"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Archive for November, 2009

Dealing with bailiffs – a rough guide

There are unfortunately many sources of debts in which people are ripped off by interest rates, or persecuted for lack of cash. Many debt collection agencies and bailiffs work in tandem. Indeed, often they are just different branches of the same firm both use threatening letters to try to intimidate people.

Don’t panic

You don’t have to make it easy for them.   If in any doubt get advice. The debt collection agencies often threaten bailiff action. They can never use bailiffs without first taking you to court and obtaining a judgement on the debt. Even then, bailiffs are only used where you don’t keep to the terms of the judgement/repayment agreement. It’s easy to get this varied if your circumstances change, e.g. you lose your job or something.

If you decide you are able and willing to pay off a debt, you can go back to the original creditor. Paying through the bailiffs will cost you more. Only agree to amounts you can afford.

You don’t have to let them in

Bailiffs cannot break into your home to take away goods to recover the debt. They first need to have “walking possession” – either by you having let them in previously, or by having previously gained “peaceable entry”. But they can climb in through an open window. If you live in a flat in a converted house, you could have problems. The street door counts as the front door – so if a neighbour lets them through that threshold, it’s arguable they can then break down the door to your flat. This doesn’t apply in a block of flats with an entry-phone system.

Don’t be intimidated

They’ll lie and say they will attend with the police who can break down your door. Not true -the police may attend, but only to prevent a ‘breach of the peace’, I.e. any threat of illegal violence by either side. 3ut if you offer no violence, there’s nothing the police can do. If cops threaten to break your door down, ring their station and report them’.

You can’t be jailed

Bailiffs will say that if you don’t pay they’ll send the debt back with the recommendation that you be jailed. This is untrue for most debts.

It is only possible to get jailed for non-payment of Council Tax but then only if there’s an extra court case and the judge rules you are “wilfully” refusing to pay, and that there’s no other way of getting what you owe (like from your benefits or wages).

Don’t be fleeced

Many bailiffs will inflate their costs by sending extra letters or charging you for visits to remove property that never actually occurred. They’ll even charge more for these things than are allowed in law. Bailiffs are money-hungry parasites. All bailiffs (except court bailiffs) make their money by collecting a debt quickly. They get a portion of the total debt by way of payment from the council or credit card company. That is why they will demand a higher level of repayment than you can afford, the longer it takes to collect the debt the more it costs them.


  1. It’s usually best to avoid getting into debt if possible.
  2. Don’t be ashamed: being harassed over debts is not a private failing, but a public scandal affecting tens of millions of people.
  3. The above is only meant as a very rough guide. If you have problems visit your local CAB/advice centre or see a solicitor for free. Tel. CAB 0870 1264030 Law Centre 8808 5354



Save Norwich Day Centres for Older People – Public Meeting


Tuesday 8th December 2009 from 7pm, second public meeting in support of the campaign to save the Silver and Essex Rooms Day Centres for older people in Norwich.

The meeting at the Vauxhall Centre will be chaired by former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, now representing the Carers Forum.

Kings Lynn ‘Marina’ Plans Scuppered.

A cause for celebration we think…



King’s Lynn could have to wait at least another decade before work begins on its marina, it emerged last night – as opponents claimed the scheme had been kicked into the long grass.

The news is the second major blow for the town in as many weeks, after the College of West Anglia confirmed it would not be building a new campus on the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area.

And it comes days after it was revealed the future of RAF Marham could be under threat from a review of defence spending, in which five of the RAF’s 19 large bases could close.

West Norfolk Council wanted to put a 250-berth marina, along with hundreds of waterfront apartments and a hotel complex, on the town’s Boal Quay.

Consultants said a silted-up bend in the River Nar could be dredged out for a yacht basin, with lock gates separating it from the River Ouse.

East of England Development Agency officials estimated it would create 350 jobs and bring £13m a year to Lynn’s economy.

But regional development funding, which would have helped towards the cost of the scheme, has dried up because of the credit crunch. And now a report to councillors warns a shortfall the council would have to cover has increased from £4.1m to £10.4m.

Work on the scheme should wait until the economy recovers or a partner willing to fund the scheme can be found, the report says.

Council leader Nick Daubney said: “What the report does, from the council’s point of view, is refer to the economic reality. We’re saying we can’t have the marina as quickly as we wanted, because it depends on other developments that depend on housebuilding.

“Originally, we wanted it devel-oped in four years; realistically, we’re now looking at eight or 10.”

Mr Daubney said the council would continue acquiring the land it would need for the marina scheme, such as the grain silos near the Millfleet, so the scheme could eventually go ahead.

But Dr Ian Mack, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group on the council, said: “Looking at the report the council has issued, it’s very clearly in the deep long grass.

“I have been pressing the leader of the council for months to stop the marina development. We believe there are better ways of doing regeneration in that area than a 250-berth marina.

“It was patently obvious to Liberal Democrats that in the current economic climate it was madness to press ahead and would have cost council tax payers dear to further overstretch the council finances.

“I am angry that it has taken so long to make this decision and that so much staff time and energy has been wasted when it could have been put to better use. The Conservative leader and his cabinet have got a lot of explaining to do.”

Some nearby residents opposed the marina. Proposals to divert the River Nar through Hardings Pits – a doorstep green nature reserve created in 2004 with a £100,000 English Nature grant – brought angry protests from the Hardings Pits Community Association.

Last night, its secretary Roger Turff said: “It rather looks like the marina might now be off the radar for some time to come.

“A lot of people in Lynn are going to be grateful there’s now time for some more careful thought about it.”


College Bus Fare Rises U-Turn.

Common sense at last!

Thousands of Norfolk parents, already under financial pressure from the recession, will not now face a big rise in the fees they have to pay to bus their teenager children to college.

As previously reported in the EDP, Norfolk county council, which has a multi-million pound funding shortfall in the next few years, had wanted to halve the annual post-16 transport subsidy – which would have led to a fare hike from £334 to £501 per student from next September.

But last night the county council announced a U-turn on the move, which had been branded “short-sighted” by college bosses who said it would have a “disproportionate impact” on young people from poorer families.

Shelagh Hutson, cabinet member for children’s services, yesterday announced the decision to maintain the annual subsidy for the service at current levels.

After considering the possible impact on the uptake of post-16 education, Mrs Hutson asked officers to look elsewhere in the budget for savings.

She has written to colleges and sixth forms to thank them for their representations and to let them know that the proposal will not be pursued.

She said: “I absolutely understand people’s concerns about this issue and equally why we had to look very closely at the level of subsidy this service receives. However, having listened to representations from across the community, I have decided that the current level of transport subsidy should not be reduced and that we will therefore continue to invest very heavily in this area for the benefit of our children.

“While it was right that we leave no stone unturned in our quest for budget savings, I am convinced this is the right decision at this time and have asked officers to look again for another solution to close the gap we face. This will be an extremely challenging task, but it is one on which we must deliver.

“This budget round is clearly very difficult and everyone should be aware that the outlook for the years ahead is extremely bleak, with the threat of severe cuts in public spending in the future.”

Shane Mann, president of the Students’ Union at City College, Norwich, said it was “fantastic news” the subsidy would not be cut.

He added: “We’re extremely pleased and glad that the county council has decided to do a U-turn on this proposal and realised the effect it would’ve had on education in Norfolk.”

Post-16 transport is currently subsidised to the tune of £4m a year, with help given to more than 6,000 youngsters to travel to sixth forms and colleges. The level of subsidy in terms of bus passes and fuel costs in Norfolk is greater than that offered by most of its neighbouring authorities.

Despite a budget increase of £2.7m for 2010/11, increasing the total Children’s Services net revenue budget to £169m, a shortfall of £10.5m remains. The department is facing tough choices for the year ahead, largely because of the increased costs of looking after the county’s vulnerable children.


If Your Landlord Starts Trying To Give You ‘Employment Advice’….You Know Why!

Communities secretary John Denham has called on social landlords to fight worklessness among their tenants.

Announcing a new £40 million job and skills drive as part of the Working Neighbourhood fund on Friday, Mr Denham said one of the most effective ways of reaching out to the long-term unemployed was through social landlords, who already had relationships with their tenants.

The additional money will encourage 61 councils to prepare unemployed people for the workplace. Social landlords can act as a ‘doorway’ in these interventions, Mr Denham said.

Housing minister John Healey added: ‘There is scope for social landlords to do more to support tenants. We know that councils and housing associations tend to be trusted by their tenants and that many already provide advice services and want to do more.

‘As part of their service to tenants I want to see more landlords offering the “better off in work” calculations, which tell people how much better off they’d be in a job and give them more confidence in making the leap from welfare to work.’

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘Housing associations are increasingly recognised as key community anchors. They have the trust of their residents and are always working in partnership to provide meaningful employment and training opportunities.’