'Pay tax bill or we'll take your car'

PEOPLE in north Essex who fail to pay outstanding council tax bills could find their cars seized to cover the cost of the money owed.

Roddy Ashworth

PEOPLE in north Essex who fail to pay outstanding council tax bills could find their cars seized to cover the cost of the money owed.

Tendring District Council is bringing in a special bailiffs' firm to stage surgeries aimed at working out repayment plans for those who have fallen behind.

The week long initiative is aimed at talking with customers with court orders against them in an effort to come up with arrangements over how the debts can be paid off.

But the council has issued a stark warning that those who do not stick to the agreements run the risk of having their vehicles taken away.

The council's bailiffs, Collect Services, are currently chasing up payment of just over �1million out of a total liability of �61 million.

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Leaflets will be sent out to those owing cash to the council outlining the scheme and inviting them to a meeting with a member of the court team and a representative from Collect Services.

John Hughes, portfolio holder for benefits and revenues at TDC, said the initiative had come about following discussions between the council and the bailiffs.

“This is an opportunity for those with outstanding council tax debts for the current financial year to come in and discuss the way forward,” he said.

“The whole idea is to help them to resolve this issue but they need to be aware that if the offers of short term payment arrangements are not taken up then a priority will be placed on removing their motor vehicle.”

People attending will be given the opportunity to query the amount owed, question the liability, discuss how to avoid goods being removed, ask for time to pay and to talk over any other issues concerning the arrears.

Mr Hughes added that as the billing authority, TDC has a responsibility to make collection of council tax for each financial year according to Government regulations.

The surgeries will take place from November 16 to 20, 2009 and leaflets will be sent out to all those who have a Liability Order with the bailiffs.

The clinics will be staged at the Council Office, 88-90 Pier Avenue, Clacton, on November 16,17,18,19 and 20 from 10am to 1pm and then 2pm to 4pm. No appointments are necessary.

One will also be held at the Council Office, Waddesdon Road, Harwich, on November 20 between 10am and 3pm.

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