Letter: I can sympathise with Public bar owner

This letter sent to the Star was written by Ted Fowler, Sheffield, S5

Thursday, 21st November 2019, 5:58 am
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 6:48 am
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I have just read the story of the plight of the new owner of the Public Bar, beneath the Town Hall, how they are going to put his rates up some 730%. I can sympathise with him. I had a similar experience with these kind of people. I’m talking about the old Poll Tax,remember that?

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Well when I was working I was a contractor, so, come the end of a contract I might be unemployed for 2-3-4 weeks or so before another contract came along. I had three kids so I had to sign on and claim Social Security. So I would do everything by the book, sign on the dole, they would give you a multi-pack form to fill in, then you went along to the Social Security where they would check your forms then I would make a point of saying, am I on benefits now?

So from paying around £83 per week rent I would pay the required amount which was something like £4-38 per week. Then months and months later I get a bill for my Poll Tax arrears of over £1,000. I ring the Town Hall up to query it and got this woman on the other end who I can only describe as snooty. I tried to explain to her what had happened but she was adamant I had to pay it. I went to the dole office and the Social Security office and got all the dates when I was working and when I was signing on, as proof then rang her again. I thought that was it but no, she told me I was too late and that I ha it to pay. She said it was my responsibility to notify the Town Hall when I’m out of work. I was fuming. I said to her, so you are a Civil Servant and work for the government right?

Yes, she said, and the Social Security are also Civil Servant, right? I said so when I stopped paying you £83 per week and payed you £4-38 instead, did you not think that my circumstances must have changed? She went quiet for a while then said it’s my responsibility to notify them. I said, why did you not ring them and ask if I was claiming benefits to which she replied, we’re not allowed to. So for the sake of a 10p phone call I have to pay you over a £1,000. I rest my case. It’s true what they say, if some people had a brain they’d be dangerous. I still paid it but I wonder how many other people have been scammed like this for the sake of a 10p phone call.