May 23 2013 Latest news:
Ramzy Alwakeel, Reporter
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
A Rainham accountant was shocked when his daughter phoned him at work to say the council had sent bailiffs to his house.
But shock turned to anger when he discovered the men had been sent to the wrong address – because he had a similar name to someone more than three miles away who owed £884 of council tax.
Graham Allen, of Castle Avenue, said the burly bailiffs harassed his daughter Kimberley, 25, and even threatened to take her car.
“Obviously my daughter isn’t Graham Allen,” he said, “but they started questioning her about her car. They would have taken the goods away if they could have proved the car was mine.”
In between updates from his daughter, Mr Allen, 59, had to make a series of phone calls to Havering Council to get them to call off the bailiffs – and even then they threatened to return.
“They backed off about the car and eventually did leave,” he said, “but they said they could come back the next day and demand payment.
“What annoys me was that the procedures at the council aren’t strong enough to make sure they’re sending out bailiffs to the right person. If they’re going to do that kind of thing, you’d hope they’d made sure they’d got the right person.”
Mr Allen said the council was requesting payment for an address in a different part of the borough.
After complaining to the council, Mr Allen was sent an apology by customer services improvement manager Ted Smith, explaining what had gone wrong.
“In your case, the individual we were trying to locate was listed immediately above your entry,” it read. “Unfortunately the clerk dealing with the matter incorrectly typed your address into the case record rather than the correct address from the entry above your own.”
Mr Smith added the court order held by the bailiffs would not be available to credit bureaus and so the episode would not affect Mr Allen’s credit rating.
Cllr Michael Armstrong, cabinet member with responsibility for customer services, said: “We are very sorry that the bailiffs were sent to the wrong address and deeply regret any distress caused to Mr Allen and his daughter. We have looked at our procedures when we check names and addresses with people who are in arrears and put in place improved training for our officers.”