As I have noted many times before, councils are the enemies of the people!
On the 8th of February a man took his own life. Peter Williams was a gifted engineer, whose invention, still manufactured today, landed him in the Guinness World Records, but he was driven to bankruptcy and suicide by an unthinking and inhumane bureaucratic system.
Falling ill after his diabetes medication failed he fell into arrears on his council tax.
Months later, having paid of these arrears in full the council charged him £1350 in court costs. Unable to pay but not refusing to, he made an offer in 2005 to pay in instalments, this was refused.
From 2008 onwards Peter’s friends and loved ones wrote letters and campaigned to try and get the Council to recognise Peter’s situation and vulnerability, but they still pursued him. They threatened to evict him from his home of 30 years, a £200,000 house he owned outright. At one stage there was even a warrant out for Peter’s arrest.
Peter Williams, was diagnosed with serious depression, his GP wrote to the Council explaining that he was in the most severe category and was in danger. The Council still pursued him.
Alistair Burt, Peter’s MP stepped in to delay the date of Peter’s inevitable eviction in 2010 and succeeded in getting a stay of execution. In 2012 the firm who still manufacture his invention, SAVortex, made an offer of £1k per month to clear the now £70k + costs & interest, but it was rejected.
In February, after years of being pursued by Central Bedfordshire District Council, Peter wrote: “I have had enough and cannot stand any more of the mental turmoil,” and stepped in front of a train.
After 7 years of relentless pressure, including visitations and an arrest warrant, Peter Williams had accrued over £70,000 in interest and court fees on an original charge of £1350 for arrears that had been long paid off. He could no longer cope.
The Council’s said at the time: “we reject any suggestion that the council was responsible for this tragic event.”
In May the Local Government Ombudsman found Torbay Council guilty for carrying out the same tactics against a suicidal man who, unlike Peter, thankfully survived the ordeal. They have had to make reparations to the tune of £25,000.
In Peter William’s case the LGO have found there to be no maladministration, despite the similar circumstances, tactics and the loss of life.
I wrote about Peter for the first time today, because the press had not covered the issue. Taking to Twitter Central Bedfordshire Council’s response was simply:
Mr Williams' death was tragic and the circumstances of his death will be investigated by the coroner KA
At this stage we are not able to discuss the circumstances of Mr Williams death. We will co-operate fully with the Coroner KA
Please take the time to write, email, phone or even tweet Central Bedfordshire District Council and tell them that this is an unacceptable way to treat people.
Telephone: 0300 300 8301
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