ONE in seven councillors sitting on West Somerset Council failed to pay their council tax bills on time in the last financial year, despite taking responsibility for setting council tax rates for their own constituents.

Six of the district council's 28 councillors had to be sent one or more reminders after failing to pay a grand total of £1,947.70 during the 2010 to 2011 financial year.

Each reminder letter costs the taxpayer further money from the council's already stretched budget.

The council cannot disclose the names of these individuals due to a legal requirement under the Data Protection Act to process personal data of all residents in Somerset fairly and lawfully.

Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers' Alliance, slammed the councillors and questioned their credibility in light of the news.

He said: “It's unbelievable that councillors, who claim taxpayer funded allowances, have failed to pay their own council tax bills on time.

“A councillor cannot claim to be a credible representative of the community when their own actions fall well short of what a council asks of its local residents.”

Bruce Lang, Corporate Director for West Somerset Council, responded: "Many people are sent reminders and, like anyone else, councillors may miss payments through an oversight, being away or a change in circumstances.

“Our first course of action for anyone liable for outstanding council tax is to send reminder letters, which generally see the sum paid.

"If people are struggling with payments, we then ask them to contact us so that we can work with them on a payment plan. If all other routes fail we have no option but to take them to court to call in the bailiffs.”

The County Gazette was unable to contact the council's leader, Cllr Tim Taylor, for comment.