A BUSINESSMAN has accused a council of wasting taxpayers’ money after he was sent a bill demanding 1p from his late father.

Peter Wharton received a letter from Darlington Borough Council revenues and benefits team asking for the meagre sum to be paid for his father’s property in Danby Court, Darlington.

Mr Wharton’s 86-year-old father, Jim, died in the summer.

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However, the bill was still sent out to Mr Wharton, who is receiving mail sent to his father, and was told to pay the amount before Monday (November 19).

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council has apologised to Mr Wharton for any upset caused, but said the authority was legally obliged to send out the letter.

She said the council did not expect Mr Wharton to pay the outstanding bill. The demand, which includes deductions for single occupancy and benefit payments, states if a bill is less than £5, then the recipient does not need to pay the balance.

However, Mr Wharton, 60, who is managing director of Wharton Construction, in Kellaw Road Business Park, Darlington, has called for council officials to use common sense in such cases, particularly during the continuing austere climate.

He said: “If I am being told that I can disregard the letter, then why have they sent it out and what am I supposed to do with it?

“It just seems like a ludicrous waste of taxpayers’ money, especially at a time when the council is looking to save cash.

“Here is the perfect example of something they could have written off, but they didn’t, they put a stamp on it and posted it.

“If you asked the man on the street, I’m sure they would say that it makes no sense whatsoever.

“I know the council are probably following rules and procedures that have been laid down, but perhaps they should look at reviewing those regulations.”

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said: “We have a legal obligation to send out the letter, but we are not expecting Mr Wharton to pay the amount.

“The letters also help us keep track of a number of things, including changes within council tax bands.”