Having half prepared a post on Take That for you today I am not going with it as this morning Mr Elliot’s son knocked on my door (Mr Elliot bought our house off us last year if you remember) and he handed me an unsealed letter which had obviously been read by him or his dad.
‘Oh? Thank you.’ I said.
‘You won’t, ‘ the young boy replied looking me with a strange gloomy expression.
I opened the envelope and pulled out a piece of paper with huge red printed letters across it BAILIFF REMOVAL The paper was headed by Equita, it had a mobile phone number on it and the name Mr G Nichol. The letter went on ‘I am authorised by the court under the Enforcement of road traffic debts regulations 1993 to remove your vehicle/household effects to satisfy your unpaid penalty charge notice due to London Borough of Lambeth.
‘What? I don’t have any outstanding parking tickets I’ve never heard of this before. It must be fake.’ This was my first reaction.
I checked up Equita online and they are supposedly who they say, I tried calling the number on the website but this just asked me for the ref number which I pumped in and gave me Mr Nichol’s number again. Back to square one. How could I know if this was a hoax or kosher?
I called Mr Nichol. I explained this couldn’t possibly be as I had never heard of anything before, never received a letter from Equita or Lambeth Council for that matter and therefore there must be some mistake.
He didn’t mince his words with me. I should try phoning the council, the court anyone because he had a job to do and that was that.
‘So what? You’re going to come and take my car away if I don’t pay a fine I never heard of before? How much is the fine by the way?’
‘£638.44 at the moment.’
At this point I think I may have left my body for a while as it froze in fear, you know like the cartoon figure that stops midair? ‘I haven’t got that money. This must be wrong. There must be something I can do?’
Mr Nichol didn’t really care that much, I had been given my letter, albeit at the wrong address and then passed on to me ‘So just let me know when you’re ready what you’re going to do.’
Sh*t! I didn’t say that to him of course but I thought it. I cried for a bit out of fear and frustration, a true ‘this can’t be happening to me’ moment This is stuff for documentary’s not law abiding me.
I phoned Paul who was indignant that we shouldn’t pay for something we had never heard of before, I gave him Mr G Nichol’s number told him to see if he could get any sense out of the unhelpful man. He didn’t. He was told to phone Equita and sort it out with them.
‘But that number is automatic! It just gives me Nichol’s number to contact!’
‘Look it up in directory enquiries.’ he said. I did and I phoned. I spoke to a lady that on hearing my story was feeling very uncomfortable. I asked her how many letters had been sent out.
‘Five.’ she said
‘Can you give me the dates please?’ I could hear her squirming and she finally came out with no, she couldn’t.’
‘Well can you help me please? I’m not even sure I was in London that day.’
She told me to phone Lambeth Council, give them my reference number and get this Late Statutory statement signed.
I got on the phone straight away, managed to get through to Jennifer who looked up on her system, I was there but there was no photographic evidence. She could also see another fine which I had paid years earlier. In fact that time I got fined becasue on the resident’s visitors permit I forgot to write in the car registration number but unable to get through to anyone and never receiving a reply to my appeal I paid up rather than get in a mess like this one.
Jennifer told me to call Northampton County Court and ask for this form to sign as soon as possible, that would at least block the bailiff’s power until the court decided which action to take.
So next phone call to the courts – 20 minutes in a queue but I. Was. Not. Going. To. Move. the lady I spoke to was very helpful and sent me via email the forms to fill in which she hastened to add wouldn’t be processed till tomorrow as they stop processing at 4pm (it was 3.45pm) I was to phone back after 4pm the following day to see if my request had been granted. If yes, Lambeth would be informed who in turn would inform Mr G Nichol and I would hear in the future how the court were going to act on my statement.
I thought it would be nice to inform Mr Nichol of my progress to keep him up to date so I called him.
He told me that my partner had been very rude to him and as a consequence he was going to come around tomorrow morning anyway to take my car away. He finished by putting the phone down on me as I heard children laughing in the background.
We have filled in the forms, checked boxes and written reasons as to why we shouldn’t have our car taken
- We never got a parking ticket
- Don’t even know if we were in London that day
- Have never received any correspondance of any kind from Lambeth Council or Equita
- The people who bought our house have never received any post and are willing to sign a statement to back it up (Mr Elliot’s a policeman too)
So now, we have to move the car tonight to a side road as Mr Elliot told him where we lived and wait till the paperwork has been processed so please keep your fingers crossed. On the advice of fellow Tweeters I shall have my camcorder ready just in case he does show up and I shall film him through the porch door and put it on You Tube