pledge to transfer votes to the SDLP.

At the time she told the Dromore Leader that she would continue to represent the people to the best of her ability.

Land and Property Services - the Department of Finance body that collects rates - released the details following freedom of information requests.

The figures showed that at the end of 2014/15 Councillor Black owed rates worth £1,303.02 and in 2015/16 she owed £1,896.58.

It was reported that court action was taken to secure the debt.

But as of the beginning of last December the outstanding balance had still not been paid in full.

The Ulster Star contacted Land and Property Services regarding the claims and a spokesperson said: “The information is correct.”

The Irish News revealed the figures following a series of requests to Land and Property Services, who refused to name the councillors involved, regarding it as exempt ‘personal information’ under the Freedon of Information Act.

They agreed to disclose Carol Black’s name in a further Freedom of Information response, after the Irish News argued that the councillor with the largest bill should be named because they had faced court action.

LPS then disclosed the councillor’s name in a further FOI response. The Ulster Star attempted to contact Councillor Black several times yesterday (Wednesday) but she was unavailable.

Meanwhile the figures also revealed that in Belfast City Council, two councillors owed £111.60 and £174.64 at the end of 2014/15, and £56.40 and £49.15 at the end of 2015/16.

The outstanding amounts were eventually recovered by their next payments. Whilst in another council area, an elected representative had £392.24 of unpaid rates in 2014/15 but the amount was paid.