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Rossendale Council and bailiffs get slapped wrists from LGO


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It is a promising start with a disapointing outcome.

 

Thursday, 6 January 2011

 

Rossendale bailiffs caught operating underhand tactics

 

A constituent who found himself on hard times and defaulted on his Council Tax for the first time became the victim of Council incompetence and underhand practices by bailiffs.

 

A missed payment of £100 became a default notice of some £1100 after unregistered visits to his property where levied on his account.

 

After 18 months campaigning with Rossendale Citizens Advice, help from his MP, The Local Government Ombudsman found in favour. Bailiffs were found guilty of malpractice by; failing to provide an inventory list after levying a charge, levying that charge against a motor vehicle outside that was not the victims - one just picked at random even after the victim the bailiffs it was not his car but someone else's; failing to record information (such as time and details) about the visits to the victims property to seek asset recovery.

 

Rossendale Council were identified by the LGO as failing to administer bailiffs correctly and they were advised by the LGO to under take a review of the way they deal with people.

 

Quite simply Rossendale Council have neglected a duty of care and have allowed bailiffs under their authority to engage in sharp practices. How more victims are there out there who have been neglected and dare I say, had money fraudulently added to their costs.

 

Citizens Advice Rossendale have informed me that this practice is more common that this one of case. That it is a [problem] to just to turn up and pick a car, any car, and levy a charge on it. They are concerned about the numbers of people who haven't had the strength of mind to find this injustice and despite having fallen on hard times, had to find hundreds of pounds to pay off bogus charges.

 

Having worked with the victim on this case I find it absolutely shocking that bailiffs can turn up and use underhand and devious means to escalate a debt form a hundred pounds to thousands of pounds.

 

The victim has highlighted the the language used. That people may be being misled in to thinking the Council's debts has been sold on to the bailiffs or another company. Kester Dean of Citizens Advice Rossendale has stated this practice is illegal. That Council Tax debt is always the Council's debt and bailiffs are always just agents of the Council.

 

The disappointing aspect of all this despite the LGO finding against Rossendale Council and the bailiffs concerned is that lack of any compensation for the harassment and time spent by the victim correcting this injustice. It is almost a cost free risk to bailiffs to Council's to pursue debts aggressively and in a fraudulent way.

 

Local Government Ombudsman Complaint Reference '09 003 990/JEM'

Contact information; To order reports not on the website call: 020 7217 4683

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Its not risk free for the bailiffs, or council, what is not told is the behind-the-scenes action taken by the council against the bailiff company.

 

It usually means the bailiff contract is terminated, otherwise if a local paper hears of a council contractor is cheating the poor of money by charging bogus fees, the council will get a bad rap if they fail to take action.

Professional property investor and conveyancer

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"Having worked with the victim on this case I find it absolutely shocking that bailiffs can turn up and use underhand and devious means to escalate a debt form a hundred pounds to thousands of pounds."

 

To complete the writers education I hope someone has invited him/her to read through the threads here on Cag ???

 

Very good find outlawla..could be useful to caggers....well done

 

WD

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Guess what!

 

I ordered the report on this investigation from the LGO, and surprise surprise this is what I received:

 

Dear Outlawla

 

Thank you for your publications order.

 

Unfortunately, I am unable to send you anything on the complaint you request as this was locally settled and there is no published report on this investigation.

 

Many thanks

 

Teresa Davey

Communications Assistant | DL: 020 7217 4683 |

10th Floor | MillbankTower | Millbank | London | SW1P 4QP |

www.lgo.org.uk |

 

Local Government Ombudsman

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Guess what!

 

I ordered the report on this investigation from the LGO, and surprise surprise this is what I received:

 

Surprise, surprise...I have got a copy of the report!!!

 

I did know of this complaint long ago and in fact, I send a copy of the STICKY from Andrew Hobley; Senior Investigator at the LGO ( a copy of which can be found in the STICKY section).

 

I am just trying to see how to copy the report and thankfully, it is a good result indeed and very lengthly....

 

What is also very important is that it confirms that a bailiff cannot charge two visit fees etc when enforcing more than one Liability Order at the same time !!!

 

Will post back shortly.

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Surprise, surprise...I have got a copy of the report!!!

 

Andrew Hobley; Senior Investigator at the LGO

 

I am privvy to knowledge that Andrew Hobley handles this type of complaint several hundred times a month, and he now even uses boilerplates when he writes reports and letters to complaints and councils.

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