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    • I had exactly the same issues.   Grossly over estimated bills from January onwards.  Despite what they claim, they are effectively taking an interest free loan from their customer base to keep the company in business.   They can dress it up how they like.  It’s irrelevant if they reconcile the bills the following month because they just over bill again thus keeping a rolling interest free loan.   it took two months of constant badgering to be finally moved to a fixed DD.   Once that was done I didn’t care how much they over-estimated by.   I had raised a query with the ombudsman over the billing fiasco and they readied a complaint should I wish to proceed.   I thought everything was sorted until May/June whereby I was allegedly more in debt then I was expecting to the tune of an extra months DD.   On querying it, it transpired that even though I was on a fixed monthly DD, because the bill was generated less than 5 days before the DD was due to be taken they didn’t take the DD.   They offered £5 compensation by way of apology but wanted to take two months DD in June.  I told them where to get off.   With appalling customer service,  bills that you need a Maths degree to follow, and I do have one and still struggled, inability to follow through on any agreements, constant gross over-estimation, the missed DD was the final straw and I proceeded with complaint to ombudsman.   Prior to getting to that stage I had to quote Symbio’s own complaints procedure to them to get any sort of response.   Their final offer to me was £25 goodwill and to waive an exit fee. The offer was derisory given the time it had taken to get things sorted and the continuing ineptitude.  Also, the whole thing has dragged on so long (5 months) I was already in the final 49 days of my contract and therefore there were no exit fees to pay and therefore nothing to waive.   Anyway, upshot is, ombudsman found in my favour.  Ordered an apology and a goodwill payment. Symbio appealed but were told the decision stood.   This week I received the goodwill payment.   I promptly left an honest and truthful review on trustpilot.   The next morning I received an email from Symbio with an apology.   This was followed an hour later with an email from trustpilot saying Symbio had replied to the review.  On reading the response they have accused me of not following procedure and of cyber bullying.   The company is a complete joke.
    • why not simply tell you supplier they have the wrong meter number you been paying for usage , and ofcourse you can view this online too so its not as if you'll owe anything you might get a nice surprise and find you are owed a refund.
    • The world of ballroom dancing went online to cope with the pandemic restrictions, but what does the future hold? View the full article
    • I would add, many companies have done everything possible to manage and carry on in difficult Covid19 circumstances to supply customers with what they need.   Continually making excuses for delays is not what I'd want from an installer and maybe the £100 deposit is not so important.   Get this deposit back if you can but, more importantly, find a local installer recommended by family or friends to carry out the works.
    • Hello all,   I hope you can assist me, as I am quite lost and confused at the moment.   Two years ago I moved to my actual flat. Throughout this time I have been with EDF first and now EON. When I moved in, my landlord didn't quite know which one was my meter and I picked the one that I believed was mine (now reading you I know I should have done a burner test..). During this time, I have been paying my bills and submitting the numbers that I believed mine, which actually agreed with my consuming patterns.   Today, all the meters appeared with numbers, but the one next to the one that I was using, which appeared with a different flat number. As you might have guessed, none of them had my flat number. I have just made the test and it looks like that one may be mine.   Now, how should I proceed? I have been paying bills is not like I wanted to avoid paying, but clearly there has been an issue. Could you please advice me on how to proceed?   Lastly, in terms of meter serial number, the one that I was using matches my bill and I guess my neighbor bill. The additional doubt I have is, who is paying for my meter and why are they still providing me with gas if no one is paying the one that seems to be my real meter.   Many thanks!    
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    • I came across this discussion recently and just wanted to give my experience of A Shade Greener that may help others regarding their boiler finance agreement.
       
      We had a 10yr  finance contract for a boiler fitted July 2015.
       
      After a summer of discontent with ASG I discovered that if you have paid HALF the agreement or more you can legally return the boiler to them at no cost to yourself. I've just returned mine the feeling is liberating.
       
      It all started mid summer during lockdown when they refused to service our boiler because we didn't have a loft ladder or flooring installed despite the fact AS installed the boiler. and had previosuly serviced it without issue for 4yrs. After consulting with an independent installer I was informed that if this was the case then ASG had breached building regulations,  this was duly reported to Gas Safe to investigate and even then ASG refused to accept blame and repeatedly said it was my problem. Anyway Gas Safe found them in breach of building regs and a compromise was reached.
       
      A month later and ASG attended to service our boiler but in the process left the boiler unusuable as it kept losing pressure not to mention they had damaged the filling loop in the process which they said was my responsibilty not theres and would charge me to repair, so generous of them! Soon after reporting the fault I got a letter stating it was time we arranged a powerflush on our heating system which they make you do after 5 years even though there's nothing in the contract that states this. Coincidence?
       
      After a few heated exchanges with ASG (pardon the pun) I decided to pull the plug and cancel our agreement.
       
      The boiler was removed and replaced by a reputable installer,  and the old boiler was returned to ASG thus ending our contract with them. What's mad is I saved in excess of £1000 in the long run and got a new boiler with a brand new 12yr warranty. 
       
      You only have to look at TrustPilot to get an idea of what this company is like.
       
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    • Dazza a few months ago I discovered a good friend of mine who had ten debts with cards and catalogues which he was slavishly paying off at detriment to his own family quality of life, and I mean hardship, not just absence of second holidays or flat screen TV's.
       
      I wrote to all his creditors asking for supporting documents and not one could provide any material that would allow them to enforce the debt.
       
      As a result he stopped paying and they have been unable to do anything, one even admitted it was unenforceable.
       
      If circumstances have got to the point where you are finding it unmanageable you must ask yourself why you feel the need to pay.  I guarantee you that these companies have built bad debt into their business model and no one over there is losing any sleep over your debt to them!  They will see you as a victim and cash cow and they will be reluctant to discuss final offers, only ways to keep you paying with threats of court action or seizing your assets if you have any.
       
      They are not your friends and you owe them no loyalty or moral duty, that must remain only for yourself and your family.
       
      If it was me I would send them all a CCA request.   I would bet that not one will provide the correct response and you can quite legally stop paying them until such time as they do provide a response.   Even when they do you should check back here as they mostly send dodgy photo copies or generic rubbish that has no connection with your supposed debt.
       
      The money you are paying them should, as far as you are able, be put to a savings account for yourself and as a means of paying of one of these fleecers should they ever manage to get to to the point of a successful court judgement.  After six years they will not be able to start court action and that money will then become yours.
       
      They will of course pursue you for the funds and pass your file around various departments of their business and out to third parties.
       
      Your response is that you should treat it as a hobby.  I have numerous files of correspondence each faithfully organised showing the various letters from different DCA;s , solicitors etc with a mix of threats, inducements and offers.   It is like my stamp collection and I show it to anyone who is interested!
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Locked in car park


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My initial thoughts would be to start with queries re. the list of Standing Suppliers

 

'Where standing supply arrangements exist the Budget Holder should use

SUPC or CPC websites to determine the most appropriate supplier. The

method is set out in Appendix 1'

 

You have established that repairs & maintenance have been necessary with the car park barriers over a considerable period (i.e. it was routine) so if there was no standing supplier for such, why had the Finance Director not made appropriate arrangements prior to this incidence to ensure a supplier was appointed to the lists? i.e. why wasn't he doing his job as in:

 

C Principle - The Director of Finance is responsible for developing appropriate standing supply arrangements on behalf of the College

Any knowledge I possess or advice I proffer is based solely on my experiences in the University of Life. Please make your own assessment of legality, risks & costs before taking any action.

 

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how are you going to tell?

Well for instance where another document is referred to as having relevance but isn't at least quoted or anything that would logically be expected to be in the procurement and disposals policy.

I'm no expert on this sort of thing, but those who've got experience of this sort of thing would presumably have a better idea.

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Good thinking Foolishgirl, thanks.

I've established that the organisation SUPC doesn't have the supply of car park barriers on their list and am waiting for the other one to get back to me.

Universal Security may presumably have been appointed by the finance director to supply and maintain their barriers and if so I guess there should be a contract between them which should be on file. We're told no records exist on the maintenance of the barrier in one place in the court bundle and in another that maintenance records do exist, so that's one avenue to dig further into.

A contact in Plymouth City Council has told us that Universal Security were certainly not on their list of approved car park barrier suppliers.

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Universal Security may presumably have been appointed by the finance director to supply and maintain their barriers and if so I guess there should be a contract between them which should be on file.

 

I don't think I would expect to see a contract unless the supplier was responsible for routine maintenance & the council or the college maintained an account with him so that invoices could be submitted on a regular basis. I can only speak with knowledge of how consultants are appointed to 'approved' lists or panels with authorities, where usually the consultant applies to the authority to join the list & has to provide references etc., sometimes an interview takes place & then the consultant is told whether he has been accepted onto the panel from which he could be chosen by various depts. to carry out work for the authority. Sometimes authorities/organisations advertise for businesses to apply for consideration for the panel. But I would hae thought that there must be a paper trail somewhere of any application made, refused or granted. Maybe another FOI request would hustle it out?

Any knowledge I possess or advice I proffer is based solely on my experiences in the University of Life. Please make your own assessment of legality, risks & costs before taking any action.

 

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Hi Patma,

 

I thnk this is pretty relevant

 

· Under £1,000 – the Budget Holder shall have the

discretion to decide whether or not to obtain quotations, but value for

money must

always be obtained.

· From £1,000 to £10,000 – the Budget Holder shall be

required to obtain at least three quotations or competitive tenders.

· All Capital items must be supported by at least three

quotations or three competitive tenders.

 

The Director of Finance will carry out a review of these arrangements

on a cyclical basis to ensure that the value for money is being

maintained.

 

First thing it tells us is that as the barrer supposedly cost £4k then they should have gone to tender, not unilaterally awarded it to someone cos they were best buddies or didnt have time.

 

 

Second, there should be a record of the other quotes for the audit trail which the finance director is required to review and no doubt external auditors would want to see this as well.

 

I would see if you can request this info, see if the barrier company selected was in fact the cheapest offered.

 

Yorky

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Hi Patma,

 

I thnk this is pretty relevant

 

 

 

First thing it tells us is that as the barrer supposedly cost £4k then they should have gone to tender, not unilaterally awarded it to someone cos they were best buddies or didnt have time.

 

 

Second, there should be a record of the other quotes for the audit trail which the finance director is required to review and no doubt external auditors would want to see this as well.

 

I would see if you can request this info, see if the barrier company selected was in fact the cheapest offered.

 

Yorky

Thanks Yorky, Yes I agree.

The very fact that within the space of a fortnight the barrier was allegedly damaged beyond repair and a replacement installed and invoiced for doesn't suggest much of a tendering process had been entered into, unless of course it was already underway by the time Fred happened along.

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I don't think I would expect to see a contract unless the supplier was responsible for routine maintenance & the council or the college maintained an account with him so that invoices could be submitted on a regular basis. I can only speak with knowledge of how consultants are appointed to 'approved' lists or panels with authorities, where usually the consultant applies to the authority to join the list & has to provide references etc., sometimes an interview takes place & then the consultant is told whether he has been accepted onto the panel from which he could be chosen by various depts. to carry out work for the authority. Sometimes authorities/organisations advertise for businesses to apply for consideration for the panel. But I would hae thought that there must be a paper trail somewhere of any application made, refused or granted. Maybe another FOI request would hustle it out?

Thanks Foolishgirl, it's all very confusing to me and not something I've experience of.

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You said that you were looking for anything that might be missing ...

 

I don't see anything in the procurement rules about possible conflicts of interest regarding having any financial (or other) interests in suppliers or relatives working for the suppliers.

 

Nothing about back-handers either.

 

Of course, these could be covered by other policies...

 

This is a long thread, I can't remember if there was a repair estimate and if so, was it to repair the damage caused in this incident or to do more than that?

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Good point, 2Grumpy.:)

There was a repair price given originally, but no proper estimate. It claimed to be to repair the alleged damage done in the incident, but as we now know it was impossible as the type of barrier we were able to establish it was, didn't have the type of parts described as being in need of replacement, as it was a hydraulic barrier. This was quickly surpassed by a replacement invoice, which gave no details other than the price.

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Patma.

 

I also just picked up on this whist supping my cuppa

 

Holders must comply with the College’s tendering

procedures contained in the College’s code of tendering practise,

 

This to me says that there is a seperate doc dealing with tender practise, I would request a copy of that as well. What you have in this doc is probably just the bare bones as they see it applying to this case, get the whole doc and you may learn something to your advantage.

 

Yorky.

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Section 2.2

 

viii) Annual Review of Economic Life

Financial Reporting Standards require that the economic lives of all

assets are reviewed each year. This is carried out as follows:

 

a) A systematic review of high valued items is carried out each year by

the Financial Controller.

b) The relevant managers in IT, Curriculum and Estates should inform

the Financial Controller if they become aware of a significant change of

useful economic life of any asset e.g. obsolescence or damage.

c) Each year a full audit of assets is carried out using Asset FM

handheld sets. This confirms the physical existence of assets on the

College premises. A reconciliation process is then undertaken to bring

Asset FM in line with the physical check.

d) When an asset falls out of use e.g. loss, damage of obsolescence,

the relevant managers in IT, Curriculum or Estates completes a Capital

Disposal form and passes this t

o the Finance Department. If the item is

disposed of then only the relevant people as laid out in the delegated

authorities may authorise the deposal. The Finance Department then

updates Asset FM to record the effects of the disposal.

 

would have thought this was relevant as didnt they 'dispose of' the old barrier before alerting the police of the incident meaning there was no evidence

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You said that you were looking for anything that might be missing ...

 

I don't see anything in the procurement rules about possible conflicts of interest regarding having any financial (or other) interests in suppliers or relatives working for the suppliers.

 

Nothing about back-handers either.

 

Of course, these could be covered by other policies...

 

They will be covered...probably in other section's of the Financial Regs. Receipt of bank handers would probably be covered by general conduct also.

 

Circa £4k is actually a relatively small amount of money (not to Fred I accept!!) and I doubt that any competitive tendering process took place.

 

Nonetheless, the FR's state that a minimum of 3 quotations must be secured.

 

Therefore, a common brief should have been prepared and a letter of invitation issued to at least 3 contractors. It's possible that 2 contractors may not have supplied a quote but, nonetheless, there should be documentation in writing to this effect.

 

I believe that, for audit purposes, documentation should be retained for a minimum of 6 years from the end of the contract and hence, should still be available.

 

Barriers are something of a specialist area and hence, I'm not surprised if no approved list of contractors exists.

 

Hope this helps to explain the process a little Patma. :)

If you feel I've helped then by all means click my star to the left...a simple "thank you" costs nothing! ;)

 

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Patma.

 

I also just picked up on this whist supping my cuppa

 

 

 

This to me says that there is a seperate doc dealing with tender practise, I would request a copy of that as well. What you have in this doc is probably just the bare bones as they see it applying to this case, get the whole doc and you may learn something to your advantage.

 

Yorky.

That's a very good point, thanks Yorky. I'll do that. I'm getting together all the queries so I can send them all in together.

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Section 2.2

 

viii) Annual Review of Economic Life

Financial Reporting Standards require that the economic lives of all

assets are reviewed each year. This is carried out as follows:

 

a) A systematic review of high valued items is carried out each year by

the Financial Controller.

b) The relevant managers in IT, Curriculum and Estates should inform

the Financial Controller if they become aware of a significant change of

useful economic life of any asset e.g. obsolescence or damage.

c) Each year a full audit of assets is carried out using Asset FM

handheld sets. This confirms the physical existence of assets on the

College premises. A reconciliation process is then undertaken to bring

Asset FM in line with the physical check.

d) When an asset falls out of use e.g. loss, damage of obsolescence,

the relevant managers in IT, Curriculum or Estates completes a Capital

Disposal form and passes this t

o the Finance Department. If the item is

disposed of then only the relevant people as laid out in the delegated

authorities may authorise the deposal. The Finance Department then

updates Asset FM to record the effects of the disposal.

 

would have thought this was relevant as didnt they 'dispose of' the old barrier before alerting the police of the incident meaning there was no evidence

Yes they did Farmlama. Well spotted.I wonder how long they're obliged to keep the records for. They have claimed that no records exist of the old barrier, but that's very hard to believe.

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They will be covered...probably in other section's of the Financial Regs. Receipt of bank handers would probably be covered by general conduct also.

 

Circa £4k is actually a relatively small amount of money (not to Fred I accept!!) and I doubt that any competitive tendering process took place.

 

Nonetheless, the FR's state that a minimum of 3 quotations must be secured.

 

Therefore, a common brief should have been prepared and a letter of invitation issued to at least 3 contractors. It's possible that 2 contractors may not have supplied a quote but, nonetheless, there should be documentation in writing to this effect.

 

I believe that, for audit purposes, documentation should be retained for a minimum of 6 years from the end of the contract and hence, should still be available.

 

Barriers are something of a specialist area and hence, I'm not surprised if no approved list of contractors exists.

 

Hope this helps to explain the process a little Patma. :)

That's very helpful, thanks Welshmam, We have been informed by Lyons Davidson that no documents have been kept with regard to the old barrier and that's after only 3 years, so either someone is being economical with the truth or they're breaking rules.

 

With regard to the tendering process, would you say a fortnight from the incident taking place to the new replacement barrier being installed and invoiced for would be a reasonable turnaround time?

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Incidentally there's been a small development today in that a statemnt signed with a statement of truth has arrived from Lyons Davidson claiming that the original barrier was an RIB and not a FAAC.

This came in response to the disclosure which was ordered at the Directions Hearing having been queried by us as we knew it was wrong, having had the old barrier positively identified as a FAAC, by no less than 3 engineers, including the manufacturer themselves.

The first disclsure was signed by Lyons Davidson, but interestingly this second confirmation is signed by Mr Dexter, Director of Finance for Plymouth College of Art. Could it be I wonder that Lyons Davidson are wary of adding a statement of truth to something they know to be wrong?

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With regard to the tendering process, would you say a fortnight from the incident taking place to the new replacement barrier being installed and invoiced for would be a reasonable turnaround time?

 

The problem here is that my guess is it wasn't a sealed competitive tender process as such but an "open" quotation. Consequently, the return period could have been less than a week.

 

That's very helpful, thanks Welshmam, We have been informed by Lyons Davidson that no documents have been kept with regard to the old barrier and that's after only 3 years, so either someone is being economical with the truth or they're breaking rules.

 

As regards to the retention period of 3 years, I'm sure statute of limitations applies to financial records (inc contract documentation) and that they should be retained for a minimum of 6 years or 12 years if the contract was under seal.

If you feel I've helped then by all means click my star to the left...a simple "thank you" costs nothing! ;)

 

Restons MBNA -v- WelshMam

 

MBNA Cards

 

CitiCard

M&S and More

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Financial Procedures

 

Section 2.2

 

viii) Annual Review of Economic Life

Financial Reporting Standards require that the economic lives of all

assets are reviewed each year. This is carried out as follows:

 

a) A systematic review of high valued items is carried out each year by

the Financial Controller.

b) The relevant managers in IT, Curriculum and Estates should inform

the Financial Controller if they become aware of a significant change of

useful economic life of any asset e.g. obsolescence or damage.

c) Each year a full audit of assets is carried out using Asset FM

handheld sets. This confirms the physical existence of assets on the

College premises. A reconciliation process is then undertaken to bring

Asset FM in line with the physical check.

d) When an asset falls out of use e.g. loss, damage of obsolescence,

the relevant managers in IT, Curriculum or Estates completes a Capital

Disposal form and passes this to the Finance Department. If the item is

disposed of then only the relevant people as laid out in the delegated

authorities may authorise the deposal. The Finance Department then

updates Asset FM to record the effects of the disposal.

Wouldn't the audit show the condition & expected life of their barrier each year?

The asset register might even have the make, model number & description (indicating type) of the barrier.

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Wouldn't the audit show the condition & expected life of their barrier each year?

The asset register might even have the make, model number & description (indicating type) of the barrier.

That would be wonderful it if did. Definitely worth exploring, thanks for that.

So let me get this right. We would request the entry in the Annual Review of Economic Life of the rear car park barrier for the years 2005 and 2006. That could tell us about the state of the old barrier prior to the incident and hopefully some info about the new one.

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That would be wonderful it if did. Definitely worth exploring, thanks for that.

So let me get this right. We would request the entry in the Annual Review of Economic Life of the rear car park barrier for the years 2005 and 2006. That could tell us about the state of the old barrier prior to the incident and hopefully some info about the new one.

 

My understanding of these things is that the asset register & audit are completely separate.

 

The asset register is a list of all their assets, when they were purchased, who from, description, value, plus depreciation & current value.

The audit would be linked to that because they have to reconcile the audit with the register and the current written down value might be updated if the asset was damaged.

 

Assets usually depreciated over fixed timescales depending on the type of asset. Depending on the age of the barrier, it might be fully depreciated (accounting wise) but still on the books with all its information while they still had it. Even now that it has been disposed of, it still might be on their asset register (and show how much scrap value they got, if any).

 

So you might want information re the barrier from their asset register & audit of assets for the year before replacement.

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So you might want information re the barrier from their asset register & audit of assets for the year before replacement.

Brilliant, thankyou for that 2Grumpy. I think I get it now. That will be dealt with on Monday.;)

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Just to pick up on the point raised by 2 Grumpy in post 2071 above, please bear in mind that the written down value (the accounting value) is unlikely to bear much relation to it's actual value at that point in time. It is as 2Grumpy states an accounting value based on the original cost of the equipment and its estimated useful life. It would only be reduced in value more (due to poor condition) if it was worth materially less than the value it was held at in the Colleges books. Materially here refers to the accounting concept of "materiality" - put very simplistically, providing the value that it is held at (combined with other problems found during the accounts) don't mean that the accounts are rendered pretty much meaningless then the auditors are unlikely to ask for an adjustment to be made to the barriers value. In all honesty, for an amount of just a few thousand pounds, it may have been totally disregarded as not material by the auditors.

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Incidentally there's been a small development today in that a statemnt signed with a statement of truth has arrived from Lyons Davidson claiming that the original barrier was an RIB and not a FAAC.

This came in response to the disclosure which was ordered at the Directions Hearing having been queried by us as we knew it was wrong, having had the old barrier positively identified as a FAAC, by no less than 3 engineers, including the manufacturer themselves.

The first disclsure was signed by Lyons Davidson, but interestingly this second confirmation is signed by Mr Dexter, Director of Finance for Plymouth College of Art. Could it be I wonder that Lyons Davidson are wary of adding a statement of truth to something they know to be wrong?

 

 

This is fast becoming just plain embarrassing.

 

If it's big, bright orange and has been planted in the ground just outside your office for the better part of the last four years you would expect any right minded person to maybe walk over to the existing barrier and just have a little look at the manufacturers logo prior to putting their signature to a legal document which could have very serious ramifications when used in Court.

 

George however obviously knows best and chose not to bother checking before signing such a statement.

 

Sadly for George he must have been led by the Lyons Davidson interpretation of Claire Hughes FOI, the one where the Paralegal bizarrely transposed the makes and this leaves yet another piece of evidence supplied by the claimant easily disprovable and open to an accusation of false disclosure.

 

Georges credibility as a witness is certainly already wide open to contest and such a simple matter as this will not help his case one jot. Why he should sign a statement of truth to the effect that the current barrier is a BFT when it quite clearly has RIB stamped on it is far beyond my comprehension, the fact that the college themselves in a FOI response contradict him and we contradict him further with expert witness and the manufacturers witness statement and that this was known to him at the time of making this statement leaves me concerned for the mans sanity.

 

I also sniff a subtle shifting of culpability, I suggest that somebody is anticipating a battle royale after this failed action in respect of the colleges liability to the rather hefty legal fees run up by Lyons Davidson.

 

Plymouth college of art sols Vs. Lyons Davidon with each party blaming the other for the farce of a case they have brought against Fred in a fight over the legal fees could provide for a rather interesting sideshow.

 

 

Oh we notice that yet again the claimant does not actually comply with the order since they fail to disclose the grounds on which the barrier make is stated.:(

You have the right to food money.

If you don't mind a little investigation, humiliation, and if you cross your fingers rehabilitation..............

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Another development today is that they've grudgingly submitted a token defence to the counterclaim......through gritted teeth obviously.;)

 

Tantamount to nothing more than a 'template defence' they strangely (yet again) deny being served the paperwork but (yet again) I feel Freds proof of postage certificates will prove otherwise. Having denied being served the paperwork they then admit being in receipt of the paperwork and still claim they cannot respond because...... they don't have all the paperwork.:???: Hope that makes more sense to you than it does to us.

 

That's three orders in a row they have failed to address fully or indeed arguably at all, though they are quicker with the excuses than Rodger the Dodger and his book of dodges ever was.

 

Just hope the Judge is as fed up with their shortcomings and evasiveness as say........ the police are.:rolleyes:

You have the right to food money.

If you don't mind a little investigation, humiliation, and if you cross your fingers rehabilitation..............

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