Less than 5 per cent of Middlesbrough's poll tax collected

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Middlesbrough collected only 4.5 per cent of its poll tax budget in the first three months of the current financial year, compared with the English average of 24 per cent, the Department of the Environment revealed yesterday, writes Anthony Bevins.

Another 54 of England's 366 local authorities collected less than 20 per cent of their budget in the quarter to June.

But John Redwood, Minister of State for Local Government, preferred to accentuate an 'impressive improvement on previous years' collection performances' in a statement on the results of his department's survey.

'Good collection rates result in lower bills for charge-payers,' he said.