Council chiefs have apologised to 700 residents in Harborough after sending them summonses for unpaid council tax in error.
District council staff warned the shocked taxpayers on Thursday July 15 that they faced a magistrates’ court hearing on Wednesday August 18.
But the local authority has now cancelled the summonses – and said sorry to the people who got them – because they didn’t follow procedure and send out reminders first.
Cllr James Hallam, Harborough District Council’s Cabinet lead for finance, said: “Due to a technical issue we have identified that a number of taxpayers who have received a summons dated 15 July 2021, for a court hearing on 18 August 2021, may not have received the required reminder.
“The decision has therefore been taken to cancel these summonses together with the costs.”
He added: “We will be writing to all those who received a summons to confirm that it has been withdrawn.
“We apologise for the error.”
Cllr Phil Knowles, who heads up the Liberal Democrats on Harborough council, said: “This whole episode is very worrying.
“I cannot believe that as many as 700 people across Harborough have been wrongly targeted like this.
“They must have been very shocked and upset when these summonses landed on them out of the blue.”
He added: “Mistakes do happen, we all know that, and I’m pleased that the council has apologised to all the people affected.
“But why didn’t the council take the opportunity to reassure the public on social media as soon as they realised their blunder?
“Surely that would have put people’s minds at rest – and at the same time explain what had happened here,” stressed Cllr Knowles.
“Why didn’t this trigger alarm bells on the system before the 700 documents were sent out?
“There are more questions to be asked and more answers needed over this astonishing incident.”
But Cllr Phil King, who leads Harborough council, said: “This is unfortunate.
“But mistakes do happen in administration for all sorts of reasons and this has been quickly sorted out.
“I would urge any residents who still have questions to call the council.
“Our staff will always do their best to help and support you.”