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Possible interruption of service

Posted by Richard Friday, July 02, 2004

Despite the EU being the major preoccupation of this Blog, other issues do occasionally intrude. This morning, this author is attending Bradford Magistrates' court in response to an arrest warrant, for refusal to pay part of the Council Tax.

The proceedings are being taken by Bradford Metropolitan District Council, the department involved being – and I kid you not – the Customer Services Department. They have intimated that they will be asking for a three month jail sentence if I refuse to pay the outstanding amount – initially £78, but now inflated by costs to £272.34.

The initial sum was in fact the police precept, which I deducted from the Council Tax for a very simple reason. The West Yorkshire Police Service – recently slated as one of the worst police services in the country – simply is not providing a service.

Our house, in a quiet suburb of Bradford, has now been burgled five times. Virtually every house in the street has been "done", and my elderly neighbour was mugged on her front doorstep, in broad daylight, while she was getting her keys out to open her door.

In terms of prevention, or solving any of these crimes, the police have been as much use as the proverbial chocolate fireguard. However, that is not to say we have never seen them. We once had twelve of them in the street at one time – when the came to arrest me for trying to prevent a pair of unlicensed bailiffs stealing my car.

That time, I was assaulted, arrested, and locked up for five hours, and then charged with resisting arrest. The charges were miraculously dropped when the bailiff's warrant was finally produced, which proved that the bailiffs were acting illegally. No apology was ever offered, and when I sought to make a complaint in person at the local police station, I was told by the station superintendent, very loudly, to "get out".

Why the bailiffs were there in the first place is a long story, but related to an incident when I was charged for "not being in proper control" of a motor vehicle, when using a mobile phone, in the days before using mobile in cars was an offence. The charge was a crock, and I had refused to pay the fine, instead making a complaint to the chief constable - which was ignored. Incidentally, with police aid, the bailiffs did steal my car, and it cost me £350 to recover it.

On the day that I paid the cheque to the Council for my tax, my wife's car was broken into, the side window being smashed. Coincidentally, it cost us £78 to repair, the same amount we were being charged for the Police precept. It was the last straw. I simply deducted the sum from the Council tax.

Now we have the interesting situation of a "customer" being charged money by a police service, which does not provide a service, and refusing to pay for the lack of the same, then being summonsed by the customer service department of the council, where I will be dealt with by the court service, who may well do me the "service" of ordering me to be locked up, and thus passed to the custody of the self-same police service who had done me no service, until I can be handed over to the prison service – or whatever it is called now – who will do me the service of depriving me of my liberty – while the criminals who robbed my house and smashed up my wife's car roam free. As they say, you couldn't make it up.

And, as they also say, I may be some time.