Councillor angry as Fenland District Council demands he pays council tax on empty shop
WISBECH Town Councillor Richard Fulcher has demanded to know why bailiffs were called to collect �2,700 Council Tax on an empty shop where no one has lived for years. Cllr Fulcher argued with bailiffs that the payment was not due and on Friday called in G
WISBECH Town Councillor Richard Fulcher has demanded to know why bailiffs were called to collect �2,700 Council Tax on an empty shop where no one has lived for years.
Cllr Fulcher argued with bailiffs that the payment was not due and on Friday called in Government Valuation Office inspectors to confirm the town centre shop was uninhabitable.
The councillor and Wisbech businessman says he bought the Orange Grove premises three years ago which is at the back of other commercial premises he owns and intends to open it as a Mexican restaurant.
"For heaven's sake, I sit on the town council planning committee and although I had, of course, nothing to do with this application for change of use, I knew when it was discussed," he said.
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"Permission had to be given by Fenland Council, so how on earth could they then turn around and say I owed Council Tax on it?"
Cllr Fulcher said: "I was gob smacked to be told bailiffs were on the way. They turned up and my farm demanding goods to the value of domestic Council Tax on 28 Orange Grove and threatened to remove goods to pay the bill. How can Fenland say I owe a total of �2,700 when this is for a flat that doesn't even exist?"
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He added: "The supposed flat is actually a shell. There are Mexican hats hanging on the wall, but the kitchen area is not completed, there's no bedroom and no bathroom either. If the council is doing this to me, who can stand up for myself, what must it be like for others who can't deal with it?"
He said the change of use to a food outlet was agreed in 2006, planning officers inspected the premises and it was re-rated the same year.
"I begin to wonder if there's some sort of vendetta against me," he said. "The property at Orange Grove was taken out of the listings in 2006 - so my question is who put it back into the listings?"
A spokesman for Fenland Council said: "The property is still on the Valuation Officer's list as a domestic dwelling and FDC therefore has an obligation to bill Mr Fulcher for Council Tas.
"This is really a matter between Mr Fulcher and the Valuation Officer, who is part of HM Revenue and Customs, and we are aware that they are discussing it.
"This is a personal matter for Mr Fulcher. The fact that he is a Wisbech town councillor is not relevant to the fact that he had a Council Tax liability."