COUNCILLORS across the North-East have been sent council tax demands totalling more than £11,000, The Northern Echo can reveal.

An investigation found that almost 40 of the region’s elected councillors failed to pay their council tax bills on time, with some automatically becoming banned from carrying out related duties as a result.

At least 38 North-East councillors found themselves in arrears in recent years, according to figures released in a Freedom of Information request.

Since 2012, council tax reminder letters valued at £11,766.23 landed on the doormats of councillors representing Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough and Stockton.

While each authority refused to give the names of the councillors who had fallen into arrears, most did provide details of the parties they represented.

Demanding a total of £5,286.93, Durham County Council sent 38 reminder letters to 15 councillors, including independent members and those representing the Conservative party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Five councillors in Darlington – four Labour and one Conservative – received 16 reminders and two pre-summons to court letters demanding a total of £2,264.20.

Nine independent councillors serving Middlesbrough were sent 17 letters to the value of £2,275.37 while the same number of councillors in Stockton received 15 letters between them, asking for £1,939.73.

Those in more than two months of arrears are banned from voting at meetings of the council, the council’s executive or a committee where financial matters relating to council tax are being considered.

Under the Local Government Finance Act 1992, councillors in arrears may therefore find themselves unable to represent their electorate or undertake their duties.

The chief executive of the Tax Payers Alliance said councillors were facing the same predicament as others struggling to pay increasing council tax bills.

Jonathan Isaby said: “There are always personal circumstances to be aware of but even then taxpayers will be shocked by these figures.

“Councillors no doubt have been hit by a familiar feeling for many hard-pressed families across the region.

“When the council tax bill hits the doormat, it’s a painful hit on the wallet.

“Councils must do everything they can to make paying the bill less of a burden for councillors and non-councillors alike.”

Spokespersons for Middlesbrough Council, Durham County Council, Stockton Borough Council and Darlington Borough Council all insisted they did not differentiate between councillors and non-councillors when pursuing unpaid council tax.

Similar statements provided from each authority said every case was judged on its own merit and highlighted help, support and advice available to all struggling to pay council tax arrears.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council refused to reply to the FoI request, saying it would exceed their cost or time limit for such requests.