A SOLDIER with 17 years' service in the army says his treatment by Barnsley Council has pushed him into quitting the country with his wife and children.

Kevin Clark admits he was already feeling somewhat disenchanted with several aspects of life in the UK as he came to the end of his army career.

But he says the council's attitude towards the council tax bill for his empty home in Thurnscoe was the final straw.

At the end of September, Kevin, his wife, Dawn, and their three teenage children will to move to Canada.

Kevin, 39, a bomb disposal officer, owns a four- bedroomed detached home in Springwood Grove, Thurnscoe. He and his family live on an army base near Salisbury.

But although the Thurnscoe house is unoccupied and empty, Barnsley Council says Kevin has to pay a £909 council tax bill - with no discount.

What has angered him is the council has told him that if he lived in the house on his own, as a single occupant he would have been eligible for a 25 per cent reduction in that bill.

Even more annoying is the fact that an official has admitted to Kevin that if he had been a criminal serving a prison sentence he would have qualified for a 50 per cent reduction in his bill.

"I'm more than happy to pay my dues - I would have happily paid a proportion of the council tax," he said. "But to be better off if I was a criminal, now that is just so wrong on so many different levels."

"I like to think I am a reasonable person, I pay council tax on my army home and if I would have been happy to pay a proportion of the council tax on my Thurnscoe home even though no-one is living there and no-one is using any council services."

A spokesman for Barnsley Council said they would like to speak to Mr Clarke about the reasons why he is not entitled to a council tax discount.

"While we always appreciate the hard work and bravery of service personnel, those serving in the armed forces have never been entitled to a discount because of their employment status," the spokesman said. 

"Mr Clarke’s recollection of previous discounts from the council were due to the classification of his house, the rules around which changed in April 2013."