Computer error sends Forest Gate pensioner to court

A pensioner has received an apology from Newham Council after a computer glitch meant she was summonsed to court over unpaid council tax – �despite �setting up a direct debit four times and �making payments.

Carole Collier, 67, from Capel Road, Forest Gate, said: “If this can happen to me, a reasonably agile pensioner, I dread to think how many other elderly people have been intimidated by Newham’s �intransigent and threatening attitude.”

Since April, Carole received three summons from the town hall and was threatened with legal �action because it said she had not paid her council tax.

This was despite setting up the direct debit four times and eventually twice making payments.

Newham Council said that it was breaking in a new computer �system and the intial problems have been resolved.

A spokesman said: “More than 28,000 Newham residents pay their council tax by direct debit.

“Regrettably in Ms Collier’s case, there was a problem when a new software system was introduced. Her problem has now been �resolved and the summons and costs have been removed. We are sorry for any distress this may have caused.”

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Carole’s original council tax payment was not processed after she switched banks but she was only notified two months later when she received a summons �requesting the money in seven days.

Carole phoned the council to set up a direct debit but, after checking bank statements, discovered that her payment had still not been processed. She set up a further three direct debits.

Carole then went on holiday and when she returned found her case had gone to court.

Carole paid her council tax twice. She was only compensated and cleared of the court charges after sending two letters and paying a visit to the �offices in Romford Road.

Carole said: “I still do not know how much council tax I owe as �everything is conducted over the telephone and although I have asked for a copy of their findings in writing, to date I have received nothing.”