Review urged over council tax decision involving site of Dominic Cummings’ trip

Labour has called for a review of the decision not to charge thousands of pounds in backdated council tax on the property where Downing Street senior adviser Dominic Cummings stayed during his famous Durham lockdown visit.

The leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, said there was mounting anger about the Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) decision not to pursue council tax on two buildings which had been converted into homes without planning permission at Mr Cummings' parents' farm.

It has been estimated that the backdated council tax bill for the two homes could be more than £30,000, as they were converted some years ago.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street, London, with a box, following reports that he is set to leave his position by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street, London, with a box, following reports that he is set to leave his position by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street, London, with a box, following reports that he is set to leave his position by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street, London, with a box, following reports that he is set to leave his position by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves 10 Downing Street, London, with a box, following reports that he is set to leave his position by the end of the year.
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his residence in London on November 13, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings is set to leave his position by early 2021, as a power struggle at the heart of government became public this week. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his residence in London on November 13, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings is set to leave his position by early 2021, as a power struggle at the heart of government became public this week. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London following reports that he is set to leave his Downing Street position by the end of the year. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London following reports that he is set to leave his Downing Street position by the end of the year. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London following reports that he is set to leave his Downing Street position by the end of the year. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings leaves his residence in London on November 13, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings is set to leave his position by early 2021, as a power struggle at the heart of government became public this week. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings arrives in Downing Street, London, following reports that he is set to leave his Downing Street position by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London following reports that he is set to leave his Downing Street position by the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings arrives in Downing Street, London, the morning after Lee Cain announced he is resigning as Downing Street's director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London the morning after the announcement that Lee Cain is resigning as Downing Street's director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London the morning after the announcement that Lee Cain is resigning as Downing Street's director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London for a second time the morning after the announcement that Lee Cain is resigning as Downing Street's director of communications and will leave the post at the end of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's top aide Dominic Cummings leaves his home in north London following reports that he is set to leave his Downing Street position by the end of the year.
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings (R) and government advisor Cleo Watson arrive in Downing street in London on November 13, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings is set to leave his position by early 2021, as a power struggle at the heart of government became public this week. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Dominic Cummings, the chief advisor to Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, chats to a police officer after moving his car in Downing Street, London, Wednesday, July 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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Senior aide to the prime minister Dominic Cummings leaves following a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London.
Dominic Cummings, Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister, arrives in Downing Street, London.
Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, arrives in Downing Street, London.
Number 10 special advisor Dominic Cummings arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on December 16, 2019. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed Saturday to repay the trust of former opposition voters who gave his Conservatives a mandate to take Britain out of the European Union next month. Johnson toured a leftist bastion once represented by former Labour leader Tony Blair in a bid to show his intent to unite the country after years of divisions over Brexit. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his advisor Dominic Cummings, left, leave 10 Downing Street in London, and get in a car together to go to the Houses of Parliament, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it's Parliament's fault, not his, that Britain will not be leaving the European Union as scheduled on Oct. 31. The EU has agreed to postpone Brexit until Jan. 31, 2020, after Johnson failed to get British lawmakers to ratify his divorce deal with the bloc in time to leave this week. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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Dominic Cummings, a senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, attends the book launch of Winning Against the Odds: My Life in Gambling and Politics by Stuart Wheeler at Carlton House Terrace, London.
Senior political aide Dominic Cummings speaks to Stuart Wheeler, at his book launch for Winning Against the Odds: My Life in Gambling and Politics, at Carlton House Terrace, London.
Dominic Cummings, a senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, attends the book launch of Winning Against the Odds: My Life in Gambling and Politics by Stuart Wheeler at Carlton House Terrace, London.
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Pro remain campaigner Steve Bray interviews Dominic Cummings as he arrives at the Cabinet office in London,United Kingdom on 22nd August 2019. (photo by Claire Doherty/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Dominic Cummings arrives in Downing Street, London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his senior aid Dominic Cummings as they leave Downing Street, central London.
Senior aide to the prime minister Dominic Cummings, in Downing Street in Westminster, London.
Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves his home in London, Britain, September 2, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, leaves his home in London, Britain, September 2, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
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EMBARGOED TO 2330 THURSDAY AUGUST 6 File photo dated 21/07/20 of senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, whose trip to Durham at the height of lockdown while suffering from Covid-19 drastically undermined public trust in the Government�s handling of the pandemic, according to new research.
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Councillor Henig has asked senior officers to see if they can appeal against the decision, and will ask for a Parliamentary Review of the VOA's actions.

Mr Cummings and his wife took his son to his parents' farm at North Lodge when the country was in lockdown in April after the adviser and his wife experienced coronavirus symptoms.

It was during this break that he controversially drove to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight.

Mr Henig said: "As a party that is committed to fairness, as soon as we were aware of a potential breach in regulations at North Lodge, council officers were instructed to investigate the matter.

"In turn, Durham County Council alerted the Valuation Office Agency, which provided details of the required changes in respect to property.

"However, while there have been historical breaches of planning and building control regulation, which date back to the time of the former Durham City Council, the current council was unable to take enforcement action due to the amount of time that had elapsed.

"People will want to know how, once again, the Government's senior adviser is avoiding facing any consequences for breaching a set of regulations to which everyone else is expected to adhere.

"It seems that anyone working for the Prime Minister is exempt from the rules that apply to the rest of us.

"I have asked that all options to appeal this decision be considered.

"Furthermore, it is imperative that the Valuation Office Agency be made accountable for this decision in Parliament so that public confidence in the council tax system be maintained."

A Valuation Office Agency spokesperson said: "We can't comment on individual cases. The date to be used for adding a new band to a council tax list, or changing an existing band, is set out in the law.

"The VOA has no discretion to choose a different date.

"The rules apply to all council tax list alterations and all taxpayers in the same way."

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