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Incompetence Watch #1

Thursday, 27th July, 2002

E-Mail to Calderdale Council, 27 Jul 2002

FAO Will Frankish


Dear Mr Frankish,

I've just received a letter in your name dated 26 Jul 2002 in reply to my letter of 11 Jul 2002. This is in regards to my council tax for the current year for which I was recently summoned to court.

Please understand the following. My council tax was paid in full at the beginning of the tax year, as I am far happier avoiding monthly payments. I paid by cheque, which was dated 4 May 2002 and made out for the full �507.64 due. Checking my bank account I see that this cheque was cashed on 18 Jul 2002, a period of over three months after you received it.

I have no idea how long it takes the council to process a cheque and have no particular interest in knowing. I do not know how many departments my cheque has to go through and I am not interested in whether or not you are working, not working or on strike. That is your business, not mine. My business is to send you payment which I did, on time and in full.

That you should suggest that this is all my fault for not raising the matter earlier is ridiculous and frankly offensive. I do not have any of your reminder letters to hand as they will all have been recycled by now, but I am pretty sure that there is a line on all of them indicating that they can be safely ignored if payment has already been made. As I had paid I felt that this situation applied to me.

I do not check that particular bank account regularly as I only use it for bill payments, and as such I did not notice that the cheque had not been cashed. I also did not realise that it should somehow be my responsibility to check up on you.

I was only made aware that there was a serious problem when I received a summons to court, which does tend to indicate that something has gone fundamentally wrong. I immediately contacted your department to clarify whether you had indeed received my cheque or whether I needed to send a replacement.

As the original cheque has now been cashed, and I have sent no replacement at any time, it is patently obvious that any holdup was at your end. Your reply suggests that I should somehow be liable for a �26 charge to cover your own delay. I refute this absolutely. May I suggest that you bill whichever employee sat on my cheque for three months because I will not accept responsibility for it.

I presume that this sort of blatant inefficiency is precisely why my council tax is so exhorbitantly high in the first place. I am not and have never been happy with Calderdale Council and it seems that every contact I should have with them merely underlines that. I pay my council tax under protest but I pay it nonetheless as it is a legal obligation.

I am gratified that you should provide an e-mail address and thus I am sending this by the simplest and most efficient means of contacting you quickly. Please note that I have also requested a read receipt which will tell me exactly when this mail is actually read.

I am wary of sending a letter as by your current standards even if I posted it through the door of your Princess Street offices today you would somehow not receive it until mid-November. I will however also send a copy of this mail by standard post just in case.

Please end this insanity immediately and cancel these pointless charges. If you choose to pursue it to the courts, please note that I am unable to attend due to the fact that I work for a living and am contracted to be in Manchester at the time, but that this letter should stand as my defence.

Yours sincerely,

Hal C F Astell

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