Council accidentally sues itself - blames ‘process change’

Nicholas Everitt Park, in Oulton Broad. Picture: Archant.

Nicholas Everitt Park, in Oulton Broad. Picture: Archant. - Credit: Archant

A council has said a change in how business rates were processed caused an error which saw it sue itself for nearly £800.

Waveney District Council had sent a court summons to its own finance department asking it to appear before Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court later this month.

The dispute was over the non-payment of £718.20 of non-domestic rates connected with the Nicholas Everitt Park Trust over the span of six years between October 2010 and April 2017, plus £60 summons costs.

The trust has since been transferred over to Oulton Broad Parish Council after it was established in May last year.

Waveney District Council admitted the summons was sent in error and said as soon as they were alerted to the mistake it was withdrawn.

A spokesman for the council said: 'Due to a change in the process, business rates relating to the trust were not processed which triggered an automated summons to be issued to the trust care of the council.

'For security reasons, summons documents are produced and packed by machine, resulting in the summons to the council being issued in error.

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'The council's officers acted promptly and withdrew the summons as soon as they became aware of this error. The process was corrected immediately and the trust's business rate account was adjusted accordingly.'

Leader of the Waveney Labour Group and councillor for Kirkley, Peter Byatt, said: 'Lets just hope that this is an isolated incident and we are not going to find Waveney District Council suing themselves on similar petty matters in the future.

'It is sometimes that we forget that the human touch might need to be relied on to double check and things have always ought to build into it somewhere some sort of a safety check.

'It is alright for a small amount but what if it was more as there are always associated legal costs involved.'

Conservative councillor for Oulton Broad, Keith Robinson, added: 'I think the council is run by human beings and human being are running departments and human beings make mistakes.

'We are all fallible and we try to do as best as we can but administrative procedures don't always work. It is just one of those things that happen.'

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