Amputee criticises council for charging extra council tax on home he can't live in (From The Northern Echo)
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Amputee slams council for charging extra council tax on Darlington home he can't live in
AN AMPUTEE has criticised a North-East council for 'preying on the vulnerable' as he faces paying more council tax on a property he is unable to live in.
Pensioner Alec Telford was forced to move out of his family home of 37 years after a leg amputation meant it was unsuitable for his needs.
After moving into privately rented accommodation, Mr Telford, 78, put his Darlington home up for sale - but in the current market it has failed to attract any offers, despite a £20,000 price cut.
Unable to sell the house or rent it due to clauses in his current tenancy agreement, Mr Telford now faces having to pay one-and-a-half times the council tax on his empty home as well as paying council tax on his rented property.
The so-called empty property premium is designed to return vacant homes to use.
He believes he is being financially punished for a situation beyond his control and wants to raise awareness, believing other disabled and vulnerable people could face the same situation.
Mr Telford – who served for 22 years in the RAF – said: “We put a lot into this country and haven’t asked for a lot back.
“I lost my leg and my wife underwent a mastectomy and developed lymphodema. We are from World War II stock and try to take things on the chin but we wouldn’t wish our situation on anybody, not even the council.
“I didn’t want to move and would move back tomorrow if possible. We haven’t asked the council for any help financially and have been paying full council tax on both properties for months.
“Now we are looking at paying more, which is added financial pressure. We will manage but there are people in our situation who couldn’t.
“It’s frustrating. We are using the council’s services less but having to pay more. The council is going after anybody who is vulnerable."
A spokeswoman from Darlington Borough Council said Mr Telford had received a short-term exemption on his property and would not have to pay their empty property premium until October 2014.
She said: “In line with the Council’s policy of reducing empty homes and bringing these back into use, it was felt that the one month discount and empty property premium struck the right balance between giving homeowners and landlords relief on their Council Tax for short periods, whilst encouraging properties to be brought back into use as soon as possible.”
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