Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A National Scandal

Following a burst of activity on this, I have a few irons in a few fires, and some persons in high places are looking at my various complaints.  I have also sent out a few strategic FOI requests that will undoubtedly prove useful in the future.  The slow nature of this process means that this cannot be a daily blog, as there is little to report between events.  However, just to give you an idea of how large this issue is, I thought I would do a little round-up of some of todays observances.  It's not just South Gloucestershire Council who are behaving like a third world kleptocracy.

This phenomenon is well documented in other local authorities.  But there is another more subtle fraud at play that does not fill as many column inches as rogue bailiffs like Rundle & Co.  The councils themselves are engaged in a grubby little fraud of their own.

Each time a summons is generated with reference to council tax arrears, councils charge on average £85 for the Liability Order, not least the criminal enterprise known as South Gloucestershire Council.  One of my FOI requests is to establish exactly how much that set of crooks are extorting for the last financial year, but helpfully, just to give you an idea of the numbers at play, we have this.

Two hundred people are summoned to court EVERY DAY on average across Manchester for council tax arrears, with with a whopping 50,000 summons being issued last year alone at a sum of £82 a time. That's right folks. Manchester raises £4.1 MILLION a year (and rising) from Liability Orders, which they expect us to believe is a "reasonable cost" of sending a CSV file to the courts each week.  There is a law that states these charges must only reflect "reasonable costs", but every council in the land is telling porkies about the actual cost of running a couple of queries on their tax collection databases.

Add this up across every council and you are looking at some pretty serious numbers. They are criminalising the poorest and profiteering out of those least able to pay.  In my view this is nothing short of fraud and councils should now be subject to the Proceeds of Crime Act, whereby the sums illegally confiscated should be returned to the people from whom it was stolen.

But note the tone of the piece I linked to.  The Uncle Tom local media, who dare not criticize their council masters in fear of losing the advertising revenue, describe citizens as "tax dodgers", when even the Citizens Advice Bureau is predicting a 20% increase in referrals to bailiffs by councils due to the welfare changes.  And this is what passes for local journalism.  So bad has this situation got that in Peterborough, it has triggered huge queues at the city’s magistrates’ court.

Courts in Norfolk granted 21,903 liability orders to the county’s councils for non-payment of council tax in 2012/13. Those orders mean people have two weeks to pay up or bailiffs could be sent out to recoup the money on behalf of the councils, including the Liability Order surcharge.

What should be a means of covering basic expenses, councils are using as a very large revenue stream, chiefly by criminalising ordinary people.  And while local media prefers to see it in terms of "tax dodgers" and the national media pays no attention at all to it, the best we get from "Citizens Advice" is a banale quote...  
"in the space of just two months, we had seen a surge in people seeking advice on how to deal with bailiffs and council tax arrears. Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Bailiffs will see their profits rise at the expense of hard-pressed households."
Yeah, no shit Sherlock; So why aren't you guys publicly condemning the state sanctioned fraud and council corruption?  Cat got your tongue?  And the supposed taxpayers advocacy group is equally weak.  "Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Manchester can’t afford for so much Council Tax to be left unpaid".  Why sure it can Matthew. It can sack the legions of worthless, lazy and corrupt parasites on its payroll and leave the money in our hands, but Matthew Sinclair and the TPA make their living being a rent-a-quote for lazy local media hacks and thus do not rock the boat.

Similarly you will find bland statements from our elected officials like this "Deputy Leader Cllr Gledhill said “Every penny owed to the Council that is not collected means higher charges for Thurrock residents who do pay on time.", meanwhile councils are sitting on huge cash reserves of anywhere up to £90m and are still advertising for worthless overpaid non-jobbers.  Austerity?  You're doing it wrong!

This is a national scandal not befitting a first world liberal democracy.  Nationwide, councils are estimated to levy in the order of £230 million a year in summons and liability order charges and, if that rate had been sustained for the twenty years the regulations have been in force, the cumulative overcharge could run to £4 billion.  That queues of people are forming outside magistrates courts over councils excessive use of the courts, turning courts into revenue streams over houses of justice, is frankly breathtaking and should be a front page story of national importance were our pathetic media on the ball.  The one and only worthwhile bit of journalism I have encountered is this.
It's thought potentially, 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.
It continues...
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.
As we have seen, with previous enquiries on this issue, councils are very guarded in what information they release, they have no intention of inspecting or investigating their bailiffs and they resist transparency over liability order profiteering.  The police will also drag their heels in the hope that you will give up.  It is at this point, "tax dodging" becomes both a moral and civic duty.  Anyone for a Starbucks?  Give us a call on my Vodafone.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Plod Close Ranks.

Readers of this blog will know that I have, in light of the new Department for Communities and Local Government guidelines, contacted the police again, with regard to securing a conviction against Rundles for their attempted fraud.  Avon & Somerset's Legal Services Department is trying to conflate this case with the matter of my removing Rundle's clamp at a later date, even though I got my complaint in first.

The police initially refused to investigate it as they maintained it is a civil matter, but the DCLG quite clearly states that it is not - and so did I.  Fraud has never been a civil matter and this is the most clear cut case of fraud I have ever seen. Had Avon & Somerset investigated properly at the time of my complaint, it would then have demonstrated the exact legal authority by which I removed the clamp and I would not be facing a bogus criminal damage charge.  Instead they summarily dismissed my complaint without reviewing any of the evidence.  Following their refusal to investigate I was fobbed off with the advice that I should report it via the Action Fraud website, which is essentially a black hole which issues you a crime number and that's the last you hear of it.

I let the matter rest as I decided my efforts should go into defending the criminal damage charge, however, I have had a change of heart, especially now that I have a written admission by Rundles that I was not present at the time of their alleged visits.  If criminal law applies to me then it must also apply to Rundles.  They have attempted a fraud, I have have proof, and an admission from Rundles.  What more do they want?  I removed their clamp on the basis that it was an excessive levy by legal definition, and that it was also an abandoned levy.  The legality of the fees is almost immaterial to the clamping issue.

Since there is evidently a system wide directive to treat bailiff fraud as a civil matter, there is grounds for suing the police, and should they not make a proper job of it this time around, I shall do exactly that.  It is a gross dereliction of duty for the police not to protect citizens from predatory bailiffs acting outside the law.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Trinity of Evil - The Unholy Alliance

There is much talk in the media about corporate greed.  But let us not forget that some of the biggest and greediest corporates around are our local authorities.  Many councils now raise more in fines and fees than they do from council tax.  What they cannot extort though petty fines and self-financing regulation (such as planning), they raise through intimidation, extortion and fraud.  South Gloucestershire Council is no exception.

Like most large criminal enterprises with conspicuous levels of corruption, there can be no getting away with it without at least some co-operation from the police.   Insomuch as Rundle & Co. Bailiffs are seasoned extortionists and fraudsters, they have only been able to get away with it with the tacit approval of the council and a blind eye from the police.

As soon as I became aware of how the Rundles fraud worked I contacted the police, to which I was told that they would not intervene on account of bailiff action being a "civil matter".  You don't need to have read the recent Department of Communities and Local Government guidelines to know that attempting to charge for work not done is fraud.  In 2007, in an answer to the House of Lords, Baroness Scotland (for the Government) explained that charging for phantom attendances was a criminal offence under the Fraud Act.  Furthermore, there are at least a half dozen LGO rulings stating that bailiffs cannot levy for fees alone, and that levies must be proportionate to the value of the debt.  In no way is the levy of my Audi A4 proportionate to the the sum of £192, even if the fees were legitimate.  If Avon and Somerset Police had any interest in justice whatsoever, it would not have taken their legal department very long at all to establish whether or not the actions of Rundles were lawful.  But since there is evidently a directive to treat such issues as a "civil matter", they have routinely neglected their obligation to investigate.

I raised this issue with out local Police & Crime Commissioner, who merely replied with a bland press office statement detailing how I could use the "Action Fraud" website, but adding that it was most likely a "civil matter".  I let this drop since arguing with a public official is about as likely to succeed as baptising a cat, and I am playing the long game.  Dorothy Hooper et al of SGC think I have dropped the matter, and for the time being I am happy to let them think that.  However, Eric Pickles just gave me the best present I could ever hope for which prompted the following letter...
Dear Mrs Mountstevens,

You may recall a little while ago I wrote to you about the conduct of Rundles Bailiffs acting on behalf of South Gloucestershire Council. The police wrongly maintained that it was a civil matter and you repeated that view to me. However, the Department for Communities and Local Government has published guidelines on this just recently, in which it states...

5.7 Public concern has been raised about the practice of some bailiffs undertaking ‘phantom visits’ – charging fees for action when no action was actually taken.

5.8 The Government consider that any fraudulent practices should be reported to the police as a criminal offence under the Fraud Act and that Local Authorities should terminate any contract with companies whose activities are proved fraudulent.


I have a statement from Rundles (to the police) confirming that I was not present on both visits to my house, both of which they attempted to charge for, along with spurious "attendance fees" on the first actual visit, which is not permitted by law under The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992. See revised fee schedules.

In light of this, will you now instruct your officers to take bailiff fraud seriously and investigate my complaint?

Yours sincerely,

Peter North.

It elicited an unusually prompt reply:

Dear Mr North,

Thank you for your email below.

As the contents of your email relates to an operational policing matter, under the independent direction and control of the Chief Constable, I have passed the details to Avon and Somerset Police and they will follow up your enquiry and reply to you directly. Please expect a response within 20 business days.

I am confident that the Avon and Somerset Police will provide a full response and in my oversight role I have asked to be updated accordingly. However, if you are dissatisfied then please contact me again via this email address. 

I hope that this action is helpful to you.

Yours sincerely
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner
Valley Road, Portishead, Bristol BS20 8JJ
01275 816377
Now it would be churlish of me to suggest she has merely passed the buck, but at least it wasn't the knee-jerk rebuttal I expected.  Just to make sure, I reported the fraud once more to the local Chief Constable and my local community plod overlord.  I have since received a phone call from one of their minions assuring me I shall have a reply within ten days.  Interesting that they assume to cogitate over this without even interviewing me for the details, hence why I hold no great hopes of accomplishment this time around.  Howsoever, I am not by any means going to be fobbed off.  There is always Police Complaints, and failing that, I have other more creative means of holding them to account, which I shall detail later.

What we are seeing here is the classic "arrogance of office", which is as evident in the commissioners office as it is in the run of the mill street plod.  Once I had reported Rundles to the police, they then launched a counter complaint against me for cutting off their clamp with an angle grinder.  Unsurprisingly, while my complaint was neglected, the police did not waste any time in knocking at my door.  So as to catch me unawares, they knocked at some ungodly hour in the morning, as is their typical tactic - so I am most likely to be in the least capable state to defend myself.  An arrogant plod and his female stooge proceeded to lecture me, without allowing me to speak, while threatening to ransack my house in search of the clamp.  Interesting that it is a "civil matter" when I have a complaint, but they are happy to violate my home on behalf of Rundle & Co.

Now, as any fool knows, you don't debate with the monkey, you go to the organ grinder.   I was threatened with arrest simply for attempting to assert my side of the story, and if it was a civil matter as they maintain, then they had no right reclaim the clamp.  But the common plod thinks he is the whole of the law and above it.  Had I been in a fit state I would have taken his badge number, but he is too far down the food chain and I will get to him eventually.

As if this were not grotesque enough in itself, some weeks after the plod reclaimed the clamp and after more harassment from the bailiffs for outstanding unlawful fees, Rundles took to abuse of police process.  Not content with committing fraud and trespass on property, Rundles have taken to wasting police time. I was driving up to see the parents that weekend and noticed I was being followed by a plod in an unmarked BMW 5 series. We get near Tamworth and he is joined by a BMW X5 4x4 and I suddenly realise they are escorting me!

A few moments later, the "follow me" lights pop up and we pull into a service station. I knew I hadn't been speeding so I had a feeling it would be some or other harassment. The plod then explained that my car had been reported stolen. I spent ten minutes waiting in the squad car while they established that the car was mine. I was compelled to explain that the car wasn't bought on hire purchase and there were no loans secured against it and the thing was 100% mine. They made no mention of who actually reported it as stolen, but explained that an ANPR alert tag had been placed on my car and they picked me up at a checkpoint. Having made it quite clear (as if it wasn't obvious) that I was no car thief, they disappeared to the X5 to try and clear it up. At this point, while alone, I scrolled down on the squad cars on-board computer. To my complete lack of surprise I read the words "Rundle and Co." at the bottom of the report.

Since the rather amiable plod made no mention of this, I made no mention of it either and we then had a convivial chat about the respective merits of the BMW 5 series, and the usefulness of average speed cameras. The other plod then confirmed that there must be "some sort of civil dispute which was an NFA" - No Further Action. The ANPR alert was taken off my car and the plod wished me a safe journey, but declined to reveal who had made the report.

I found the whole experience highly amusing. I must have gotten under their skin if they are resorting to this. But it does raise a serious point. Here we have Rundles making hoax calls to the police and claiming ownership of other peoples property. If a citizen made a hoax call of this nature, it would be an arrestable, criminal offence. I see no reason why Rundles should not be held to the same laws as the rest of us.  However, when I made my complaint to the council and to the police, one PC Bird shrugged it off as "standard procedure" to investigate all such reports.  Too bad the same doesn't apply to fraud.

To add insult to injury, my complaint to the council was handed to Rundles by the council instead of addressing it directly, who proceeded to claim pound breach as they had taken possession of my vehicle at time of clamping.  Aside from the fact that clamping amounts to an abandoned levy, and the sketchy legality of that "levy" for fees alone, the police seemed totally oblivious and unconcerned by the fact they had been used in a vindictive campaign of harassment against a private citizen by state sanctioned fraudsters.  The final insult being that Rundles directed me to the industry watchdog CIVEA, which is a watchdog made up of the respective bailiff companies, of which James Cohen, the bailiff concerned, is on the board of directors.

I could talk at length about the legal and moral issues surrounding all this, but that is beside the point.  Here we have a police force who ignore the complaints of ordinary citizens, but will leap to the defence of private contractors working for the council, with the full collaboration of the council who casually refute any complaint, having done no background research or even consulting their own code of practice.

It's breathtaking isn't it?  And a dangerous precedent.  We have gluttonous local government which is not in any way accountable for the money it wastes, who then uses hired goons who operate outside of the law, who are free to investigate their own malpractice on behalf of the councils, while councils casually relinquish themselves of any responsibility for wrong-doing, while the police turn a blind eye and lend support to fraudsters, bullies and liars. What kind of message does that send?

Civil society depends on the assumption that the police are neutral and fair-minded, but when it comes to the collection of revenue, they are simply uniformed goons, no different to the bailiffs themselves.  If citizens cannot rely on transparency from their councils or protection from the police, then it is only a matter of time before the public have to take the law into their own hands.  Just recently there was a report of a policeman being stabbed in the neck while acting in support of bailiffs.  While the local media neglected to report the finer details, I am left wondering if the attacker had some justification?  Knowing that the police will wilfully refuse to investigate further fraud by Rundles, and the council recovery officers are complicit in it, I have no alternative but to defend myself by any means necessary against the next incursion.  I have no wish for things to turn ugly, but in such circumstances, I fail to see any alternative.  If the police want to know why there is a collapse in confidence in them, they might be well advised to do some detailed introspection.

What do they know?

There is a website known as "what do they know?" in relation to Freedom of Information requests, whereby we plebs get to question what our masters know, though it seems we are not permitted to see what WE collectively know.  Today I was directed to this page, which suggests one Arnold Layne has had a similar experience to my own.  I felt compelled to add a comment some hours ago, but it has since been deleted, on a Sunday at 5pm no less!

Hi Pete,

I have reviewed an annotation which you had made on a request which had been reported to us by another user.  The annotation was on the 'South Gloucestershire Council's Lying Policy' (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/south_gloucestershire_councils_l) and I have removed it in line with our annotations moderation policy (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/requesting#moderation).

If you would like to discuss this decision then please do get in touch.

Kind Regards,

Alistair - WhatDoTheyKnow.com volunteer
Not only is their moderation policy link dead, I do have to wonder, what sort of depraved sociopath actually reported my annotation.  Someone senior at SGC I expect.  

For those of you who missed it, here's what I wrote... 

Arnold Layne's experiences are entirely in line with my own from South Gloucestershire Council. Not only did they refuse to investigate or acknowledge the fraud by Rundles, they dismissed my complaint and passed it directly to bailiffs, which in my view was a breach of process and confidentiality.

Recovery Officer Dorothy Hooper repeatedly upheld the fraudulent fees claimed by Rundles and denied any fraud had taken place (without even investigating), but later, after I cut off a wheel clamp belonging to Rundles, Rundles say in their police statement that I was not present at the time of their first two visits (which is true) - and thus is not chargeable by law. This is known as a "phantom visit" and is a criminal offence under section 2 of the Fraud Act.

Councils are supposed to terminate their contracts with fraudsters and refer them to the police, but each time they conspired to uphold the fraud, preferring to disregard the articles of law I furnished them with.

I sent copies of the LGO rulings in such matters to the council, whereby bailiffs cannot charge attendance fees if no levy has been made. They summarily dismissed my complaint, even when Rundles had clamped my car AFTER the debt (minus bailiff fees) was paid directly to the council. Rundles then continued to attempt levies for fees alone, at one point reporting my car to the police as stolen, which is an abuse of police process. South Gloucestershire Council simply shrugged off this complaint, as did the police, who claim that bailiff fraud is a civil matter.

However, the DCLG guidance states:

5.7 Public concern has been raised about the practice of some bailiffs undertaking ‘phantom visits’ – charging fees for action when no action was actually taken.

5.8 The Government consider that any fraudulent practices should be reported to the police as a criminal offence under the Fraud Act and that Local Authorities should terminate any contract with companies whose activities are proved fraudulent.

However, South Gloucestershire Council recovery officers believe they are the whole of the law and that their word is final, which makes them complicit in what appears to be a mass campaign of fraud by Rundle & Co. South Gloucestershire Council deny any profit sharing agreement with Rundles, so I am inclined to believe this is simply gross negligence rather than corruption, until I see evidence to the contrary.

Consequently, I am seeking the sacking of Dorothy Hooper and her supervisor for gross misconduct and I will be suing the council for damages.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

My case against South Gloucestershire Council

My case against South Gloucestershire Council (SGC)
On the 19th July 2012, North Avon Magistrates Court issued a liability order against me in respect of unpaid council tax and costs amounting to £1178.65.  - The actual amount of council tax owed.

 • On 19/7/2012 I received a letter by post from Rundles issuing notice of intended proceedings. There is no basis in law for this to be chargeable.

• On the 1/11/12, a ginger haired man called at my door with a hastily scribbled proforma demanding that I pay £1371.15. This was the first contact I had with Rundles in person.

As you can see there is an instant mark up of £192.50.

The law states that for the first visit they may charge a maximum of £24.50 and £18.00  for the second as detailed in the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.

As is my right, I refused payment and I queried the council as to the excessive fees.  They replied...

Dear Mr North,

I write regarding your email claiming the bailiffs have charged you in excess of £190.00 for the first visit fee.  As you have been advised before (see my email dated 11/01/13) the bailiffs charged you as detailed below:

1st Visit fee £24.50 on 22nd October 2012
2nd visit fee £18.00 on 25th October 2012
Attendance with intention to remove goods £150.00 on 1st November 2012.

When the bailiff attended your property on the 1st November you still owed £425.44 plus costs which included the van fees which were added correctly to the balance already owed. You made a payment direct to the Council on that day of £250.00 leaving a balance due of £175.44 plus bailiff costs.

If you had contacted the bailiff and made an arrangement to pay when they first contacted, you would not have had to pay van fees. The Council does not estimate any fraudulent fees have been made by the bailiff companies.
The Liability Order was granted at the Magistrate Court on 19th July 2012, you made no attempt to make any payments until the case was passed to Rundle & Company. Again, I would suggest you make full payment to the bailiff to clear the balance of £280.50

Yours sincerely,

Mrs D A Hooper
Senior Recovery Officer
So here we have an assertion that two visits had been made prior to the actual first visit had been made, which was news to me.  I was not at home, thus these visits were "phantom visits".  In 2007, in an answer to the House of Lords, Baroness Scotland (for the Government) explained that charging for phantom attendances was a criminal offence under the Fraud Act. In a similar incident, West Yorkshire police press office also confirmed that not only is it a criminal offence under Section 2 of the Fraud Act, they also state that “anyone involved in this practice could also face charges of conspiracy to commit fraud”. Just recently the Department for Communities and Local Government has published guidelines on this just recently, in which it states...
5.7      Public concern has been raised about the practice of some bailiffs undertaking ‘phantom visits’ – charging fees for action when no action was actually taken.

5.8      The Government consider that any fraudulent practices should be reported to the police as a criminal offence under the Fraud Act and that Local Authorities should terminate any contract with companies whose activities are proved fraudulent.

So of course this become my word against theirs.  Or does it?  The story continues...

On the 16/11/12, Two different male bailiffs arrived, blocking my drive with a van. I locked up the house and waited in the car but they were blocking my exit until my landlord moved his van and I could manoeuvre out. The bailiffs then attempted to ram me as I was leaving to prevent my exit. I remained parked near my house until they left.  It was a stand-off for about 20 minutes until they left. It is on this date, they claim to have levied my vehicle. They issued no documentation, such as a possession order, to that effect. They left another hastily scribbled proforma demanding that I pay £1371.15. After which I paid the remaining of the original balance of the liability order to the council via their website.

On 30/11/12, Rundles, anonymously (and without knocking), left yet another hastily scribbled proforma demanding that I pay only £250, acknowledging the debt was paid.

On 11/12/12 I awoke mid-morning to discover my vehicle had been clamped, with a similar note posted through my letterbox, this time demanding the sum of £310. I hired an angle grinder to cut through the padlock so as not to damage the clamp. I then emailed the bailiff company stating that they may recover their clamp provided they demonstrate proof of ownership and reimbursed the costs of removal. They did not attend.  They had attempted a levy, not on the council tax, but on their fees alone.

None of the above paragraph is strictly relevant but it brought about criminal prosecution against me for the removal of the clamp, which is still ongoing.  However, in their signed statement to the police, Jo Spring of Rundle and Co. freely admits that I was not at home on the dates of the first two visits.  Thus the first two visits are not by any means chargeable, and thus their levy is invalid. 

The dates mentioned in her statement are consistent with those claimed by South Gloucestershire Council but in her statement, she acknowledges there was no reply on both occasions.  These are non-chargeable visits, which invalidates the "attendance fees" as the 1/11/12 was the first actual chargeable visit.  This is fraud plain and simple.   

I replied to Mrs Hooper of the SGC...
Dear Mrs Hooper,

Rundles first visit charged well in excess of the fees permissible by law - to the tune of over £190 . The FIRST letter they left is proof of this - and I am happy to provide you with a scanned copy. No visits were made prior to this. Attending the property in my absence is not chargeable. In 2007, in answer to a specific question about this practice in the Lords, Baroness Scotland for the Government explained that charging for phantom attendances was a criminal offence under the Fraud Act. West Yorkshire police press office have also confirmed that not only is it a criminal offence under Section 2 of the Fraud Act for bailiffs to say they had visited an address (when they had merely pushed a letter through the door), but that “anyone involved in this practice could also face charges of conspiracy to commit fraud”.

They are also not permitted to charge fees in advance. Attempts to pursue these fees is charging for work not done - and is defined as Advance Fee Fraud. There has been an LGO ruling on this. You will note that Paragraph 62 of Complaint numbers 95A01890 and 95A04826 against London Borough of Ealing the Local Government Ombudsman disallowed a van fee because no goods had been levied. These fees were also disallowed in the Local Government Ombudsman's report of 29 November 2012. See also Page 5 of 11 of the Local Government Ombudsman report of 29 November 2012. In short, bailiffs may only charge levy and van fees if a levy is made.

No goods have been levied, they have no possession order and their attempts to charge are unlawful. Your willful refusal to correct this makes you personally complicit in this fraud. As you are the senior officer in this matter, it could well be viewed as corruption - since you are deliberately seeking to mislead. At the very least, that makes you an liar or just plain incompetent, at worst, it makes you complicit in a multi-million pound fraud.

Yours sincerely,

Peter North.

She replies...
Dear Mr North,

The fees the bailiff has charged are all legal. You will also see on Schedule 5 that for attendance with a vehicle with a view to remove goods, the bailiff can charge “reasonable costs and fees incurred” which they have done.

On 1st November 2012 the bailiff attended your property with the intention of removing goods, it was not until this same day did you make a payment of £250.00 direct to the Council, the charges were already incurred and are still payable.

Every time the bailiff called you made a payment and only paid when we got the bailiff involved.

The bailiffs will not pay you for “your” expenses, as you broke the law in removing the clamp in the first place, which I understand the police have since advised that you have committed a criminal offence in doing so.

As I said before, please contact the bailiffs to make payment and for any further discussions regarding this account.

Yours sincerely

Dorothy Hooper
Senior Recovery Officer

According to the law, as the visit on 1st November 2012 was the first chargeable visit, they had no right to make a levy or charge more than £24.50, and the attempted levy (clamping) of my car was made after the balance had been cleared, even though they knew this full well.  These thugs were simply trying to extort unlawful fees.

Several email exchanges have occurred since this, and SGC have repeatedly refused to address the issue and not only that, they have washed their hands of the complaint and forwarded my complaint against the council to the bailiff company instead which is a breach of confidence in my view.  My complaint was regarding the misconduct of the council in not calling the bailiffs off.  My complaint against Rundle and Co. will be dealt with separately in court.

I have given SGC every opportunity to address this issue yet they have wilfully ignored Local Government Ombudsman rulings, and the law, and refused to investigate properly while maintaining that I should pay unlawful fees.  It is for this reason I am taking SGC to court and will not let the matter rest.