GRANDFATHER Ken Woolley is demanding two apologies after Swindon Council wrongly took court action against him for non-payment of council tax he had paid in full.
The 75-year-old pledged he would go to prison rather than comply with a court order stating he must pay £1,071.92 for his house in Stafford Street, plus £100 costs, by today.
After the Adver brought the issue to the attention of Swindon Council, the authority claimed he had entered the incorrect reference number while paying on a touchtone system, but cancelled the action.
However, Mr Woolley, a landlord, says he completed the transaction with one of the council’s customer service advisors.
Now the grandfather-of-two, who says he has paid tax a year upfront on three houses since 1981, is demanding apologies from the council.
He said: “I want two apologies. I phoned up one person, he took the details down. He gave me a reference number. I didn’t do any touch phone, I can’t do touch phone anyway.
“They’re trying to cover up. They’re trying to say I did wrong, I didn’t.”
Mr Woolley said he paid the bills for his home in Stafford Street, plus a property he rented in North Street, on April 18, and then on May 4 he paid for another rented property in Rolleston Street as that bill arrived a bit later.
Bank statements shown to the Adver prove transactions matching the sums on the bills were paid to Swindon Council on these dates. Mr Woolley was ordered to appear at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on August 13 for non-payment of council tax on the Stafford Street address.
He did not attend and was issued with a notice of liability order, stating the council could apply for his committal to prison if he did not pay the tax and costs within 14 days.
Mr Woolley said he never queried the letters with Swindon Council because he had paid his tax dutifully for decades and they should have spotted the error, meaning the issue was only sorted out after the Adver contacted Swindon Council.
“I won’t go to jail now, I was looking forward to that,” he said.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We have looked into Mr Woolley’s case and discovered the council tax bill for his Stafford Street property was paid into the account of one of his other properties.
“Our records show Mr Woolley paid his bill using our touchtone system but, unfortunately, he entered the wrong reference number therefore crediting the wrong account.
“We have transferred over the payment and cancelled all the costs. Although our records show we did issue reminders to Mr Woolley, we have recently implemented a system to give even more notice to customers about any arrears.
“The new system will see us send out text messages prior to issuing reminders and summonses, where we have mobile phone numbers for customers. If customers want to pay by Direct Debit or want to provide mobile phone numbers to receive such texts, they should call the Council Tax office on 0345 302 2316.”