Wednesday 17 June 2015

Same old story - lies and denial


Ever since my run in with Rundles bailiffs I've had a steady drip of correspondence from people whose lives have been disrupted and derailed by the breathtaking malpractice of bailiffs and the police. While my attempts to get justice have failed, it has become a matter of duty to get it into the pubic record that there is a whole strata of criminal activity which is not only ignored, but enabled by the police.

To that end, I've just had the pleasure of speaking with a gentleman (Mr W.) who had our friends Rundles bailiffs call at his home over the matter of a parking ticket. They were told that the ticket was incurred by his wife who was not in at the time. Unsurprisingly they then became aggressive and began shouting, to which he then replied he would call the police and slammed the door. From inside the house the bailiffs were then heard shouting in the front garden. Moments later the two white males returned to their van. There are witnesses to that effect.

After some time, Mr W. began to clear out items from a disused car in the driveway, used for storage, while noticing the bailiffs were still waiting in their car. This is a typical behaviour from Rundles as I have experienced when said bailiffs attempted to prevent me leaving my own property. Waiting at a property is a known Rundles intimidation tactic.

Said bailiffs witnessed Mr W. removing various items from his car, including an ornamental sword with cord for wall hanging (purchased by his nine year old), placing said items in the house by the side door.

It as at this point this point Rundles had called the police and made a false allegation that he was "waving it around like a madman and stabbing it into the earth" in the back garden. It has been since confirmed by a police officer that from that vantage it would be impossible to see into the back garden.

Some time later, Mr W then heard shouting, assuming the bailiffs had called for back up. As there is a large hedge outside, it was difficult to ascertain where the disturbances were coming from. He then left the house by the side door to investigate to be confronted with a squad of armed officers pointing assault rifles and a taser at him.

It was explained to the police that a sword had been removed from the the car and taken into the house. Mr W. was subsequently arrested and detained by a local officer and taken to Southmead police station for the day. The officer at no time engaged with the bailiffs and later admitted there was no correspondence with the bailiffs- nor was their vehicle approached. There was no possible way the officer could have identified the ethnicity of the bailiffs and has admitted as much.

Mr W. answering charges at North Avon Magistrates of being in possession of an offensive weapon, pleaded not guilty - where it then went on to the Crown Court, and was subsequently dismissed. Bizarrely, it was then sent back to the magistrates for a public order offence - when it should have been thrown out.

When it came to court, the first bailiff, the leader of the two white bailiffs gave evidence, followed by what was expected to be the the younger of the two white males witnessed at the scene. Except of course, in walks a large black male, a man known very well to me - a Mr James Cohen, board member of CIVEA and MD of Rundles - hitherto not witnessed at the scene.

This is consistent with Rundles tactics, in that Cohen's name appears on most paperwork regardless of who is actually executing a liability order or summons visit. It then follows that he would be the man requested to give evidence in court - and will present evidence whether he was present or not. That is very much the Rundles modus operandi.

After several adjournments (as is typical), Mr W. went to Patchway Police station to enquire as to why statements were not taken from the bailiffs. This was met with hostility and defensiveness from the desk officer who categorically refused to instigate an investigation into the false reporting of a crime. The officer herself has since been reprimanded for being rude and abrupt, having neglected to properly carry out her duties in ascertaining whether a crime has been committed.

This is entirely consistent with my own experiences on both occasions when police were quick off the mark to act on the behalf of the bailiffs, but will persistently stonewall the victim. The last thing Avon and Somerset Police ever want to do is investigate crime. Eventually the officer in question was reported to the Police Complaints Commission for failing to carry out her duty.

There is more than a passing ring of familiarity to this, having spoken with other victims of Rundles in the past. The police cannot be compelled to lift so much as a finger without persistent and resolute attempts by the victims to get justice. Each time, the experience is hostility, defensiveness and denial. It should also be noted this is the same experience noted by the Rotherham report where routinely abused young girls were ignored by the police. Mr W. was finally contacted by a sergeant who then assured him statements would be taken.

There is more to this account yet to come. Having spoken with Mr W. we have elected to develop this post into a full account and so the sequence of events will be completed in the coming days. Check back for updates.

As we've seen, the police failed to take witness statements, failed to investigate, and failed to bring charges of perjury or perverting the course of justice. There is a pattern of behaviour from Rundles that seeks to exploit the disarray in the courts, the ineptitude of the police and the vulnerability of their victims. Why the police are not yet wise to it escapes me.

Adding insult to injury, the gentleman in question's wife had actually paid the parking fine previously, and had a receipt for it, but South Gloucestershire council had lost the money somewhere in the system. There's a surprise!

We see all the same culprits, all the same denials, all the same inaction and once again, a good man is dragged through the courts while these criminals and pathological liars walk free.

In any case, an armed response unit storming the property is grossly irresponsible on the part of Avon and Somerset Police, especially when it's far from the first time Rundles have made bogus crime reports to the police, not least reporting my own car as stolen leading to a pursuit up the M42. If this is how operations are now conducted then something is very wrong indeed.

Mr W. is far too genuine to be making any of this up and his experience with the police, the council and the bailiffs chimes very much with my own experience. Inaction and denial. This cannot possibly be coincidence.

As it happens, I may be up for a little more fun myself this year. While I tried my best to highlight this gross injustice, I've elected to pay my council tax on demand ever since, leaving me free to fight other battles, but this year, having been made redundant, I'm having to pay what I can, when I can. I've missed a couple of payments by a couple of days but have, up to press, met each monthly payment. This has prompted South Gloucestershire Council to demand the full annual sum up front having added the standard £85 fees which were recently ruled unlawful.

This brings into question their bogus claims of only using bailiffs as a last resort, and similarly shows that their summons process is still run by computer without any human intervention, (prompting the council to set bailiffs on me for the sum of nine pence last year). 

Since Rundles passed on taking my business last time and the equally crooked Bristow & Sutor were caught red handed, it will be interesting which gang of thieves South Gloucestershire Council set on me this time. I'll be waiting.

Thursday 15 January 2015

I couldn't possibly comment

The Terrorism Act 2006 contains the following passage:
Encouragement of terrorism (section 1): Prohibits the publishing of "a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences." Indirect encouragement statements include every statement which glorifies the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future or generally) of such acts or offences; and is a statement from which those members of the public could reasonably be expected to infer that what is being glorified is being glorified as conduct that should be emulated by them in existing circumstances."[3] In England and Wales, a person guilty of this offence is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or to a fine, or to both, or, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, a person guilty of this offence is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years, or to a fine, or to both, or, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.
It is for this reason I am unable to offer comment on this.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Spine chilling stupidity

There is nothing more terrifying than stupidity with a bit of authority. The above picture is doing the rounds on Twitter which is seemingly an extract from the Rotherham report. The hyperventilation has it that this is the smoking gun proof of multiculturalism in action. I'm not buying it. What you have there is your typical low grade public sector supervisory stupidity and cowardice. These second rate councils do not attract high flyers and thinkers.

Combine natural back office public sector stupidity with the mill town mentality of the North and you get a particular brand of authoritarian jobsworthery where initiative and free thought is frowned upon and actively discouraged. My short time at Calderdale Council informs this view, where ex-field "workers", who are too expensive to sack, are stuffed into places of administrative authority where it doesn't matter too much that they spend more time in Benidorm or slipping away for doctors appointments with weeks off sick in between.

We see the product of Welfarism on our streets every day but the lowest of the low, the worst of the parasitical vermin, can always be found in council offices on foot deodorizers, stressing even the most robust office chair and sucking up precious oxygen that could be put to better use elsewhere.

We can weave complex and sinister conspiracies into the Rotherham scandal if we like, but it's always going to be better explained by the breathtaking dull-wittedness of our local councils - and those "dedicated, hard working" public servants therein.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Rotherham: rinse and repeat

I said I wasn't going to get sucked into the Rotherham scandal debate but it is relevant to this blog. The reason for my lack of enthusiasm is that all we see is the same white noise and extruded verbal material from our media, which is nothing that couldn't have been written about any shithole Northern town, every year, for the last twenty years. It still goes on, the plod know who's responsible, and the establishment goes out of its way to marginalise anyone who complains. Sound familiar?

This latest scandal largely has nothing at all to do with Islam and, like the epidemic of bailiff fraud, has everything to do with a bloated, anti-democratic system of local government which has a culture of denial where complaints are concerned. My experience with South Gloucestershire Council taught me everything I need to know. It's the same dynamic behind the NHS Staffordshire massacres.

Hugh Muir is the closest I've seen to sense on this, writing about a similar scandal in Rochdale, while carefully avoiding the cultural aspects. Apart from that, all we'll get is a stream of pontification from London hacks who couldn't find Rotherham on a map and have panic attacks if they go North of Watford. You'll get an adequate but superficial analysis from Spiked Online, but The Harrogate Agenda has it right, and coincidentally, The Harrogate Agenda is what we need to stop this from happening. Anything else is is just the same bland waffle we have heard many times before, where we are assured that "lessons will be learned".

As to South Gloucestershire, there exists the same arrogance of office. Sooner or later all of their skeletons will start falling out of the closet, and readers of this blog won't be in the least bit surprised if Amanda Deeks, Sue Mountstevens and her merry band of thuggish enforcers are also peadophile enablers and rape deniers.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Their contempt for us is absolute

Here follows a paraphrased extract from a BBC report...
Conservative MP Chris Skidmore has claimed that an extra charge to collect green waste amounts to a council tax rise which should have triggered a referendum. "The £36 charge in South Gloucestershire was above a 2% threshold which should have led to a vote among residents". A council spokesman said residents were not obliged to pay the charge. "Fortnightly green waste collection is an optional service for residents, rather than a tax, and those who do not wish to pay are not obliged to do so," a spokesman said. "There are a number of free alternatives for residents who do not wish to use the opt-in service, including home composting and disposal via our Sort-IT centres."
It's funny, because the tagline of this blog "pay up, we're above the law" refers to South Gloucestershire Council's stonewalling attitude toward bailiff fee fraud, but it seems this is their attitude in all things. The law states that a referendum must be held for any council tax rises over 2%, so instead of obeying the law, they now subvert it by making basic services charagble, when those basic servces are the very reason local authorities exist.

Our councils started in life as public sanitation authorities, not least to prevent the spread of disease, and to control rats and other vermin. Now the vermin are in charge. They now view this most basic function of government as an optional extra.

Further to this, we see the arrogance of office in an unnamed council official, telling us in earnest that we are free to dispose of waste at our own expense - or obey their own eco-agenda. Rather than the grossly overpaid council chief executive, Amanda Deeks, having the courage to put her name on the record, she hides behind a "council spokesman", whom we are not allowed to know the identity of.

Your masters have spoken. They will only allow democratic expression when it suits them, and as to the law... well that's just for us plebs. This of course raises three questions:

1) If councils are not spending our money on what we pay them for, what are they spending it on?

2) If we now have to pay fees for the services for which we pay council tax, what is council tax for - and why should we pay it?

3) If we had anything resembling local democracy, why would our MP have to raise a matter of local bin collection in our national parliament?

Methinks councils have forgotten what they are for.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Councillor Adam Monk: Mouthpiece of the machine

Over the last three years I have written to South Gloucestershire councillors a number of times regarding their grand larceny on liability order costs.  Only Ukip Councillor Ben Walker took any interest in it, and coincidentally I have finally received a reply from our Labour Councillor.  You know, those famous protectors of the vulnerable.  Here's what he had to say...

Mr North

Thank you for your email, I am Adam one of Councillors representing Filton and I sit in the committee making decisions on Council Tax Support and therefore the best to reply to your question. The issue of Local Council Tax Relief is a very difficult one to deal with.  Ian Roger & I are very aware of the real impact this is having on those requiring support.

With regards to the costs & fees incurred by the Authority collecting Council Tax, those fees are passed on.  For example in the year 2013/2014  7,495 cases  were charged £55 each in costs. Of these only 4,436 actually went to court to obtain a liability order and those cases incurred a further £30 in costs. The authority has to pay HM Court Service per summons issued.

Surcharges to use a credit card are imposed by the bank at 1.8%.   The surcharges for last year were £8,561.87.  The Council doesn’t make a single penny from these surcharges.

The Council charges each customer that goes into arrears up to £85 in summons & liability order costs. These costs are calculated by the finance department, a breakdown is available to the court if they request to see it, to cover such things as;
Staff hours to process those accounts that are in arrears and what action to take once the order has been granted by the Magistrates court.
IT/Computer processing time.
Postage and post room costs, to print & pack notices.
Magistrates fee.

The council has a duty to collect the maximum through annual council tax. Those people that fail to pay in accordance with their demand do have recovery action taken against them to protect the interest of the council.  The court costs charged are by comparison with other local authorities not the highest, for example Bristol City charges £103 on the issue of a summons.

With regards to the increase of people visiting Citizens Advice I am sure there will have been a significant surge in demand as the relief available on Council Tax has been reduced. The reason for this is simple Central Government have imposed a year on year reduction on the support grant provided to authorities and this means that  the most needy in society will be effected. South Glos supported the 1st years reduction in funding by utilising funds from reserves but that is not a sustainable position. 
The councillor workshop for the new scheme for next year will start in July as there will be a legal requirement to consult with the public and the scheme is required to be voted upon in December.  I will ask that you directly contacted during the consultation period.  

I appreciate that you will not have received the answer that you are looking for but I can reassure you that all Labour Councillors are fighting to protect & support the most vulnerable in society.

Cllr Adam Monk
Filton Ward.
01454 864056
07801 999699
You won't be surprised by my reply...

Dear Mr Monk,

A few points...
A system to administer council tax would have to exist with or without defaulters or people in arrears.  Speaking as an enterprise scale database developer, I know full well that creating and running a check query for those in arrears is a very simple operation that requires no great programming talent.  Moreover, it is reasonable to assume any such process would be written into the software as a primary requirement, which would have economies of scale over the database life-cycle. In fact, such a system would run quite comfortably off a standard SQL database server which can be procured from HP for less than £10k. I run bigger databases than South Gloucestershire Council.

So even factoring in public sector waste, the whole system could be built (even in-house) on one years liability order takings alone, which (even using your revised figures) still amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Meanwhile, the actual court costs amount to £3 per order. Further to this, you state that there are staff hours involved in assessing each case. This is a lie. Given that enforcement was directed against me for the matter of nine pence, this tells me that absolutely zero human interaction is invested in the process whatsoever.

Essentially you have sought to fob me off with the litany of boilerplate excuses and lies I have read many times before, which I could have got as a press release from any council in the land. Councillors should be cutting through this dishonest mantra rather than repeating it. If not, what exactly are you for? We vote for representation, not press officers. Your inaction makes you a defender of state larceny, rather than a representative of the people. You have forgotten who you serve and are acting as a spokesman for the machine. And by the way, that Bristol Council is greedier than South Gloucestershire is not a mitigating factor.

As for your reassurance that "all Labour Councillors are fighting to protect & support the most vulnerable in society", I have great reason to doubt your sincerity since you have clearly no interest in pressing the council on their (unlawful) use of "costs" as a revenue stream. The system is piling masses of costs on those who can least afford it, and our trigger happy council is pushing thousands of people through the courts and into the hands of profiteering thugs like Rundle & Co, while your own recovery officers turn a blind eye to unlawful behaviour. If you were at all sincere you would be ripping into our local kleptocracy, but your inaction is tacit consent to it.

I take the view that the measure of a good councillor is one who will defend the public against authority, not be the voice of it. You have clearly decided which side you are on. And it is not ours. It is the moral obligation of every councillor to minimise the footprint that government has on our wallets, yet the council is running a huge deficit, reducing services and yet bills only ever go upward - sucking money out of our wallets and our community. Far from protecting and supporting the vulnerable, you are creating more of them. Shouldn't you get your own house in order before demanding more from us?

You complain that central grants have been reduced, but councils do have the autonomy and authority to mitigate this, and that does not excuse the fact this grubby little "costs" scam has been going on for years. Where is the value in piling on costs for those who are already struggling to make ends meet?

Peter North.

Friday 20 June 2014

South Gloucestershire Council climbdown

Councillor Ben Walker
Readers will recall this from a couple of weeks ago where our favourite council attempted to charge "costs" of £85 for 9p in council tax arrears. Well it so happens that an email making mention of this was sent yesterday by Ukip Councillor Ben Walker, to the BBC, the council chief executive and a selection of other council members.

Coincidentally, this morning, I received an email from SGC recovery officer Ms D Hooper (she who denies bailiff fraud without investigation) saying "I have on this occasion only, cancelled the costs incurred".

I'm a little disappointed. I was prepared to take this as far as the courts because I do wonder what a judge would make of this council's intemperate greed. It is not then surprising that SGC have climbed down. They don't need this in the media as this "costs" scam is a nice little earner.

A recent Freedom of Information request reveals that South Gloucestershire Council netted £412,22 last year in "costs" from council tax Liability Orders. Of the £85, the courts take their cut of the profits, but the council charges £55 for the act of sending a letter. 7,495 of them last year. The law allows only for "reasonable costs", but councils clearly disregard this and use arrears as a source of revenue. Further to this, it has also collected nearly £10k in credit card surcharges on those same payments.

It is little wonder then that new figures have revealed that between January and March, one in five people reporting debt problems to Citizens Advice were presenting council tax arrears issues. In the first three months of this year 27,000 people with a council tax arrears problem got help from Citizens Advice – a 17% increase on the same period last year. Councils are causing more debt problems than pay-day loan companies. Our own council is creating debt problems and dumping them on the private sector, the courts and debt charities without taking responsibility for the mess they are making.

I make special note of Ms Hooper's words in that she has "on this occasion only" dropped the charges. So I do not see this as a victory. It still means South Gloucestershire Council is willfully ripping off the less well off, having now demonstrated they do have the authority to quash them, or better still - cease to be engaged in this grand larceny in the first place.

It should be noted that this issue has been raised with our local Labour councillors (for three years in a row) and not a single one of them ever replied. Councillor Walker on the other hand seems to be a man who gets things done. Hopefully he will be instrumental in bringing this grubby little scam to an end.