RED-faced town hall chiefs have apologised to a Wigan widower for sending him a council tax demand for a house they demolished last year.
Only a bare patch of ground now marks the spot in Eleanor Street that John Hatton once called home.
He was forced to move out of the end terrace last September, a compulsory purchase order having been issued by Wigan Council because the property was to be knocked down to give more space for the Saddle Relief Road.
The wrecking balls duly did their work in November, by which time 52-year-old bus driver Mr Hatton had settled into a new house in City Road, Kitt Green, and notified the local authority of the address change.
Everything appeared to be fine until a council tax bill came through the letter box last month charging Mr Hatton for Eleanor Street between August 31, 2011 and February 2012.
Generously it only demanded £39.89 because of a sizeable reduction on the Band A property on account of “zero occupancy.”
He went to the cash office at the new Wigan Life Centre where the assistant told him that it must have been a mistake, the property was down as a compulsory purchase and that he should forget about the bill because nothing more would come of it.
But the other day, Mr Hatton received not one but two council tax demands through the post: one rightly asking for £912.44 for his Band A Kitt Green house, the other wanting £456.22 for the now non-existent Eleanor Street house. This time he has been given 50 per cent off for zero occupancy!
Father of four Mr Hatton said: “I suppose you have got to see the funny side but I have spent my own time and money making phone calls and visiting offices in Wigan town centre which is a bit of a bind.
“If anyone knows I haven’t been living in Eleanor Street for the past six months it is Wigan Council because it was them that wanted me to move out so they could demolish it for their new road.
“I hope this isn’t going to drag on.”
A Wigan Council spokesman said: “We are very sorry about this. We have been in touch with Mr Hatton to apologise.
“Mistakes do happen because there are 100,000 bills to prepare but we have acted to put things right.”
The current building of the link road, which aims to relieve traffic congestion, has involved several businesses moving or redeveloping other pieces of land in order to stay put.
Mr Hatton says he was offered the chance to move into the vacant house next door to his in Eleanor Street but he declined.