Suffolk Coastal: Unpaid £20k pub bill written off
- Credit: Andy Abbott
A DISTRICT council has abandoned its pursuit of more than £20,000 in debts owed by a former pub landlord.
Suffolk Coastal has been forced to write off the unpaid tax after the tenant “absconded without trace”.
The council’s head of resources made the decision following several failed attempts to trace the landlord, whose identity has not been disclosed.
Formal recovery proceedings were taken after bills issued for each financial year since 2009 went unpaid, prompting the council to pursue the matter through the courts.
Bailiffs were able to collect business rates due for 2009/10 and some of 2010/11 but recovery of the remaining £20,129.62 balance, from April 2010 to February 2013, has been unsuccessful.
The council’s own recovery visiting officer tried to make contact with the landlord but after several attempts it was established that they had vacated the pub.
A report to Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet said that enquiries to the owner of the premises and other tracing attempts had failed to turn up a forwarding address, meaning no further recovery action could be taken.
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The report stressed that the unsettled bills will have no adverse impact on the council’s finances as business rates, also known as national non-domestic rates, are collected by local authorities but paid into a central pool and redistributed to pay for services.
A council spokesman said the debt had been written off but that proceedings would reopen if the debtor surfaced. He added: “In this particular instance the council had no choice other than to write off this debt as the individual concerned has disappeared while our previous attempts to reclaim the money were still in progress. The money owed was being collected by the council on behalf of the Government as was the case with all business rates.
“There is no point having an outstanding debt on the books if there is no chance of collecting it and as the person has absconded without trace it makes sense to close the debt.
“However, if the person reappears, then the outstanding debt can be made active again, and the council will of course take whatever action possible to recover what it owed.”