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Saturday 1 November 2014

PAY UP! even if you are dead

HOUSEHOLD CHARGE LETTERS SENT TO PEOPLE DEAD FOR 70 YEARS

MARIA HERLIHY

Published 15/11/2012 | 10:46

PEOPLE who have been dead "for up to 70 years" have been written to about not paying the household charge, ascenario blasted by councillors as "a major PR cock-up" at Cork County Council on Monday.

The letter, which had the logo of Cork County Council on it but using information which stemmed from the household bureau in Dublin, was not only sent to dead people but also to people who have already paid the €100 household charge.

At County Hall on Monday, irate councillors let rip their fury about the thousands of letters which have been sent out. PEOPLE who have been dead "for up to 70 years" have been written to about not paying the household charge, ascenario blasted by councillors as "a major PR cock-up" at Cork County Council on Monday.

The letter, which had the logo of Cork County Council on it but using information from the household bureau in Dublin, was not only sent to dead people but also to people who have already paid the €100 household charge.

At County Hall on Monday, irate councillors let rip their fury about the thousands of letters which have been sent out.

Cllr Dermot Sheahan (FG) said that people who have been dead for up to 70 years were getting letters. "Just where are they getting the names from? Is it from the 1901 and 1911 census?," he said. He described the fiasco as a "major PR cockup."

Cllr Michael Creed (FG) said the money for the household charge has to be collected but the database is completely out of date. He said people who haven't lived in houses for 40 years ended up getting letters.

He said that the county manager, Martin Riordan, was lucky in that the backlash of the letters has resulted in the 48 county councillors getting the flack for it.

Cllr Timmy Collins (Ind) said there was one woman crying on the radio that she just didn't have the money and was terrified of going to jail.

Cllr Tim Burton (FG) said one of his constituents got two letters but they had already paid the charge paid.

Cllr Dan Joe Fitzgerald (FF) said he also got two letters, even though he paid the charge very early on.

However, Manager Martin Riordan shot back at the councillors and said while it was regrettable that people got a letter which caused upset, he repeatedly said that "nobody got a bill" and the letter was not a threat.

"The whole purpose of this letter is to say that if the details are wrong and to contact the bureau to set it straight. It is not a bill. It is not a threat. A paragraph even outlines if the recipient has received the letter in error," he said.

Mr Riordan said that Cork County Council are "duty bound" to collect the household charge. So far, 140,000 residents have paid the charge which currently amounts to 63%. However, Cork County Council needs to hit 65% by the end of November in order to avoid a budget cut of €170,000.

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