Fianna Fáil councillor believes household charge has been “badly handled”

The offices of Westmeath County Council will be open this Saturday March 31 to facilitate payment of the household charge.

There are 31,500 houses in Westmeath liable for the €100 household charge, and the council believes the percentage of people who have paid to date is roughly in line with national figures.

Fianna Fáil councillor Aidan Davitt said this week he felt the collection of the Government’s household charge had been “very badly handled from start to finish”.

“They should have looked at at least sending a bill to every household, and the post office would have been the logical process for people to pay,” he said.

His party colleague Cllr Ken Glynn said he feared that a lot of money was being spent on the Government campaign to get people to pay the charge.

“A lot of people do not wish to pay and won’t pay, but a lot of money is being spent to ensure people pay. Hopefully wisdom will prevail and there will be an extension,” he said.

Fine Gael councillor Ruth Illingworth agreed that the charge could have been better handled.

“I regret the chaos that this has caused, and I agree there is going to have to be an extension as I can’t see people being able to pay on time. I have no problem supporting the household charge but it has been handled badly and it needs to be made clear that people know how to pay.”

Meanwhile Fine Gael mayor of Mullingar Peter Burke remarked that politicians encouraging people not to pay the charge “should be ashamed of themselves”.

“It is inappropriate for legislators in this country to advise citizens to break the law. We have a number of Champagne socialists, and it makes this country a laughing stock. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

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