Councillors with second home vote on council tax rate

Three district councillors who own rental or second homes were given permission to vote in a debate about the rate of tax incurred from additional properties.

Jenny Antill, councillor for Waldingfield, Jennie Jenkins (Leavenheath) and John Sayers (Sudbury) were three of seven Babergh councillors given permission to vote at a council meeting held in December despite declaring an interest.

The dispensation was given because only 29 Babergh councillors attended the meeting, held on December 18, and the council wanted to ensure all residents within the district were represented, saying the potential financial impact to councillors was “relatively low”.

From April, owners of empty or unoccupied furnished properties will have to pay 100 per cent, rather than 90 per cent council tax.

Great Cornard councillor Tony Bavington was also listed as being given special dispensation to vote because of his involvement as a representative on the shared revenues partnership joint committee, as well as being a second home owner, but he said this was a mistake on the minutes.

“I do not own a second home and, to be honest, if I could afford a second house, it would be in France.”

Mrs Jenkins, council leader, said she did not own a second home but had declared her granny annexe which was a separate building at her home.

In an application for special dispensation to vote, Mrs Antill said she did not believe her taking part in the vote would affect her judgement.

“The additional council tax to which we will be liable is unlikely to be significant in the overall context of our property business or our financial position as a whole,” she said.

On the council’s register of interests, Mrs Antill and her husband jointly hold the freehold interest in five properties in Acton and Sudbury.

Councillors are obliged by law to declare any interest on matters to be discussed at meetings.