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messageWarning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by ted17 May 18, 10:54AM

This is a heads up for anyone who moves house having been driving in Southwark/ED (in my case, moving from one part of SE22 to another). We got a penalty charge notice (for a wrong right turn in a car) in the 2 week gap between moving house and updating our vehicle address records with the DVLA. Southwark sent the PCN to the old address (since they only use DVLA details) - fair enough. We didn't get it obviously, but within 10 days had updated our address at the DVLA to our new one. Southwark then sent every single further reminder, chaser and bit of correspondence to the wrong (old) address, for almost a year - i.e. they didn't bother checking with the DVLA if they were still posting to the correct address or not. They just relied on the initial check they did.

A year on I get a letter from a debt collection agency that Southwark have sold my debt to. Obviously the first thing they do is check my addresss, find the new one, and send me a nasty red-topped letter. I work out how to file an appeal (via the Traffic Court in Northampton) setting out the facts, and showing a screenshot of the DVLA page showing the date I changed the address, and a utility bill proving my residence at the new address.

I assumed Southwark might say "fair enough; we did post out all the reminders, chasers - everything but the first letter - to the wrong address" and let me pay the initial charge. But no, they go to the effort of opposing my appeal, claiming that my utility bill is not proof of address (when it is in any other context, including for proving address to the council themselves) and that the screen grab I provided of the DVLA website is insufficient (what more can I do? Why don't they check direct with the DVLA?!), and failing to mention that they had incorrectly communicated with me for almost a year. Now awaiting the court decision - I have to phone the debt collector every day to find out, because they won't let me know if/when my case has come off hold, and could turn up at any moment to try to take my stuff / clamp my car.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but I'm disappointed that Southwark are so aggressively pursuing a resident for a charge which is more than four times the initial amount, when they are partly at fault and I've given a clear explanation. If they want to squeeze more money out of residents they should be transparent about it and put council tax up.

I also doubt that what they are doing is lawful - I believe they've found a loophole (the change of address) and are exploiting it to the full. So this is a WARNING for anyone driving in Southwark/ED - you MUST update your vehicle log book asap after moving otherwise the first thing you may know about it is a debt collector following up a case that Southwark have sold to them.

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by jimlad48 May 18, 11:05AM

So TLDR - you were in the wrong, you were slow to update your details, Southwark wrote to you at the correct address on the system at the time and now its magically someone elses fault. If you'd been faster at updating DVLA none of this would have happened - the fault is yours, not Southwarks.

Sorry, you're at fault here, and from their point of view, they've heard it all and the 'oh but I moved house' line is up there with 'dog ate my homework' in list of overused excuses that all too often turn out to be untrue. In your case you were unlucky and the process worked as intended. Harsh, but ultimately this is a mistake you could have avoided by being more efficient in fulfilling your personal responsibilities.

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by JohnL May 18, 11:25AM

People don't though as they're busy with other stuff when moving - I took a few years once (no excuse there but I think I got away with it).

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by malumbu May 18, 01:21PM

I'm not commenting on the individual case but enforcement is a matter of proportionality. There are times when a little leeway should be given, or a warning. If I am on my soapbox it seems to case that many decent people make a simple mistake yet others get away with far worse - mine is minor transgressions into a bus lane at a quiet time, yet watch the twots doing 60mph in 20 areas. Once drive in the congestion charge zone on Xmas eve thinking it was a holiday. It's not!

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by Sue May 18, 03:55PM

Sympathies, but did you not get your post redirected from your old address to your new address?

ETA: Or ask the new people at your old address to forward it?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was may 18, 03:58pm by Sue.

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by first mate May 18, 04:12PM

If I have understood, the poster updated DVLA records within two weeks of moving, hardly avoiding his responsibilities! Goodness, after a house move there are so many things to consider that updating DVLA records would be pretty low on most people’s lists.

Think he has been really, really unlucky. That said, technically Southwark have not done anything wrong either, they have simply followed process in the unimaginative,Bureaucratic way we have come to expect.

Agree with Malumbu, a little proportionality would be nice, seeing this for the honest mistake it is, but don’t hold your breath, they care more about the money than they do you.

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by tiddles May 18, 04:27PM

Seems overly heavy handed and a bit of common sense would not go amiss - he allowed to pay the fine rather than the debt that has escalated due to admin

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by ted17 May 18, 04:41PM

Thanks to most respondents. I posted this as a warning to others in case they are in similar situations, as an attempt to a) act as a reminder to people and b) flag how Southwark handle these cases.

I wasn't looking for views on the merits of my case, or for sympathy. @jimlad48 in particular - at no point in my post did I say I wasn't at fault, nor that I was a fortnight late in updating my details. So your post is completely pointless and adds nothing to the thread, nor to the facts. If it makes you feel better though, then that's great, we all need a bit of a pep up at the moment. But even worse, not did your post add nothing, it was also incorrect. You said ""Southwark wrote to you at the correct address on the system at the time". They also then wrote to me several times at the address at the incorrect address - I believe, three times. So they got their comms right on one out of four occasions. But I do appreciate your constructive take on the situation.

On the other point - I did have postal redirect, but found the service very patchy, this wasn't the only thing that didn't get through. In fact it would have been better if I hadn't had it - anything returned to Southwark causes them to double check the address. The fact that it didn't make its way to me - or back to them - means they assumed it had been delivered.

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by JohnL May 19, 09:00AM

Sue Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sympathies, but did you not get your post
> redirected from your old address to your new
> address?
>
> ETA: Or ask the new people at your old address to
> forward it?


LOL in my case I had a mother - forwarded straight away no questions asked for a few years along with loads of other mail.

It isn't until they're gone you realise how you treated them

messageRe: Warning: Southwark Council aggressive penalty charge notice enforcement
Posted by Tipsyleprachauns May 26, 11:05PM

Appeal is useless.

You need to file a ‘Request for Out Of Time Statutory Declaration’ followed by an actual ‘Statutory Declaration’- it’s a sworn document stating you never received the original mail and giving the reason why. Assuming it’s filled in correctly it should be accepted and the original fine re-issued. It will also freeze all enforcement action whilst it’s being processed.

I had a very similar situation a couple years back with TfL. Went through process. They rescinded enforcement and reissued the fine. Catch was they reissued it to the same old wrong address (can’t make it up.) a year later the Bayliffs call me up again... on my wedding day.

Suffice to say, straight on the phone to TfL. They rescinded again and have never bothered me since.


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