Friday, 30 October 2015

Abuse Victim 'Silenced' By Nottingham City Council

Two posts in one day? Blimey, go me...

Unfortunately it means that bad things are happening. I've just seen a news report that Nottingham City Council has taken legal action against Mickey Summers, a lead campaigner and complainant in the Beechwood Children's Home scandal to shut him up.

The Council has taken out an interim anti-social behaviour injunction against Mr Summers with a somewhat wide-ranging scope -

"The injunction bans him from visiting all "non-residential" council premises or approaching staff and from posting "any material involving anyone from Nottingham City Council, its staff, councillors, employees or agents" on the internet."

Considering that this concerns Mr Summers' experiences of being abused as a child at the hands of NCC (and the County as predecessors) this seems an excessively draconian attempt to silence the victim. NCC is never very keen for people to go around spreading information that undermines its reputation. It often uses the bullshit excuse that staff are affected. You know what I say to those staff? Get over yourself.

I hope Mr Summers is able to challenge the injunction at the full hearing.

Latest Council Tax Blackmail Wheeze

*awakes from slumber, yawns*

Sorry about the lack of postings, this is due to my ongoing mental decrepitude. I had thought of retiring the blog permanently as I don't really have the energy to keep it going on a regular basis but, well, let's see...

For now, I want to alert you to NCC's latest wheeze to heap pressure onto people who can't pay their Council Tax. NCC is proposing to report non-payers to Credit Reference Agencies (CRA), something which they accept that no other council does nor is thinking of doing. Part of their justification is a suspicion that people pay other debts before their Council Tax in order to not end up with a CRA entry.

Ok, well assuming people are that daft, won't that actually make things worse? Dodgy loan companies will be able to see than applicants have been prepared to miss CT payments to pay off low priority debts and will see them as a safer bet. Remember, many lenders do not use CRAs to tell if a person is 'financially responsible' they use them to risk assess whether the applicant is likely to repay that particular debt and whether they are a person they can make a profit from. Hence the fact that you can always get credit, just that the worse your credit file, the less likely your kneecaps are to survive the experience.

Perhaps more importantly, if you sign up for a loan or credit card you sign up to T&Cs that allow the lender to pass your details to CRAs, otherwise they would be in breach of data protection rules. No such agreement is entered into with Council Tax as payment is a statutory requirement i.e. you are forced, rather than agree, to pay. Therefore it is my belief that NCC would be in breach of the Data Protection Act if it were to pass details of non-payers to CRAs.

We should also remember that a big part of the reason for high numbers of non-payers is NCC's decision to widen the paynet to include a minimum 20% charge even to those of us who are on Income Support levels of income. Much bleating about cuts to central funding and how they 'cannot afford' to provide services, while at the same time refusing to accept that we cannot afford to pay despite real terms cuts to our benefits. Hypocrisy to the max and demonstrative of Nottingham Labour's fetish for threatening and punishing the poor.

I strongly recommend that you respond to the 'consultation' on this proposal and tell them what an illegal unjustifiable measure it is.