SHOCK figures have revealed that more than £15million is overdue in Council Tax payments in Cheshire East.

That amount of money equates to the cost of the £9million all-in-one medical centre, £2million Middlewich rail link and £2million Town Wharf project which have all yet to go ahead due to funding battles.

The Guardian obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act which show that a total of £15,223,070 is outstanding with £820,143 overdue in Middlewich.

“I find the amount incredible given that with approximately 5,500 houses here it equates to £149 owed per house,” said Town Mayor Simon McGrory.

“If this were to be left unpaid as a bad debt that would mean every household would have to find at least that amount in additional council tax next year to make up that shortfall.”

“This amount could so very easily go a long way towards bringing major development schemes in the Middlewich forward, such as the medical centre, the bypass to open up employment land, and to bring Town Wharf back into use.

“I would like Cheshire East Council to explain just how they intend to ensure this money is paid and avoid law abiding residents being left to pay off the financial debts of others."

But Clr Peter Raynes, cabinet member in charge of finance, says the authority has an ‘outstanding record’ for collecting Council Tax.

“We are in the top third of all the country’s unitary authorities,” he said.

“Over the last 10 years £1.8 billion of Council Tax has been collected, and this equates to more than 99 per cent of the amount due.

“It is impossible for any council to collect 100 per cent of its council tax and the figure of £15million that is uncollected over 10 years in Cheshire East is less than one per cent of the total.

“Typically this is because individuals are declared bankrupt or residents pass away.

“However, we remain committed to ensuring that council tax is collected. Every month we make applications to the courts.

“Following these applications, we take appropriate action to collect the debt. Typically, this could mean we instruct a bailiff or arrange for a direct deduction from pay.”

Clr Mike Parsons, ward member for Middlewich, added: “People are quick to criticise the council when it’s not spending or managing money as well as it could.

“But we also have to realise we have a responsibility to pay our dues.

“If we didn’t have people reneging on Council Tax and benefit fraud we wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in now and wouldn’t be faced with a deficit.”