Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hackney Council writes off £millions

However, the are still intent on spending thousands on lawyers to pursue market traders in a campaign of harassment.

Read this and then compare it with the Hackney Gazette report below ...

In Thames Magistrates Court yesterday market trader and 'Metric Martyr' Colin Hunt (left) faced the most bizarre of criminal charges. (What must be borne in mind, and must be placed in context, is that Colin Hunt, one of the original five Metric Martyrs, is the brother of Janet Devers, the 63 year old Hackney trader who currently faces charges by Hackney Council of selling goods by the pound ... the first such prosecution for 6 years).

The charges ... obstruction of the public highway by having his mango boxes 12" over the white line ... his pitch boundary.

What staggered the court was the fact that the council's evidence clearly showed people walking past the boxes. However, Colin produced damning evidence ... perhaps finally revealing the true agenda behind the Metric Martyr's prosecution ... two separate written statements from former Market Inspectors claiming that their bosses had been conducting a deliberate campaign against the market trader, currently on sticks at work recovering from a hip operation.

The Magistrates immediately adjourned the case and the witnesses have been requested to appear in court to give evidence.

Perhaps now, finally the truth will out.

COUNCIL WRITES OFF MILLIONS

Hackney Gazette
mailto:hg.editorial@archant.co.uk
07 August 2008

A Gazette investigation has uncovered millions of pounds of taxpayer's money written off by Hackney Council. Almost £40million of debt went uncollected in the last financial year, an audit of the town hall books revealed.
Opposition councillors and campaigners slammed the council for its inefficiency and unfairness.

Parking fines accounted for more than half the £38million of debts Town Hall officials wrote off in the last financial year. An audit of the town hall books found council's parking officials failed to collect more than £21million in parking fines. Mark Wallace, campaign director at public spending watchdog, Taxpayers Alliance, said it seemed that the council was using the parking fines to make money off people who would pay the first time of asking but let those who didn't get away with it.

He said: "I think this has become a total farce. It makes a mockery of the law."

Most of the cash was lost through parking tickets expiring and errors when issuing the tickets.The council also pays Central Parking System (CPS) almost £3million per year to give out parking tickets. No provision is made in its contract with CPS to be fined for mistakes made when issuing tickets and the company receives thousands of pounds in bonuses for meeting its targets.
Council tax was the next sizeable chunk written off with more than £6.7million in debt not collected, nearly double the amount written off in the previous year. The council said that this was due to the debts being irretrievable as they were more than six years old, the amount owed was so small it would be uneconomical to collect or the person had died.
A similar explanation was given for the £6.5million outstanding in rent arrears on council properties. The failure to collect council tax and rent arrears, Mr Wallace added, sent a message that people didn't have to pay it.

But while the council were writing off millions of pounds they were also spending significant amounts as well. The Gazette ploughed through the council's finances after they were made public at the end of last month. More than £42million was spent on agency staff by the council in 2007/08, £11million more than neighbours Tower Hamlets. On top of this, nearly £3million more was paid to consultants.
Mr Wallace also slammed the council splashing out £545,000 to produce and distribute its newsheet Hackney Today. "It is utterly outrageous that the money paid by hard working taxpayers is being squandered on council propaganda that hardly anyone reads." If they want to publicise themselves, they should do a good job.

3 comments:

Giles Pepperell said...

Neil,

I have beaten Hackney on a CPZ PCN. Cancelled as I recall.

Their current (temporary AIUI) Chief Exec. was the Financial Director, so he can 'do what he likes'.

Regarding Colin Hunt and Janet Devers and the actions of Councl officers (vicarious liability of Chief Exec.) check The Protection from Harrassment Act 1997 -

http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/SearchResults.aspx?TYPE=QS&Title=harassment&Year=&Number=&LegType=All+Legislation

and better still sections 125, 126 & 127 of The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005:

http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/SearchResults.aspx?TYPE=QS&Title=serious+organised+crime&Year=2005&Number=&LegType=All+Legislation


I think complaints of clearly criminal activity to the police are in order.

Anonymous said...

Hi Neil

Possibly not the best place to put these comments, but I could find no other means by which to communicate with you.

Excellent website which I have only recently been told about.

You may care to reproduce the following articles on your website which I feel sure will be of great interest to your readers.

David Clifford, Common Sense rules over Clockhouse Car Park, 24 April 2008
http://cllrclifford.blogspot.com/2008/04/common-sense-rules-over-clockhouse-car.html

Keith Parkins, North Camp traders suffer, Indymedia UK, 21 July 2008
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/07/404310.html

Keith Parkins, North Camp street parking, Indymedia UK, 28 July 2008
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/07/404836.html

Keith Parkins, The duty of local councils to consult, Indymedia UK, 1 August 2008
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/08/405173.html

Keith Parkins, Highway robbery, Indymedia UK, 5 August 2008
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/08/405489.html?c=on

Best wishes
Keith

Jim said...

We are making a forum for people to post thier complaints so the dissatisfaction of residents can be made public.

http://hackneycouncilcomplaints.wordpress.com/

Would appriecate if the link could remain here to help boost the site (and get some initial posters)/

Thanks!

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