Thursday, 20 May 2010

Council Computer Error Causes Upset

By Ben Aulakh

A Warwickshire businesswoman was left “shocked and upset” after she was wrongly sent a court summons by her local council.

Diana Hastings – from South Warwickshire – was sent the summons to appear by Warwick District Council after they accused her of not paying her business rates.

The document stated that the Mrs Hastings owed £793, in addition she was told she had to pay £70 costs, which made her feel “shocked, upset and angry”

She had originally deferred her business rates until 2010, she was told that she would pay the extra amount on each months rates during the course of that financial year.

The businesswoman took this option after the council offered her the chance to do so in 2009.

However after contacting the council she was told that a computer error had failed to take into account the deferral.

Mrs Hastings said, “After I postponed my payments the only paperwork I was sent was my new rates bill which clearly indicated that my deferral had been added onto it.

“If the council produced that form with those details on it why do they then send me a summons telling me I haven’t paid?”

Also, when Mrs Hastings rang the council to resolve the issue, she had to wait 45 minutes in a queue before she was put through, something which “made (her) really cross.”

The first time the businesswoman was put through she was told that she should have paid off the deferred amount at the end of the 2009 financial year.

She was offered a plan to pay back what she owed on a monthly basis; it was only after contacting the council a second time that she was told the mistake was down to a computer error.

Mrs Hastings was told over the phone that the council had “had a lot of this” and that if she “had not rung up they would not have noticed the mistake.”

She added, “This is the first time I have had this problem however I think they brushed it off very lightly.

“I think that someone should be held accountable for this mistake.”

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