Councils concerned at heavy-handed tactics

HORROR stories about bailiffs are legion: the bailiffs sent in to recover 4p of outstanding poll tax; a golden diamond ring seized and sold for pounds 14 despite having been valued at pounds 140; a pounds 700 car sold for pounds 20; and many examples of the use of heavy-handed tactics and threats to obtain money or goods.

Mike and Sheila Barton, who own a general store in Bristol, are taking legal action against bailiffs working for Bristol City Council who emptied most of the contents of their shop into black plastic bags over non-payment of pounds 733 business rate.

But Mr Barton had already reached an 11th-hour agreement with the council to pay the debt in instalments. The goods were returned some hours later and dumped in the middle of the shop. Ice cream left behind when the fridge was taken had melted. A council spokesman said: 'It appears the goods should not have been taken away.'

Such cases have led Bristol City Council to give notice to the firm of private bailiffs it employs that it is terminating its contract.

Some councils have managed without employing firms of private bailiffs. A spokesman for Nottingham City Council said using their own staff meant debtors could often be given help and advice rather than see their goods taken away. But Leeds, Manchester and Darlington have all increased the number of bailiffs they use. Manchester uses three firms, hoping the competition will ensure high standards of conduct.

Both the National Consumer Council and the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux have been highly critical of the way private bailiffs operate. They believe all bailiffs should be professionally qualified, all charges should be subject to statute, and that the list of goods which cannot be seized should be updated.

The Lord Chancellor's consultation document was regarded generally as disappointing.

A spokeswoman for the National Association of Citizens' Advice Bureaux said: 'The review is not going to look at the place of bailiffs in the enforcement process. The CAB service has already pointed out the many difficulties and anxieties caused by the continued use of private bailiffs. They are expensive, intimidating and, in many cases, unnecessary. People also have very few ways of complaining about bad practice and the current law does not protect them.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living