DUDLEY Council has had to send out 11 reminder letters to councillors who have failed to pay their council tax in time over the last few years, an investigation has found.

One Tory councillor, who has not been named, received four reminders in the same year in 2016-17 – Newsquest’s Data Investigations Unit discovered.

The late-paying councillor was one of more than 600 across the country who saw reminder letters land on their door mats after failing to stump up their share towards local services in a timely fashion – responses to a Freedom of Information request revealed.

Councillors can be barred from voting on budgetary matters and determining council tax if they have outstanding council tax arrears of over two months.

Things didn’t get this far in Dudley but in 2016-17 a total of seven demands for payment were sent to elected members – including four reminders to one Conservative councillor, two reminders to a fellow Tory colleague and one reminder to another un-named Conservative colleague.

Four reminder letters were also issued the previous year (2015-16) – three of which were sent to one Conservative councillor and one to a UKIP member.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “Local authorities have a responsibility to all taxpayers to ensure that council tax is collected.

“Town halls pursuing councillors for non-payment demonstrates nobody is above the law.

“Many councils also act early when councillors get into arrears by deducting money from their allowances.”

Basic allowances for councillors in Dudley went up to £9,395 this year - with members in more senior positions receiving additional responsibility allowances on top ranging from a few hundred pounds for their extra duties up to nearly £13,000 for the leader of the authority.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council and Dudley Conservatives, said he was not aware that some members had been late paying their council tax and he added: "I understand even councillors perhaps struggle to pay bills from time to time. Not all are wealthy. We have single mums and one parent families who are councillors, people who are still working also. We don't know their personal circumstances."

But he stressed: "All members have to be up to date with their council tax prior to voting on council tax related issues. If they are not then they are prohibited from voting at the council tax setting meeting."

In Labour-run neighbouring Sandwell - town hall chiefs issued one demand for payment to a late-paying elected member in 2015-16 and one in 2017-18.

Elected members there receive £10,619 in basic allowances plus extra cash if they take on a more senior role such as a committee chairman or a cabinet post with the council leader paid £26,276 in 2017-18.