Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Civic Coercion

Just occasionally the Oldham Echo remembers that it's supposed to be in the journalism business & serves up a story which it normally avoids.
Saturday's edition featured a report by North Liverpool Citizens Advice Bureau that bailiffs acting on behalf of Liverpool City Council over unpaid debts (mainly council tax) have resorted to "unlawful tactics" (http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2008/09/27/jail-threats-used-to-collect-council-debt-100252-21911350/ ).
According to the Echo:
"Cases of collectors making verbal threats to imprison residents if debts are not paid and charging for visits that did not take place are included in the report [by the CAB].
"The report found that out of the 50 individual cases examined, exactly half of the people affected were elderly and disabled vulnerable people."
The council's response smacks more of an alarmed awareness of bad PR than an acknowledgement that it f***ed-up badly; it protests its "disappointment" that it didn't see the CAB report prior to publication.
The instances cited in the report serve as case studies in exploitation of legal ignorance & naked harrassment. In just one of the cases, the Echo quotes the CAB as reporting that "an elderly couple were chased earlier this year for a £295 council tax debt from 1993 that had already been written off at court."
So there we have it. Not only does Liverpool City Council make the city look a laughing stock over its cack-handed, bumbling & corrupt handling of its culture year, it also employs assorted thugs & goons to intimidate vulnerable people for no reason whatsoever. Proud of yourself, Councillor Bradley?

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