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> 'Ruthless' Council Pursue Dying Man for £35.00 Bill, a call was put through to hospital as patient lay in coma!
Andy Capp
post Sep 19 2013, 11:21 PM
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While some people vent their spleen about obnoxious events like a repeat story or poor grammar in the 75p Newbury Weekly News, I was staggered by a story in the paper about a man that was being pursued for a disputed £35.00 tax bill. A call was even made to the hospital he was in, while in a coma! The council had been previously contacted by a representatives of the dying man explaining his condition, but the council would have none of it. This from a council who knowingly fine people for trivial parking 'offences' even when they they have no legal basis for doing so.

Do you think West Berkshire Council's spokes man, Public Relations Manager Mr Keith 'in the interests of confidentiality, we will not discuss individual cases' Ulyatt, was in anyway contrite about the issue? Of course not.

Put it this way, I don't want a council to act in such an abominable way on my behalf!


Story on page 7, column 1. Thursday, 19 September 2013.
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motormad
post Sep 20 2013, 12:02 AM
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If this is true as reported, what an ACTUAL ****.
There is just no
Common sense
DECENCY
or RESPECT left in this country

Keith Ulyatt, you should be ashamed to even be associated with such people.


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Andy Capp
post Sep 20 2013, 10:34 AM
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QUOTE (motormad @ Sep 20 2013, 01:02 AM) *
If this is true as reported, what an ACTUAL ****.
There is just no
Common sense
DECENCY
or RESPECT left in this country

Keith Ulyatt, you should be ashamed to even be associated with such people.

I agree, I find the story so disturbing I'd like to think that we are not being told the whole story, but that doesn't forgive not showing any sense of contrition.
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Claude
post Sep 20 2013, 11:03 AM
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There are two sides to every story, it's a shame we only have one, which may have been 'sensationalised' for the press.
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greenandgrey
post Sep 20 2013, 11:53 AM
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Do not belive all that you read in the NWN - as Claude says, there are 2 sides to every story and one side is not fronted by a freelance reporter selling a sensationalist story. I doubt that what really happened is as reported
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Andy Capp
post Sep 20 2013, 02:11 PM
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QUOTE (Claude @ Sep 20 2013, 12:03 PM) *
There are two sides to every story, it's a shame we only have one, which may have been 'sensationalised' for the press.
QUOTE (greenandgrey @ Sep 20 2013, 12:53 PM) *
Do not belive all that you read in the NWN - as Claude says, there are 2 sides to every story and one side is not fronted by a freelance reporter selling a sensationalist story. I doubt that what really happened is as reported

But that doesn't excuse an apparent lack of contrition, unless you are saying that the NWN censored that too?
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motormad
post Sep 20 2013, 03:22 PM
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QUOTE (greenandgrey @ Sep 20 2013, 12:53 PM) *
Do not belive all that you read in the NWN - as Claude says, there are 2 sides to every story and one side is not fronted by a freelance reporter selling a sensationalist story. I doubt that what really happened is as reported


Well the minor details may be missed but I think calling up the hospital where someone is admitted to chasing for money is pretty low.


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greenandgrey
post Sep 20 2013, 05:31 PM
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QUOTE (motormad @ Sep 20 2013, 04:22 PM) *
Well the minor details may be missed but I think calling up the hospital where someone is admitted to chasing for money is pretty low.

Do you seriously believe that the Council would phone a hospital to chase a patient for money -- I don't think so ! . We only have one side of the story and ,yes, the Council refuse to comment but as far as I can recall, they never seem to comment on individual cases and rightly so - we all value our privacy and do not want personal information put out for all and sundry to see . The other side of the story may be far far different from what you read in Mr Radford's tale - i wonder how much he got paid to sensationalise it ?
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motormad
post Sep 20 2013, 05:50 PM
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As I said, the minor details - But yes, if the Government are like any other organization chasing money, yes they would.


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Andy Capp
post Sep 20 2013, 06:41 PM
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QUOTE (greenandgrey @ Sep 20 2013, 06:31 PM) *
We only have one side of the story and ,yes, the Council refuse to comment but as far as I can recall, they never seem to comment on individual cases and rightly so - we all value our privacy and do not want personal information put out for all and sundry to see.

But the 'victim' went to the press, they didn't seem bothered telling Newbury about a disputed debt! I also often see organisations, when compromised, hide behind the 'confidentiality' excuse.

QUOTE (greenandgrey @ Sep 20 2013, 06:31 PM) *
The other side of the story may be far far different from what you read in Mr Radford's tale - i wonder how much he got paid to sensationalise it ?

It doesn't stop WBC's spokes man at least making a statement along the lines of: "we apologise for an distress we might have caused", or some such line, either that, or deny making the call in the way portrayed.

If you are right; however, then the NWN might have some apologising to do themselves.
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Simon Kirby
post Sep 20 2013, 10:16 PM
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The Council's behaviour sounds to have been high-handed and arrogant.


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ihowgate
post Sep 23 2013, 04:19 PM
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QUOTE (greenandgrey @ Sep 20 2013, 12:53 PM) *
Do not belive all that you read in the NWN - as Claude says, there are 2 sides to every story and one side is not fronted by a freelance reporter selling a sensationalist story. I doubt that what really happened is as reported


As someone who was at Mr Smith's bedside at least every other day during his 16 day stay in hospital, the person who holds all the e-mails that have been quoted, the person who spoke to the nurse who took the call and who spoke to the mother immediately after her son died - I can assure you that everything reported is completely accurate and I think G&G should be very careful about making suggestions that this is false - I only thank heavens that the family are not on the internet to see this - you really ought to remove your comments - they are hurtful and frankly libellous!

You might also like to know that these same story went into the Mail on Sunday and that every fact of that story and this was checked by a senior reporter at the Mail who spoke directly to the family himself - so is G&G really saying the Mail reporter (who was not freelance) is a sensational money grabbing liar also?

In regard to the story there is another side to it, (other than the one the Council don't want to give, perhaps because it is too damning for them) and that is that the Council refused to provide Mr Smith with any information on
a) the money they claimed that he owed them,
cool.gif the reasons they would not grant him the same protection as any person claiming sickness benefits – particularly considering he was critically ill, nor
c) the reasons that they had made direct deductions from his financial support of something over a thousand pounds, some £20 of which they had accidentally admitted having taken in error before they noticed the other £1000.
I am about as highly qualified in personal financial matters as it is possible to be and have on more than one occasion provided expert evidence to courts on such matters and from what I could see the Council’s only reason for not giving Mr Smith this information was because he did not really owe them money, they should have protected him and they probably did owed him money and lots more than he had ever owed them. The fact is that if the Council had financially disadvantaged Mr Smith in this way then, to quote a local Councillor, ‘how many other residents have also had money wrongly taken from them?’

My guess is that there is a much bigger controversy underlying the treatment of Mr Smith. A controversy that explains why the Council would not give him his own information, will not give it to his estate nor to his duly authorised representative and would instead try to chase a man in a coma whom they had been warned was extremely fragile?

By the way – this was the second time that the Council insisted upon chasing Mr Smith directly over this matter, against his specific instructions and against my warnings about the impact on his health. The first time was only a matter of days before they took him to court over the money they claimed he owed them (a case they withdrew at the court doors when faced with having to explain themselves under my cross examination) and a matter of a few weeks before he went into hospital never to return alive.
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Andy Capp
post Sep 23 2013, 06:00 PM
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I find this all quite shocking and wonder why this wasn't front page news! angry.gif
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ihowgate
post Sep 23 2013, 06:34 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Sep 23 2013, 07:00 PM) *
I find this all quite shocking and wonder why this wasn't front page news! :angry:


A very fair point and one I have asked myself. Supposedly the NWN could not afford to run two stories side by side in the previous weeks edition both criticising the council and they gave the parking issues a higher profile (in my view it is nothing like the same level let alone higher). They then claimed that this story was two weeks old and hence did not deserve higher ranking than page seven this week.

Also note the fact that they have not picked up on the bigger issue which is apparent misappropriation of Mr Smith's money without justification and the fact that the Council waited for him to die - as some sort of excuse for trying to bury that issue with him.

Mr Smith was a truly lovely man who was in my view collateral damage in an issue involving his landlord and the Council. The landlord have been just as unhelpful as the Council. Mr Smith died of a respiratory condition which caused heart failure and the Landlord have admitted that the ceiling in his home which had been crumbling and according to Mr Smith 'the dust had been causing him breathing problems', contained (you guessed it) asbestos. The landlord had moved him out of the flat months after the problem occurred only because the Health and Safety executive deemed it unfit for human habitation, less than two months before he died. This said the landlord knew there was asbestos in the flats from 2009 and had failed to take appropriate safety measures. The landlord promised him a compensation package, which they never paid and now he has died, the landlord claim that he is not entitled to it any longer. The result is that his 84 year old, disabled mother has had to foot the bill for his funeral. As I have pretty much all of this in writing you might have thought the NWN would want to include that in their story but I guess it is not as important as a parking issue, even though the same block of flats still has over 30 other people still living in it. At least the landlord has decided to pull the flats down but that is little compensation to Mr Smith or his family.
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Rowley Birkin
post Sep 23 2013, 06:57 PM
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QUOTE (greenandgrey @ Sep 20 2013, 12:53 PM) *
Do not belive all that you read in the NWN - as Claude says, there are 2 sides to every story and one side is not fronted by a freelance reporter selling a sensationalist story. I doubt that what really happened is as reported


some of it made up do you think
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The Hatter
post Sep 23 2013, 07:03 PM
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Why hasn't this made BBC News?
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Andy Capp
post Sep 23 2013, 07:06 PM
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It is all quite depressing in this day and age that this can happen. We know people make mistakes, but to carry on as they allegedly have is inexcusable. Perhaps things like this are the 'true' cost of austerity Britain under the Conservatives (not that any other local party would be any different). I have heard allegations of the Liberal Democrat controlled town council being less then candid too.
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On the edge
post Sep 23 2013, 07:27 PM
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Presumably WBCs Environmental Health people will be heavily involved as the asbestos issue must affect more than just one flat? As ihowgate says the landlord was well aware of the problem he's laid himself open to prosecution? He still has to pay the estate any compensation and given ihowgate's expertise, I'm sure he'll help them with that.

As the matter had been going on for a fair while and was a serious dispute, can we take it that the ward councillor was involved? They are supposed to be 'our' representatives! In fact, Mr U should be redundant, the Councillors should be the sole source of news should they not?


Rather a lot to this story.


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ihowgate
post Sep 23 2013, 07:56 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Sep 23 2013, 08:06 PM) *
It is all quite depressing in this day and age that this can happen. We know people make mistakes, but to carry on as they allegedly have is inexcusable. Perhaps things like this are the 'true' cost of austerity Britain under the Conservatives (not that any other local party would be any different). I have heard allegations of the Liberal Democrat controlled town council being less then candid too.


To be honest on this point, the Lib Dems did take some action to try to help in the beginning but fell short of actually managing to do anything genuinely helpful and have tended to be too concerned about their special relationship with the Conservatives in central government - 'coalition is a matter of compromise'. This said I do believe that Lib Dem Councillors are being blocked on information disclosure by their own Council so how I could have hoped that they would manage to get the information for Mr Smith was rather naive of me in hind sight.

The Labour party have no power in this town and whilst I kept them informed you only have to look at how the NWN have buried Mr Garvie's investigation into deaths and misconduct (in particular drug dealing) at Two Saints Hostel - that only made page 7 also and should have been front page – and was cut of all the potent material (subsequent updates including threats by the CEO against Mr Garvie have also been shelved as has the fact that the Greenham murder derived from the Two Saints Hostel and that they were warned in advance about the danger posed by this resident) to realise where the real power lies in town.

The fact is that any good democratic system should have a second line of representation so that where the Council fails to live up to requirements the public can obtain justice via another route without needing the money to go to court. Without this the poor never get justice, particularly now legal aid has all but gone. The alternative route to justice ought to be our MP but sadly Richard Benyon repeatedly fails to represent his public in claims against this council. Mr Smith is a classic example but I have so many that I could go on all night.

Sadly corruption is a side effect of party politics and in today’s world of austerity (as you say) where ironically we can spend millions on a public funeral and £170,000 a year on the CEO of the Council’s salary in the same year that the council cut £100,000 of support for disabled children and all crisis loans for the poorest in society at their most vulnerable moments, it takes someone with millions behind them to be as cold hearted as to do nothing for the poor and needy like Mr Smith.

NB Richard Benyon was given access to the full portfolio on the Mr Smith affair on 22nd August with a request for urgent attention and so far we have heard nothing helpful at all out of his office.
Conversely when we put a homeless soldier in front of him - Mr Smith died homeless and had even had his possessions confiscated from him by his landlord and held for supposed non-payment of rent – Mr Benyon managed to instantly muster up a nice new home for the soldier from a social housing landlord sidestepping teh official housing register and thereby jumping the queue that over 4000 other residents were waiting patiently on. Not surprisingly it feels to me like one rule for the poor and another for Mr Benyon's old army mates!

Why hasn't this made BBC news you ask - well with this many important people wanting the story covered up is it really a bigger surprise it actually made page 7 of the NWN.
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On the edge
post Sep 23 2013, 08:20 PM
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Against the facts presented, Mr Smith's case seems to be one of maladministration. This is the province of the Local Government Ombudsman, are you referring this case to him?

From what you are implying, that all political opposition has been neutered in Newbury. That has to suggest other forces are at work. For instance, this hasn't made 'rotten boroughs' in Private Eye. So what or who are you suggesting?


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