Danny Bamping, an independent candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport has criticised councils across the UK for serving residents over council tax arrears during the pandemic.
He said: “Wiltshire Council have summonsed 3,474 people to attend court for non-payment of council tax; despite the country being in lockdown and a ban on gatherings over six.
“If only 10 per cent of them turn up; they will have a massive problem; if just 1 per cent turn up – that will be still far too many.”
The council said that between August and September it issued 13,159 reminder letters over council tax urging people to get in touch.
On Tuesday, November 24 there were 16 attendees at Swindon Magistrates of those summons and of the 3,474 summons issues 2,592 resulted in liability orders.
The rest were either paid or withdrawn, according to the council.
Cabinet member for finance, Pauline Church said: “We sent out 13,159 reminder letters between August and September this year and this resulted in a high number of people getting in touch to agree payment plans and get more information on the support available to them, which we were very happy to oblige with.
“Of those 13,159 we, unfortunately, had to arrange 3,347 summons to be issued, but this again gave people time and the opportunity to get in touch to discuss their options and concerns with us.
“Overall the number of summonses issued is less than at the same time last year.”
Cllr Church acknowledged that 2020 has been a challenging year for residents and asked anyone struggling to contact the council.
“We don’t want people to suffer in silence,” she said.
The council added that Swindon Magistrates has run hearings throughout lockdown and they decide to go ahead.