Man, 96, in tax error anguish

Paperwork and stress over tax bills ... the council has said it will apologise to Fred Burr
Paperwork and stress over tax bills ... the council has said it will apologise to Fred Burr

A blunder over council tax payments has left a 96-year-old war veteran embarrassed and distressed.

The error was made by Lewes District Council in processing Fred Burr’s bill.

He gives the money to his son, who makes the tax payments - and his father’s rent - at the Post Office on his behalf, using the official cards issued by the council.

The initial monthly tax payment of £20.20 at the start of the financial year went though. But then the problems began.

The card failed to work correctly and a new one was issued by the council to Fred. His son thought it odd that it had a different code number on it.

Then the great-grandad received a letter from the council saying he had missed a payment.

It threatened that if he did not pay he would be liable for the full annual bill.

Son Alan Burr, of Hurdis Road, Bishopstone, queried this. “The council said the rent card was being used – it clearly wasn’t as it has ‘Council Tax Payment Card’ written on it,” he said.

“Then they wouldn’t talk to us unless they got a letter from my father, which was sent. With the next payment we sent photographs to prove the right card was being used.

“Blow me, the council came back and said we were paying with the wrong card again. My father has never missed paying a bill in his life.”

He continued: “They still wouldn’t talk to us directly as they knew they had messed up.”

Local MP Maria Caulfield got involved in the dispute and emailed the council. The next day Fred received a new card - with the original code number on it.

Alan said: “So they knew they made errors and kept putting the blame on my father. The council has behaved appallingly putting such stress on my father at his time of life and no apologies.”

Fred, of Crouch Lane, Seaford, who served in the RAF during the Second World War, said: “They made me feel like a liar and a cheat.”

A spokesman for Lewes District Council said: “We have now identified the issue and will be in contact with Mr Burr to apologise for the inconvenience.”