Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Copy of an email sent to Greenwich Council

by Bertrand Boer-Waugh

Dear council tax department,

I am writing to you whilst beside myself with rage at the council's complete ineptitude and malevolent collection practices for wrongly taking me to court in my absence and wrongly issuing a county court judgment against me for money that I don't actually owe.

I refer to summons number 1*****4 which you had informed me was cancelled. I will outline here the history of this case and the steps that the council is going to take to rectify it.

Case history

  1. I had a summons from you because when I swapped bank accounts you didn't transfer over my direct debit when my bank sent you the details
  2. As soon as I received it, I called you. I paid the overdue amount and updated the direct debit details. The payment reference for this is CEP0******4 - I paid it on 5th November at 10:39am
  3. I was informed that the £95 costs would not be charged and that the remaining payments would go out on my amended direct debit with the first payment happening at the start of November
  4. I was also told that the court summons would be cancelled with immediate effect and that I needed to take no further action
  5. I requested written confirmation that the council had cancelled the summons, but was told that the council doesn't do that (and that it was unnecessary in any case)
  6. I have just received a Council Tax Liability Order Notification and Bailiff Warning Notice instructing me that on 19th November the court sat anyway and decided that the balance of £404 (i.e. the remaining payments and the non-refunded £95) must be paid within 14 days or Bailiffs would call to recover the debt.
This is absolutely disgusting - due to the council's processes not working I now have a County Court Judgment against me and the threat of Bailiffs. The council has also demanded details of my employer so that it can deduct my 'debt' at source. I will give it no such information.

Here is the action that I demand that the council takes to sort this ridiculous mess out:

  1. Remove the county court judgment straight away.
  2. Cancel the order for Bailiffs with immediate effect.
  3. Refund the £95 'court costs' to my council tax account
  4. Write to me confirming that steps 1-3 have been taken.
  5. Collect the outstanding funds from the direct debit that I have set up. That really is a much more straightforward way of collecting council tax for the council and for me. By using this method, the council get its money quickly and cheaply and I do not get my credit record wrecked by unnecessary and invalid CCJs.

I will be calling the department at 10am tomorrow morning to confirm that someone has received this email. I will call again at 4pm for an update on progress against my case. If there has not been satisfactory resolution then you can expect a personal visit on Thursday.

Yours disgustedly,

Bertrand Boer-Waugh



Edwin Hesselthwite said...

Hmmm, Sorry to hear this Bertrand, sorry indeed...

And worst of all, my reaction to this was not a burst of righteous fury, but the all too familiar feeling of "oh, this again". It says a lot when council tax collection resulting in baseless legal action is no longer in the least bit surprising.

I, personally, have been hit by three bouts of this disease in the last 3 years in more than one London borough... The first revolved around £500 of my money they lost inside their banking machine, the most recent unfortunately leading to a CCJ against me that I don't have a strong enough case to get removed from my credit record.

Fundamentally, it comes down to the fact that the Council Tax Collection systems are under-resourced, and don't lose anything when they resort to litigation. The result of this is that they are swinging into litigation as their first action, and that their internal bureaucracies aren't up to the job of monitoring their massive remits. The effect this has on us as citizens is that if we don't watch our Council Tax payments like hawks, we are taking terrible risks with our credit records. Which can have direct and dramatic effects on your quality of life (i.e. mortgage and car payments).

It's obviously, obviously unacceptable... But it is a problem that hits people who move house more than those who are stationary (it's changing circumstances that trigger problems with the Direct Debit payments), and democracy doesn't favour transients. I think blogging on the topic is therefore probably the single best thing you can do to kick those bastards in the balls.

It's just a pity that Greenwich is the same as Brent is the same as Hackney is the same as Lewisham is the same as Swindon is the same as Wolverhampton...

Charles Pooter said...

A few random points:

Local Government in this country is a farce.

Councillors are bound by a repugnant and anti-democratic "code of conduct", introduced by the necrotic Harkonnen-esque John Prescott, which prevents them speaking their mind in any meaningful way.

Councils themselves are funded largely by the national coffers, weighted according to their allegience to the central reich. The collection of a local tax helps keep up the lie of local representation.

The whole scam is just to maintain the illusion that the three main parties still have any local support. Examine local parties and you won't find many commited local "activists" who aren't on a councillor's allowance (which is now at the level of a healthy salary). One of the many ways they are attempting to lock-in state-funding of the "three" main political parties.

Ann O'Dyne said...

ye gods dear Mr B-W, I feel your pain, and I (and also possibly every reader here) can proffer an account (or several, sadly,)similar, excepting different names and different Continents.
kind regards, Grigor Kafka

Quink said...

It's Thursday. Can they still expect the personal visit?

The indifference and contempt with which we are treated by many councils is quite breathtaking. But I will take a deep breath, count to 100 and not bore your readers with my hate-filled invectice.

Good luck Bertrand. You'll need it.

Anonymous said...

but the good news is there is no CCJ, yes, its true, all action has been taken through the MAGISTRATES Court so no County Court Judgement, the Credit Scoring Companies DO NOT know you have been taken to MAGISTRATES Court and no bad credit record.
Just ask for a review of your case, write to the Chief Executive of your particular Council.

Anonymous said...

Ah good old Greenwich council.

I'm currently having similar problems. Basically I was a good boy and got myself off the dole and ever since it's been one cock up after another.

Fast forward to today when i've been informed by the accounts department at work that they will be taking around £900 direct from this month's wages.

This was after issues with payments going missing, not having my single person discount registered and then refusing to backdate it past April 07. I'm beginning to suspect they've forgotten to take off the council tax benefit I was receiving while on the dole too. So maybe a bit of double dipping for good measure.

Idiots the lot of them!

Anonymous said...

i live in Greenwich. last year they had some problem with my ctax which stemmed from the fact that i was paying more than the expected monthly instalment.It was extremely exasperating but as soon as i got a red letter i sorted it out. I happen to work for another local authority so I know that things can go wrong with systems and procedures. However the case will not stand up in court unless at least 2 reminders have been issued and only after the prescribed time limit has lapsed. Even if it isn't your fault to begin with you can save yourself a lot of angst by intervening at the first sign of a problem ie long before a summons is issued.
As for people who suspect that their benefit wasn't paid while they were unemployed- if you are unable to read your entitlement letter the council will provide you with that service.Serve your own interest!!

Anonymous said...

I'm just going through the same experience with Greenwich council. I kept paying the extra amount they were asking for and as a result have overpaid by 500 pounds! They recently sent me a letter out-of-the-blue demanding I attend a magistrate court unless I pay yet more money. Apparently they have three different accounts/departments that don't communicate with eachother. What a farce. Obviously, they haven't learnt from previous cases either. Does anyone know what I should do?