Bankrupt councillor forced to resign
By Liz HearnshawA COUNCILLOR who was adjudged bankrupt after failing to return tax forms has been disqualified from holding office - after a fellow member reported the action.
By Liz Hearnshaw
A COUNCILLOR who was adjudged bankrupt after failing to return tax forms has been disqualified from holding office - after a fellow member reported the action.
But Robert Everitt, who was elected to St Edmundsbury Borough Council as a Conservative member last May, plans to fight for an annulment of the High Court decision to reverse the ruling.
The former Risbygate Ward representative blamed his own actions for the bankruptcy judgment, admitting he failed to return self-assessment tax forms over a three-year period.
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Mr Everitt said he was completing the necessary paperwork in time for February's court hearing in London, but then misread the date. The case then went ahead while he was on a school trip in his role as a governor.
“It was my fault and it was crass stupidity for not doing the right things in the right order,” said Mr Everitt, who was disqualified from the council as a result of the action.
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“I have given my role as a councillor my all and it has been the best experience. I have enjoyed helping people who have needed it and being a part of the development of Bury St Edmunds.
“The reason I stood is because I love Bury to bits. It is a beautiful little town and I wanted to be a part of making sure it remained that way. To have that snatched away for my own crass stupidity is galling at the very least.”
The former councillor has now completed the necessary forms and will present them at an annulment hearing in about three weeks' time.
Mr Everitt said he did not inform the authority of his status as a bankrupt because he hoped the ruling would have quickly been reversed - but a fellow member reported the incident to council bosses after seeing a public notice in a newspaper.
“I am just sorry I did not take steps to prevent this. I have learned a valuable lesson,” he added.
Mr Everitt will now speak to his ward residents and the Conservative group before making a decision on restanding for May's by-election.
A spokeswoman for the council confirmed Mr Everitt had been disqualified under the Local Government Act 1972 after he was adjudged bankrupt.
“The disqualification is with immediate effect and a notice of vacancy in Risbygate Ward, Bury, has been published. A by-election will then follow in May, but a final date has not yet been set,” she added.
Mr Everitt served as a member of the council's overview and scrutiny committee, Cattle Market redevelopment working party and planning policy panel.