Here in the UK, in the town where I live, my local council office has shut down, apparently without giving much notice at all.
For many here, it was their only means of being able to physically interact with their local council.
My particular issue, is that the nearest offices are now several miles away and, without owning a vehicle or possessing a bank account, therefore also
having no debit or credit cards, the only
other option left open to me and many others to be able to pay our Council Tax is to use the local
Post Office, which charges a set fee each time one uses them to pay the council in this manner.
I would also like to state for the record that I am perfectly willing
to pay my taxes (albeit for the inadequate return of services, but that's
another issue) for the continued running and maintenence of socially beneficial services.
The other day I went into town to pay my Council Tax, only to find the local office had closed for good.
Apparently, they had put an A4 sized 'note' on their door a while ago, stating this was to occur, according to what I had been told by another member
of the public.
So, I E-Mailed their Head Office to enquire as to how I am now going to be able to pay my tax, noting the facts that I have no access to bank
facilities, nor am I willing to be forced to pay an additional charge
just to be able to pay my dues via the Post Office service.
Here is a copy of my E-Mail to them, followed by their response (names have been omitted for obvious reasons):
To whom it may concern,
I would like to know how I am to pay my Council Tax, considering you have now closed (without sufficiently informing people I must add - I for one,
didn't know this was happening) your XXXXX branch where I paid my Tax at?
Some points to consider before replying to me, please:
1. I do not, nor intend to ever have, a bank account, credit card or debit card.
2. I am unable to travel to XXXXX offices each week or fortnight (unless you are prepared to fund the £5+ return bus fare for each occasion) to pay
3. I refuse to be charged an unfair and additional fee each time I would pay my Council Tax, simply because I am forced to do so solely due to
the closure of my local council offices.
Yours, XXXX XXXXX.
And the reply:
Dear Mr XXXXX
Thank you for your e-mail dated 18 April 2011.
I am sorry that you feel that we did not sufficiently notify the public of the closure of the XXXXX branch . However, there have been posters /
leaflets and business cards on display and available in the branch since the beginning of February 2011, and all visitors to the service bureau were
told of the imminent closure by the service agents. We have also had articles in the [local newspaper] and on the local TV and radio .
I am sorry that you feel that we have been unfair in the operation of this service, but in the current economic climate with the savings that the
Council is having to make, it was not financially viable for all the residents of the district that they be asked to subsidise the XXXXX service
We have, in making the changes to the services, endeavoured to provide as many alternative options/facilities to cover as many different people as we
can, unfortunately we have not been able to provide something that suits everybody.
CSD Client Manager
So, what - I'm now 'let off' paying my Council Tax (yeah, right!)?? Or should I await a court summons for failure to pay!?
Are they simply going to 'give up' on those unable to travel the several miles to their nearest office in another town, or those rightly unwilling or
financially unable to be charged the extra costs for something that is not their fault??
This is disturbing and certainly not a sign of professionalism.
If they are not simply 'writing off' those now unable to pay such as myself, then surely making criminals of these people, when and if they are
accused of failure to pay their tax, will do nothing to aid this "current economic climate" and, in fact, only go towards making things much worse!
Although, one can find a bitter amusement at the wording, such as: "changes to the services". Sounds so 'in control', doesn't it!
Not ignoring the fact that I see no "many
alternative options/facilities to cover...many different people", or that the several occasions on
which I previously went into my local office to pay, there was never once mention to me of their imminent closure.
It must also be a fault of mine that I do not read newspapers, nor do I watch TV. I do however, listen to the radio, but have yet to hear a bullitin
informing me of local closures of council offices...
[Global] Meltdown indeed.
edit on 19-4-2011 by OptimisticPessimist because: (no reason given)