A Herefordshire councillor was taken to court three years running for not paying his own council tax, new figures reveal.

Three other councillors were sent reminders and or a summons for non payment of their council tax.

Altogether the council issued six summonses against its own councillors during the three years from 2015 to 2018.

Only one of the four is still a member of the council. He is former leader Roger Phillips, who represents the Arrow Ward, and was sent four reminder letters over the three year period and was summonsed twice, in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

In total his arrears amounted to £3,101 because he pays his whole year’s council tax annually, effectively paying in advance.

He said: ‘We always pay our council tax as a lump sum in May and not by instalments.

“On two occasion this was overlooked and resulted in paying the higher charges, which is not a matter I am proud of.”

Councillor Len Tawn, who represented Central Ward in Hereford for the It’s Our County group, was taken to court in each of the three years between 2015 and 2018 over council tax totalling £4,402.

He had liability orders made against him and paid a total of £255 in costs. He did not stand in the 2019 elections and has now left the area.

He said he had never attempted to avoid paying it but some monthly instalments had been overlooked at a time when his wife was ill and he was struggling to keep his business afloat.

He had never owed £4,000 as he had not missed paying the full year’s tax. All his council tax had been paid.

“We are still all human beings who have their problems.”

Councillor Adrian Blackshaw, a former cabinet member who was the Conservative candidate for West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner in 2011, was summonsed once during 2015-16 for arrears of £780.

Now retired from his Canon Pyon farm, he said he had no recollection of ever getting a summons and he had never not paid his council tax.

He could only think that the issue happened when he was paying council tax on two properties on his farm and the tax was being reassessed.

David Greenow, who lost his Hagley Ward seat in May, received two first and one second reminders over two years for just over £400.

The former Conservative councillor doubted if the information was correct and he and his wife had no recollection of it. They believed if it was the case then it might have been due to confusion over their move to a new home with an agricultural tie and the fact that they appealed the council tax rate.

“This is a surprise to us. We have never not paid our council tax, we do it monthly by direct debit.”

All the money that was owed by the councillors – amounting to £8,775 plus £425 costs – has been paid and none is outstanding.

Nationally, more than 2,400 demands for payment were sent to councillors and summonses were issued to 324, according to figures produced by the journalists in the data investigation unit run by Newsquest, owners of the Hereford Times.

The figure will be higher, but not all councils responded to requests for the information.

The Local Government Association says it proves councils pursue their own officials and that “nobody is above the law,” while the government says councillors should set an example to ‘inspire confidence and trust.’

Some councils act early by deducting money from a councillor’s allowances if they have slipped into arrears.