REDCAR’S MP has refused to investigate allegations of a "cover-up" around councillors not paying council tax in the town.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council refused to answer a Freedom of Information request relating to councillors not paying their council tax on time.

A recent Northern Echo investigation found that 38 of the region’s councillors had fallen into arrears to the value of more than £11,000, with some having received pre-court summonses.

Any councillor in more than two months of council tax arrears is automatically barred from voting on issues relating to financial matters.

Of those approached, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council was the only authority to refuse to respond to the Echo’s FoI request.

The request was turned down by the council’s Business Support department who said any reply would exceed cost or time limits laid out by the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In a letter to The Northern Echo, Redcar’s former council leader George Dunning said the authority’s refusal rang alarm bells and should be investigated.

Mr Dunning called on local MPs to look into the matter, saying the issue was a “serious problem” that undermined local government and public confidence.

The former Labour councillor who led the council from 2007 until earlier this year said: “Many could think this council is attempting to cover up what is a serious problem as councillors in council tax arrears cannot vote on the most important council decision: the council’s budget.

“Local MPs should investigate this because it undermines local government and public confidence.”

Today, Redcar’s MP Anna Turley refused to investigate the matter, saying the issue related to the local authority who would have processes in place to deal with council tax arrears.

Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council did not comment on Mr Dunning’s allegations of a potential cover-up.

He said any response to the Echo’s FoI request would have required manual examination of the records of more than 90 current and past elected councillors.

That task was deemed to exceed costs prescribed under the FoI Act 2000 but the council has agreed to consider any revised request.

Mr Dunning’s sentiments were echoed by a number of Echo readers who believe the 38 councillors in arrears should be named.

All local authorities have so far refused to reveal their identities.