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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Dispute over £15,000 council tax bill for empty property

A COPELAND councillor is disputing a £15,000 council tax bill over what she says are half-finished properties.

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TAXING SITUATION: Carole Woodman in one of the rooms

Egremont councillor Carole Woodman is secretary of a family-run business which has been renovating properties at Hollins Mansion in Mirehouse.

The council says the flats are ready to live in and the bill must be paid. But Coun Woodman denies this and says the family firm has also clocked up a £15,000 legal bill fighting the case so far.

The company, RGM Properties Ltd, is owned by her brother, and she says it is not worth the business investing any more money in the building unless it is supported by Copeland Council. As a result it could fall into disrepair, she claims.

Coun Woodman appealed Copeland’s decision at an independent valuation tribunal. All the appeals were dismissed. The family business is set to go back to another valuation hearing on October 24.

She said: “I’m in a difficult position as I’m a councillor and also secretary of the company. We want to work with the council, but Copeland have washed their hands of it.

“If the council had worked with us, the properties should have been completed and occupied by now, providing the council with much-needed council tax. As they stand, they have received nothing – it has cost the taxpayer money.”

Paul Walker, Copeland Borough Council chief executive, said: “We have been investigating the issues surrounding Hollins Mansion, and will shortly be writing to the parties involved with our findings. Until this work is completed we are unable to comment any further.”

Coun Woodman says RGM Properties Ltd bought the former mansion in 2000 and retrospective planning permission was granted in 2005 for seven flats to be developed. “It was something my brother was interested in, but it was a much bigger project than we anticipated,” she said.

Work was carried out by builders to repair the heating system, coat sandstone, and fit carpets and kitchens.

Coun Woodman said her daughter and a housekeeper moved into the flats temporarily and it was apparent that more work needed to be carried out and fire regulations also needed to be imposed.

A financial survey was carried out by Copeland Council in May 2009, where the officer deemed all of the properties habitable and ordered the company to pay council tax, backdating it to 2008. Coun Woodman disputes the results of the survey.

Coun Woodman contacted The Whitehaven News recently after thieves stole lead from the balcony of the property, causing thousands of pounds of damage. She raised questions about whether it is worth paying out for repair work to be done.

Have your say

Labour don't like it when it's time for them to cough up for their own taxes.

Posted by Ben on 23 September 2012 at 17:51

You lost your appeal. Pay up!!

Posted by Bob a job on 20 September 2012 at 20:50

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