Harry is 78 years old, and lives a mile from Northampton Town Centre. That's not his real name by the way, he at this stage wants to remain anonymous. He is very angry about how Northampton Borough Council has treated him. He is also at odds to understand why the council have singled him out for such despicable treatment. In addition to his advanced years Harry is also registered disabled, and to make life that little bit more difficult for him in his old age he has cancer.
But Harry like many Northampton born sons who have seen and battled against so much in their lives is still an independent soul, he refuses to accept his disability and and just gets on with life, therefore it cut me to the core when he has told me on more than one occasion since his troubles with NBC began "why can't the council just leave me alone and let me be, I will be dead soon enough, then I won't cause anyone any problems"
Harry's troubles started in August when he contacted me to explain that the County Council had sent him a letter, in fact a removal order, threatening to remove his motorcycle trailer from outside his house because the Borough Council had decided that it was dangerous, and declared it to be a "building container"
The building container as stated above turned out in fact to be a small trailer which at one time belonged to his old motorbike, but on which he now kept his electric bicycle. Being disabled his electric bicycle is now his only form of mobility. He uses this environmentaly friendly mode of transport to get him down to the market and back to pick up his veg and to do his other shopping. His disability and his daily medication mean that a normal mobility scooter just doesn't work for him as he gets nauseous when seated so low. The bicycle was therefore kept chained to the trailer to stop it being stolen because the three high stone steps up to his front door from the street made it impossible for him to lift the heavy bike indoors.
Surely NBC and in the first instance NCC wouldn't be so cruel as to take Harry's trailer away thus leaving him nowhere to secure his bicycle, his only means of transport and independence? So after Harry had contacted me I contacted the County Council and they kindly agreed to extend by one month the time on the removal order. They then also said that even if another order was issued, we would then have another 30 days thereafter to remove it. Time enough for us all to come up with a solution, or so we thought!
But the shameless corporate entity that is now Liberal Democrat controlled Northampton Borough Council had other ideas. whilst we were busy trying to come up with a solution for Harry, they come up with a new solution themselves to the problem, they changed their mind on Harry's trailer being a "building container" and decided that it was now a "vehicle" and as a consequence having been thwarted at their first attempt to remove it they now contacted the ELVIS abandoned vehicle scheme,(End of Life Vehicle Impound Scheme) also run by NCC and this time arranged for it to be taken away for crushing.
ELVIS then turned up one morning with no warning, but Harry put up a good fight, he sat on his trailer and pleaded for them to leave him and his trailer alone. In the end the Police were called and this helpless old man, disabled, distressed and suffering from cancer was removed from the trailer and off it went to the crusher. They left him no paperwork, no explanation as to why it was being taken away or to where and as a consequence a tearful Harry called me to ask one more to "please please" intervene.
The Borough Council then started to become very officious, they did promise to send someone from private sector housing round to talk to Harry and also suggested they might contact Care and Repair to see what they could do (neither of which came anywhere near) but as far as they were concerned by removing the trailer they had done nothing wrong.
I therefore submitted an official complaint on Harry's behalf, which also fell on deaf ears, I then raised the complaint to the next level asking them why they had failed to cooperate with NCC to find a solution to the problem rather than simply acting in such a crass fashion and in doing so denying an old man of his mobility?
But they stuck to their guns, nothing to do with them they said Elvis is run by NCC and if we had a complaint against them or the Police then that also had nothing to do with them, even though they admit that they instigated all of the aforementioned actions in the first instance.
We also pointed out to them that other trailers such as one in Fetter Street, has been parked in a restricted place every day for ten years? Why no action there? And that there were far more obstructive and dangerous obstacles all around the area? So was it simply easier for them to pick on a defenceless elderly man than say a corporate business?
In desperation and in an attempt to get the Council to see sense I then brought the case up with the Councils Chief Executive, surely he could see what a PR disaster it would be for the Council to have acted so cruelly against such an indefensible old man? Surely the council could see that finding a way forward would be cheaper in the long run than fighting a complaint?
But still all to no avail, My stage two complaint came back with none of our questions and complaints answered to any level of satisfaction and the letter then said that if Harry wished he could make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.
He will, with my full support. but why does the Council want to act and to be seen to have acted in such a disgraceful fashion? I pointed out to them very early on that there was a local authority yard just across the road from Harry's house and with a modicum of common sense they could have agreed with Harry that he could chain his bike up there out of harms way and then every one would have been happy. But Northampton Borough Council it seems doesn't do solutions, it simply bullies its residents including the elderly and puts on it's big hat of officialdom and wherever possible passes the buck and reverts once again to collective BSE (Blame Someone Else)
So perhaps at tomorrow nights Council meeting the whole Liberal Democrat Council should stand up and take a bow and lap up the praise for their latest victory in the war against such dangerous and malicious criminal classes such as Harry.
As the title above asks, Have they no shame?
(Tomorrow, part 3 Evicted by any means possible)
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