Household charge letters sent in error

Three elected members of Longford County Council have been sent letters reminding them to pay the household charge despite having already paid the charge.

The councillors are believed to have been among a number of people around the county who were contacted in error.

Cllrs Paul Connell, Paddy Belton and Victor Kiernan were contacted by the council seeking the household charge.

Cllr Victor Kiernan, received two letters, one of which he claimed was for a house that had been bulldozed over two decades ago.

“Yes, I did get two letters and one was for a house in Clonee which would have been knocked around 20 years ago.”

Cllr Kiernan said confusion may also have arisen with difficulties arising from Land Register details.

“My right and full name would be Michael Francis Victor (Kiernan), so it (reminder letter) may have come from an old folio or land number,” he said adding that he had paid the charge in relation to his own property.

Cllrs Paul Connell and Paddy Belton were also in receipt of reminder letters.

In correspondence sent to Cllr Connell’s home in Ardagh, council staff informed the Independent representative he owed a further €28 in penalties.

The Tesco employee, who insisted he paid the flat level €100 sum on the eve of the March 31 deadline, said he had been left baffled by the error.

“Something like 5-6,000 letters have been issued by the Household Charge Division. It is important and speaking as a member of the council, I don’t want to see this kind of thing happening again. Our PPS numbers are known to the council so the letter shouldn’t have come out,” he said.

As those investigations continue this week, Cllr Belton described the blunder as “very embarrassing” for all concerned.

“I had my household charge paid since January 6. They claim in Longford that they didn’t get the full list of people that had paid. I mean it’s hard enough for people out there as it is. It’s the people who haven’t paid that should be got,” he said.

A statement from Longford County Council said the slip-up occurred because of a lack of information gathering at a central level.

“There is no comprehensive database in existence which could be used to collect the charge and the HHC (Household Charge) Bureau has had to create one from scratch,” it said.

Until now, the council stressed only two main channels have been left open to them for collecting the charge-the NPPR (non principal private residence) database and a Property Registration Authority (PRA), the latter of which contains “some very old” ownership details, it said.

“The Council regrets the fact that some letters have been issued in error and urges anyone in this situation to contact the Bureau as soon as possible so that the records can be rectified.”




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