THURROCK Conservatives have welcomed new guidance governing the use of bailiffs issued by government last week.
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. When residents don’t pay on time they risk the debt being passed to bailiffs. On the flip side the council has the responsibility to be fair and proportionate when collecting what is owed.
“Since Labour took control of Thurrock complaints against their heavy handed actions when collecting local taxation have increased to be more than the rest of Essex combined. So it is clear they are failing in their duty. Many of those who contact Thurrock Conservatives on this complain of aggressive bailiffs, charges for visits that were never made and unnecessary costs being added to accounts. Whilst the debt should have been paid, there is no excuse for some of the tactics and poor practice we have seen.”
The new guidance makes it clear that Councils are now responsible for the action of their outsourced bailiffs. It is also makes clear any bailiff who makes phantom visits or applies unlawful charges faces action from the Police. Figures suggest that the top 5 bailiff firms made as much as £60 million last year and complaints about their actions have soared by 38% in 5 years.
Councillor Gledhill added “With Labour being forced into taking action to collect £100,000’s of uncollected parking fines, I can see the use of bailiffs increasing significantly. This new guidance will mean residents who haven’t paid will have more protection from rogue bailiffs and recourse when things go wrong.
“However Labour run Thurrock Council needs to take a long hard look at its own collection practices to ensure they firm but fair not aggressive and bullying.”