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Council tax summons target most vulnerable - ex-casino manager

By helen williams, Hoyland Reporter Sunday 30th June 2013
Former casino manager Peter Bottrill

A former casino manager says costs for summoning people to court for non-payment of council tax are an attack on the most vulnerable people in the borough.

 

Peter Bottrill, 66, of Corporation Street, Barnsley, got £20 behind on his council tax in August last year but then received a summons with court costs of £52.

 

He claims this is not a realistic reflection of court costs and is raising the matter with the Trades Union Congress (TUC). He has also complained to the Audit Commission, the local government ombudsman and MP Dan Jarvis - but is still awaiting a result.

 

Barnsley Council has sent Mr Bottrill a breakdown of how costs are reached and says the matter is now closed. But Mr Bottrill, who has suffered a stroke and has diabetes, is not satisfied.

 

He said: "These charges are a way of getting at the most vulnerable. I understand 5,000 summons to court have gone out - that makes £260,000 to be collected in costs.

 

"I also question the description of 'costs' when the figure they've reached is based on estimates. For example, they can only estimate how many summons they'll need to issue."

 

He added: "People receiving these summons don't usually question it - they just accept that its costs from the court - when it's just a way of making money."

 

Mr Bottrill is among hundreds of people in Barnsley who have been summoned for non payment of council tax.

 

Last week, 200 people affected waited in a queue outside Barnsley Magistrates' Court, where protesters chanted and waved placards.

CommentsClick here to add a comment...
Posted by Mike Hallett I Sun 30th Jun 2013 at 4:17pm

And it doesn't stop there. Barnsley council took us to court last year after they failed to take the first payment on time from our bank account. We also got court fees added to our account. Then BMBC wrote and told us what we then needed to pay through the year as an amended standing order which we dutifully did. Until we then got a letter saying we were paying too little ( remember BMBC told US what we needed to pay) and subsequently sent a bailiff who turned up at our house at allegedly 7.30am (we were in but no one in the house heard either door) and put a card through (that was found at 5pm)demanding the outstanding balance that had already been paid to BMBC. And are demanding bailiffs fees for visiting our house. When the bailiffs were phoned they refused to speak to my wife about the account because according to them and BMBC she is not on the account even though it is a joint account and all correspondence from BMBC comes in joint names. How that works I don't know!!

We have spoken to the OFT regarding it and have been told that bailiffs cannot attend outside of sociable hours I.e before 8am and should have spoken to BMBC first to see whether the payment had in fact been made. The whole thing from start to finish is a farce and really does cause undue distress. And the worst thing is that when you speak to BMBC they are so unhelpful. I asked for a statement and a copy of all correspondence from BMBC and they actually wrote back refusing to supply the information even after I threatened to sue them and rosendales baliffs for harassment.

BMBC you should be named and shamed!!!

Posted by P Elliot I Sun 30th Jun 2013 at 5:20pm
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Posted by Got Nowt I Sun 30th Jun 2013 at 6:00pm

Hope you have success challenging these court costs through the various channels.

Something similar is being challenged through the civil courts but is proving difficult because of the Magistrates' court's obstruction in the procedure. Magistrates are refusing to state a case for an appeal to the High Court so application for Judicial Review has been another necessary procedure in hopefully getting this in front of a High Court Judge.

Posted by albert I Sun 30th Jun 2013 at 6:03pm

bmbc could not run a bath

Posted by Chumsky I Sun 30th Jun 2013 at 6:10pm
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Posted by Aware I Sun 30th Jun 2013 at 11:23pm

For a start they aren't real court cases so the court costs are also false!!! The council print the summons (which is in itself fraud) knowing full well that almost everyone will be scared to death and hand over money that don't have to having been threatened with a criminal conviction.

A court summons has to have these 3 things or it isn't real:

A wet signature

A Crown seal

A case number.

The council hire a room in the court, illegally print a summons and when you attend what you think is a real case the council offer you the chance to remedy the situation before going into court. This is when they get you to sign a liability order.. if you sign it you are then liable for the council tax and all cost relating to its recovery. You don't HAVE to sign it and it isn't a criminal matter, its a civil matter. If bailiffs get involved, they aren't court bailiffs, they're debt collector bailiffs.. companies run for profit (just like councils surprise, surprise). You only have to pay the bailiffs if you contract with them (that's what the liability order is, a contract) so ignore them and in time they will stop harassing you.

There is a difference between civil and criminal. The sooner we understand what this is the sooner we can make a stand against the extortion rackets we are subjected too.

Posted by G. Juse I Mon 1st Jul 2013 at 8:59am

Council Tax Summons earn town halls £millions each year

Many millions of pounds may have been overcharged by Councils in the pursuit of Council Tax recovery since its introduction in 1992.

It has long been speculated that Councils profit from taking householders to court for being late with Council Tax payments.

Local Authorities are charged a fraction of the amount passed on to residents in costs. Each Liability Order applied for costs councils £3 according to the Magistrates’ Courts fee schedule. Struggling householders are then charged many multiples of this, for example, one London Borough Council imposes £125 costs for making late payments for Council Tax, but for Business rates, this increases to £220 for an identical process.

Further irregularities are highlighted where costs – predetermined by councils – are imposed in advance of the hearing. According to law, an award of costs are at the discretion of Magistrates' courts on hearing the complaint.

Another Council in the South of England reveals in a document reviewing court costs that where previously it was necessary to seek approval from the Court to ensure costs being levied were reasonable, this was no longer required and "confirmed that it is for the Council to decide on an appropriate level".

One authority in the North East admits court costs are determined in-house. A Freedom of Information request uncovered a letter sent to the Magistrates' court advising that the "Council has taken the decision to increase the court costs which it charges to tax payers for the non payment of Council Tax".

The same council revealed that it aimed to cover the entire budget for running its Council Tax department from court penalties, and with £0.88 million costs raised it had not made a bad attempt. It claimed its annual budget for all activity associated with recovery of Council Tax amounted to around £1.13 million, this compared with a figure of £1.04 million as the cost for council tax administration including staff costs, contact centre costs, enforcement, other running costs and central recharges.

The law doesn't allow for profits, only reasonable cost incurred for the administration involved, but councils increase costs as a “deterrent” element or to coerce payment. The same council documented that "the extra cost is seen as a way of encouraging prompt payment", and as a bonus would raise additional income of £38k a year. There is nothing in legislation to support an increase in costs on this basis.

According to statistics obtained from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), court costs for Council Tax and Business rates in England and Wales raised more than £179 million in 2010-11. Based on these figures and indexing inflation – since 1992 (the introduction of Council Tax) the best part of £3.5 billion may have been overcharged by councils in a bid to finance Council Tax administration.

Posted by T. Ruth I Mon 1st Jul 2013 at 9:03am

I bet all the deleted comments are a little bit to truthful and embarrassing for the government, therefore a bit too risky for local rags to be associated with.

Posted by T. Ruth I Mon 1st Jul 2013 at 9:08am

Hope you have success challenging these court costs through the various channels.

Something similar is being challenged through the civil courts but is proving difficult because of the Magistrates' court's obstruction in the procedure. Magistrates are refusing to state a case for an appeal to the High Court so application for Judicial Review has been another necessary procedure in hopefully getting this in front of a High Court Judge.

All details here:

http://www.legalbeagles.info/forums/showthread.php?36444-Council-Tax-Liability-Order-Applications-Court-Costs-–-Test-Case

Posted by Anon I Mon 1st Jul 2013 at 3:13pm

Completely agree with those who are commenting...BUT...just thought this was hilarious...

A Former CASINO manager accusing someone else of praying on the vulnerable. LMFAO.

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Posted by anon I Mon 21st Apr 2014 at 8:08pm

I was 3 days late . 70 pound costs.. my father has alzheimers , even bmbc kept losing all information. summonsed him to court. what a joke they are. luckily got my dads sorted. please if anybody knows any1 with alzheimers they r entitled to full exemption by law. b.m.b.c don't tell you that

Posted by Wendy I Wed 23rd Apr 2014 at 9:35am

Its disgusting.... i have asked BMBC to take council tax out at beginning of each month, they agreed for it to be taken on 2nd of every month, n they take it on 28th ive been in n showed them the letter they sent me, n they said we cant do anything here, you have to phone em up or we can post it for you!

Why r they open?? just to be told that... amazes me!

Posted by Jim Carpenter I Thu 24th Apr 2014 at 7:38am

What's your bloody problem? Just pay on time.

Posted by interested I Sat 3rd May 2014 at 1:26pm

Whether Mr Bottrill is an ex casino manager or not it is completely RIGHT to challenge these costs. We dont know Mr Bottrills financial circumstances and just because he formerly worked does not mean he is rolling in cash. I do happen to know Mr Bottrill personally and admire his total commitment to the most socially and economically disadvantaged people in the community. Go Peter - best of luck and hope you are keeping well x

Posted by Kelly Ingram I Wed 7th May 2014 at 11:28pm

It would be amazing to win these tickets. Me and my cousin are huge fans of both busted and Mcfly and and would be incredible to watch them perform in the OMFG VIP zone.

Posted by gh I Mon 2nd Jun 2014 at 5:13pm

few yr ago my dad missed his monthly payment through been in hostpital they told him he lost the right to pay monthly and he had to pay in full been a bit frightened by this he payed up unfortunatly he later passed away and there was a refund to come to estate the solicitor waited as long as he could and ended up closing estate with a note stating there was a outstanding rebate it took barnsley council 13weeks to make that refund to the solicitor

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