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Bexley council makes no allowance for bank holidays

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Threatening letter
No apology

Most people know that 1st January is a bank holiday; but maybe not Bexley council. Local taxes are due on the first day of the month but it is widely accepted that financial transactions don’t make their way through the banking system at weekends or bank holidays. Except perhaps in bonkers Bexley which appears to operate under a different set of rules.

On 9th January 2010, one of this site’s contributors received a letter out of the blue from the council to say he was about to be prosecuted for non-payment of taxes with a threat of £95 in extra charges and cancellation of his installment plan. His offence? Not paying the sum due on 1st January - a bank holiday followed by a weekend. No one could possibly pay until the 4th, which was the case here. But on the 4th out went the threatening letter designed to frighten the recipient. Why do these council idiots jump in with both feet never considering that the recipient might have a temporary problem or to have died for all they know?

As you can imagine, a reply was speedily sent, maybe a little sarcastic in tone to reflect the fact that you have to be pretty stupid to have expected a bank payment on a day that the banks weren’t operating. Most people, maybe everyone, would assume that the letter was a simple mistake by Bexley council that would be instantly put right with a few words of apology. But no; this is Bexley council we are dealing with, staffed by far too many fools and nincompoops, not a single one of whom ever remembers who funds their sinecures and inflation linked pensions.

In the event the decision to withdraw the installment plan was rescinded which one must suppose is some sort of acknowledgement of the error, but you would look for a word of apology in vain. Not only no apology but the threat of prosecution is repeated with no acknowledgement whatever that 1st January is a bank holiday. “The council’s policy is to collect the Council Tax from April until January on the 1st of each month. As your payments are not being received on the 1st of the month, your account will be sent further reminders and possible Summons in the future, if payments are not made in time. The Final notice issued dated 4 January 2010 has been removed from your account and your installment plan has been reinstated.”

So in summary, Bexley council wants payments to be on 1st of the month without allowing for weekends or bank holidays and when one complains that this isn’t reasonable a jobsworth called Miss L. Cairns merely repeats the mantra without a word of apology and throws in a threat of prosecution for good measure. One would hope that people entrusted with signing letters would engage their brain before writing a semi-literate diatribe. I try to get my capitalisation of words and use of ordinal numbers to follow a pattern even if it is a pattern of my own invention, but Miss Cairns evidently prefers a bit of variety and randomness in their use. Obviously someone who pays scant attention to detail, like the fact that 1st January has been a bank holiday in England since 1975.

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