What follows is a draft letter written after I experienced no less than three distinct and illegal breaches of my human rights in one day. I have spoken about this more here
Because I am poor I am denied justice.
My local council has an issue with corruption regardless of if it admits it or not. One of our elected councillors is currently investigating the distinct possibility that a member of the council has been using his position to make life impossible for my family. This is almost certainly the same person as the anonymous cyberstalker who has been harassing me with far to much intimate knowledge of myself and my family with gaps of knowledge consistent with the data held by the council.
As a result of this persons actions I have been denied benefits all year. The councillor investigating is the first representative for my ward (there are three seats) to ever bother to acknowledge correspondence. In short no one is interested and there is no funding to seek legal redress. I am at the mercy of the every whim of those that abuse the system from without and within.
There is just one department within the council that collects rent arrears and council tax. Somehow this department was able to write to me and arrange payments for my rent but unable to communicate with me regarding any council tax owed. So that at the end of the first half of the year they had failed to send many of us a bill at all.
The first I know is when the only councillor from my ward ever give me the time of day told me I would be summoned for non payment and there was nothing he could do about it.
Sure enough I was sent a final demand and a summons that same month. The summons was issued 24 days before the date of the letter of the demand. The law requires 28 days notice as a minimum before action can be taken.
I felt sure that should I present my case on the day that I would not have costs awarded against me and that “normal” progression of paying such tax would commence.
I reckoned without the 2 and a half hour delay and I reckoned without the fact that many of the other people summoned to court 2 that day had very similar stories. Thanet District Council was breaking the law.
The bench did not seem at all impressed that I was in the court room at all and as I started to read my prepared statement the “head” whatever he might be titled sighed. The statement which outlined the details of my case covers a single side of A4. I was stopped from reading it and told to summarise and sit down.
The council representative who did not even get my address right reiterated his claims and the bench award costs against me. I objected and was told in no uncertain terms that “the council is in good standing” with a tone that said “and you are not”. This despite the identical nature of so many respondents claims.
So, you see, regardless of the law of this land I was guilty unless I could prove my innocence.
To my understanding no one left that court without costs being awarded against them and the debt (in my case just under £1000) to be paid within one month. Failure to pay will see what little we posses taken from us by a court system that would not even listen to the evidence against the council. The same council that is rated poorly and, as I have experience first hand, harbours shocking abuse of power.
There is no legal aid to fight cases involving benefits or local authorities and so this will go unaddressed unless I can obtain help. But from where does my help come from?
I am poor. I live in an area of exceptional poverty in a county with one of the highest rates of unemployment in the UK. Who in their right mind would care that these abuses of human rights took place in this corner of our country? Who is there to speak up about the lack of protection we poor are given.
We are the abused of Thanet, the ignored of Kent and the unheard of England.
We are desperate.