ROSSENDALE council treasurers have reached out into Europe in their pursuit of unpaid council tax.

And they even went beyond the grave in a bid to rake in the cash, councillors were told.

Although they were often successful in getting tax debtors to pay up what they owed, they have had to admit defeat in many cases.

Now councillors have agreed to write off a massive £195,000 in unpaid tax -- 708 cases in total, with an average debt of £275.

They accepted the debts were irrecoverable after hearing of attempts by officers to recover the cash.

A report to the Corporate Policy Committee says 508 cases totalling debts of nearly £129,000 related to chargepayers who no longer lived at the debt address and whose whereabouts were unknown.

Some sixty cases related to chargepayers who had left the country, some now living in Ireland, Scotland or overseas.

Officers found their new addresses and in some cases were granted court orders against them, demand notices were ignored.

In 17 cases the chargepayers had died and inquiry officers found there was insufficient cash in their estates to meet council tax demands.

In another 60, with debts totalling £38,000, the debtors had been declared bankrupt.