Friday, 19 September 2008

Plaid Cymru leading the way on Social Justice

PRESS RELEASE - Bailiffs and Council Tax Collection.

Plaid Cymru Councillor express concerns over malpractice by bailiffs used by Wrexham Council to collect council tax arrears. Wrexham Council issued nearly 8,500 summonses in the last financial year for arrears, which is an increase of nearly 2,000 summonses from 2005/06. The Council released over 2,600 court orders to external bailiffs last year and some anecdotal evidence suggests that in a number of cases, bailiffs may have used dubious practises to obtain payments from local people, many of whom are vulnerable!
Councillor Arfon Jones, who is also a volunteer advisor with Wrexham & District Citizens Advice Bureau said,

"It is essential that council's do collect council tax to maintain service, but they do need to monitor, more closely, how bailiffs operate, through robust service level agreements to prevent malpractice and abuse.and I am not sure that this is happening at present."

Councillor Jones has carried out research locally on the extent of the problem, for example: (permission to quote this example has been approved by the Bureau).

"The numbers of clients coming in to Wrexham & District Citizens Advice Bureau for advice on council tax arrears has increased by approximately a third from last year, and from some of the cases, we have evidence of bailiffs bills on file, showing very high charges. Clients are claiming that bailiffs are trying to force entry and also appear to be subcontracting to other bailiffs."

Citizens Advice published a report in 2006, called 'Putting Bailiffs On the Spot" which called on the Government to legislate to regulate bailiffs because of evidence collected nationally of malpractice. This report said that two thirds of cases of bailiff harassment, reported to Bureau's nationally, concerned the collection of council tax. Councillor Jones will call on the Council's Finance and Scrutiny Committee to carry out a review of Council Tax collection, he goes on to say,

"It is important to the Council's credibility and reputation that they contract out this type of work to bailiffs who treat debtors with dignity, and respect. I believe that Councils should employ their own in house bailiffs like Denbighshire Council who also have the second highest rate of council tax collection in Wales whereas Wrexham is in 10th place"


Anonymous said...

Councillor Arfon Jones is so outraged, he will presumably be resigning from the Cabinet that runs the Council then?

Plaid Whitegate said...

Why should he leave the Exec Board if he succeeds in persuading the rest of the coalition of his case re bailiffs?
I presume you're a Labour hack - so why hasn't Labour raised this before? Labour ran the council four years ago and has had plenty of time to take action.

Anonymous said...

An interesting answer.
Just to make you even more paranoid, your presumption about my political affiliation, is totally and utterly wrong.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

I dont think so...the Labour members on the Executive Board attempt every time we meet to get me to resign, you and your Labour colleagues are just 'wreckers' and 'whingers' bereft of ideas and contribute nothing to the good governance of Wrecsam. Plaid Cymru have taken the mantle of social justice away from a tired and boring old...New Labour...just to remind you what Don Touhig said, Plaid run rings round Labour.

Anonymous said...

For the second time, I repeat - you are wrong in your presumption.
My political affiliations, are way to the Left of both yourselves and NuLabour.
If I may say so, your parties are both typical of the political establishment in Wales. Both of your parties have and continue to fail to represent the true interests of working class people in Wales, whilst maintaining the pretence that you do the opposite.
By your Party's own admission, Plaid want to replace NuLabour the the main establishment party in Wales. If that is your ambition, that's fine. But in the process of achieving that ambition, you cannot realistically expect that others in the political spectrum (such as myself on the Left) will not point out your deficiencies, as and when they arise. Its called political debate.
I hope you allow this explanation to be published, and not leave your somewhat narrow and parochial tirade against NuLabour locally, to be the final word on the subject. Thank you.

Plaid Whitegate said...

You can't win with some people - publish a comment on Georgia and it's too broad, publish a comment about allotments and bailiffs in Wrecsam and it's narrow and parochial...
Plaid has many deficiencies - don't we all - but it is pushing a credible and radical alternative to the London parties. If you want to debate that alternative I'm very happy to organise a meeting in Wrecsam.

Penyberth said...

Personally, I'm right behind Arfon on this one - I think this is an issue someone needed to raise.

I wonder if your anon would come to a meeting anyway. I considered going to John Marek Independent Party meeting a few years back to see if something would start from that. I had hoped that might be the start of something other than a one-man ego boost for Wrecsam's favourite sandal wearer. Now, having seen the slow death of Forward Wales when the activists left, I'm glad I didn't.

Is it still even going?

That's the problem with the radical left - all talk and no real action. At least Plaid gets things done, even if they aren't popular with everyone!