Council bid to curb ‘gangster’ bailiffs

This Is Wiltshire: Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney)

SWINDON Council is taking steps to tighten control on bailiffs acting on its behalf after some were branded as “gangsters” – with an un-named senior Conservative councillor even forced to pay off a collector from his own pocket on a resident’s doorstep.

The Adver reported in September that a handful of debt collection companies were making a fortune despite their tactics having been criticised for unfairly penalising poor and vulnerable people.

Debt collectors recovered £170,000 in car parking fees alone between 2011 and 2012, of which they retained £100,000. But the companies have also recouped more than £1m in council tax every year since 2009, and retained an undisclosed share of the proceeds.

After the issue was raised by the Labour group at Thursday’s full council meeting, the authority commissioned a report to outline the circumstances in which bailiffs may be used and the measures that are being taken to ensure they act appropriately and lawfully.

Councillor Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney), who highlighted the incident with the Tory councillor, said bailiffs were just not following the rules, adding that the use of debt collectors would rise when benefits reforms came into force in April next year, meaning almost everyone would pay at least 20 per of their council tax bill.

He said: “A long time ago I looked tenants in the eye and said if you don’t pay your rent somebody has to pay more rent, and the same applies to council tax, so I have no sympathy with the person who refuses.

“But what’s coming down the track to us is so dramatically unfair that it renders that unfairness almost irrelevant.

“People with no money aren’t going to be paying the 10 per cent, but the 20 per cent. And then you know they won’t be paying it in huge numbers.

“We will issue liability orders like confetti and then we’ll send bailiffs in and the bailiffs will act like gangsters.”

Coun Stan Pajak (Lib Dem, Eastcott) told the case of a resident whose £75 parking fine spiralled to a £175 debt due to bailiffs fees, adding that Swindon Council would not initially help, claiming the issue was with the bailiffs.

He said: “The truth is we as an authority should be using bailiffs as a last resort and only using good bailiffs.

“And hopefully this report will ensure that this does happen and we can actually believe we’re using bailiffs as a last resort in the best way possibly.”

The meeting also heard of other poor experiences with debt collectors, including that of a mother-of-three who was brow-beaten by a bailiff at 8.10am in front of neighbours, children and the school bus.

Coun Mark Edwards, the cabinet member for finance, said that in 2011/12 there were 5,200 instances of council debt referred to bailiffs, but the number of complaints was just 29.

He said: “I completely get what’s being said here but I do believe that with the processes and procedures we do have in the council that it takes a lot to get to the bailiffs.

“This is not done lightly. There’s a huge amount of work done behind the scenes to make sure it doesn’t get to that stage.”

Comments (8)

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10:45am Tue 13 Nov 12

Synergie says...

There's something ironic about SBC seeking to curb "gangsters" lol
There's something ironic about SBC seeking to curb "gangsters" lol Synergie
  • Score: 0

10:52am Tue 13 Nov 12

The Real Librarian says...

QUOTE
Coun Stan Pajak (Lib Dem, Eastcott) told the case of a resident whose £75 parking fine spiralled to a £175 debt due to bailiffs fees,
UNQUOTE

No.

Here is the sequence of events.

1. Resident fails to park correctly in accordance with the regulations.

2. Resident gets parking ticket due to their own fault.

3.Resident fails to pay the ticket.

4.Costs spiral due to resident failing to pay the ticket despite ample opportunities to do so.

Conclusion.

Resident entirely responsible for their own fate.
QUOTE Coun Stan Pajak (Lib Dem, Eastcott) told the case of a resident whose £75 parking fine spiralled to a £175 debt due to bailiffs fees, UNQUOTE No. Here is the sequence of events. 1. Resident fails to park correctly in accordance with the regulations. 2. Resident gets parking ticket due to their own fault. 3.Resident fails to pay the ticket. 4.Costs spiral due to resident failing to pay the ticket despite ample opportunities to do so. Conclusion. Resident entirely responsible for their own fate. The Real Librarian
  • Score: 0

12:28pm Tue 13 Nov 12

RichardR1 says...

Perhaps the resident was unfairly ticketed, as has been shown to happen regularly. The council rarely over turn these tickets.
Perhaps the resident was unfairly ticketed, as has been shown to happen regularly. The council rarely over turn these tickets. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

3:22pm Tue 13 Nov 12

The Real Librarian says...

RichardR1 says...
12:28pm Tue 13 Nov 12

Perhaps the resident was unfairly ticketed, as has been shown to happen regularly. The council rarely over turn these tickets.


Perhaps it was you!

You use the word "rarely!"

They overturned one in every six tickets in 2011

Is that rare in your world?


http://www.swindonad
vertiser.co.uk/news/
10011236.One_in_six_
parking_tickets_issu
ed_by_Swindon_Counci
l_is_revoked/?ref=rs
s
RichardR1 says... 12:28pm Tue 13 Nov 12 Perhaps the resident was unfairly ticketed, as has been shown to happen regularly. The council rarely over turn these tickets. Perhaps it was you! You use the word "rarely!" They overturned one in every six tickets in 2011 Is that rare in your world? http://www.swindonad vertiser.co.uk/news/ 10011236.One_in_six_ parking_tickets_issu ed_by_Swindon_Counci l_is_revoked/?ref=rs s The Real Librarian
  • Score: 0

6:46pm Tue 13 Nov 12

RichardR1 says...

Perhaps it shows how incompetent those who issue tickets are.
Perhaps it shows how incompetent those who issue tickets are. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

8:26pm Tue 13 Nov 12

timt1964 says...

we should all refuse to pay our council tax,we get bugger all for it except daily stories about the council wasting our money.bailiffs have little power despite what the urban myths say.nobody will ever be allowed in my house without my permission,dont care who they are.
we should all refuse to pay our council tax,we get bugger all for it except daily stories about the council wasting our money.bailiffs have little power despite what the urban myths say.nobody will ever be allowed in my house without my permission,dont care who they are. timt1964
  • Score: 0

9:26am Wed 14 Nov 12

RichardR1 says...

You cannot hide behind anonymity now on the Internet whilst committing libel.

As for Portsmouth as I have said no idea, I have not and have no intention of moving there.
You cannot hide behind anonymity now on the Internet whilst committing libel. As for Portsmouth as I have said no idea, I have not and have no intention of moving there. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

12:55am Fri 16 Nov 12

Pompey-Bound says...

RichardR1 wrote:
You cannot hide behind anonymity now on the Internet whilst committing libel.

As for Portsmouth as I have said no idea, I have not and have no intention of moving there.
What libel Robert? Show me!
[quote][p][bold]RichardR1[/bold] wrote: You cannot hide behind anonymity now on the Internet whilst committing libel. As for Portsmouth as I have said no idea, I have not and have no intention of moving there.[/p][/quote]What libel Robert? Show me! Pompey-Bound
  • Score: 0

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