Leicester City Council and North Tyneside Council have both faced some of the most intensive lockdown measures in their constituencies over the past several months, but both local authorities have still seen the value in resuming some form of enforcement activity in recent weeks. Leicester are currently going through a re-engagement process with visits set to begin in November, whereas in the North East, parking solutions have formally begun the unwinding process.
These are not isolated incidents, with many councils now resuming enforcement action. But for those who have still not resumed any activity, at a time when there are well-publicised financial constraints, the question must be, why not? If the hardest-hit areas can resume safely and effectively, there is no reason why other councils should be afraid to follow suit.
Leicester City council began to issue re-engagement letters from the start of October. Since then they have begun issuing statutory reminders and finals as well as non-statutory reminders. It is hoped that the local courts will resume hearings for bulk liability order applications before the new year. Bristow & Sutor now have permission to proactively contact customers by phone and text message with business as usual activity resuming from early November. It has been agreed that enforcement agents can resume re-engagement for all debts, including parking and sundry debt collection, outstanding Council Tax, NNDR and statutory enforcement activity. As per CIVEA and MOJ guidance, we will not begin customer contact until after 30 days from their reminders have elapsed.
North Tyneside Council, in response to the impact of COVID-19, suspended the recovery of parking debt in advance of the nationwide legislation coming into force back in March. Following central government’s guidance that Enforcement Agents could resume face to face action from August, they along with other local authorities in the region, decided the time is now right to restart the process of collecting parking debt. It has been agreed that Bristow & Sutor will re-commence the process associated with active warrants currently held and that a further letter offering the motorist an opportunity to enter into a payment plan is sent first in any other circumstances.
In almost all cases where Bristow & Sutor has resumed some form of activity, outstanding debts being discussed are from before the coronavirus pandemic began. Upon resuming activity, all clients are provided a copy of the latest Bristow & Sutor safe working procedures, to ensure what can and cannot be expected is understood and adhered to by all involved. This includes insight into the PPE training EAs have undertaken, the methods we are adopting to ensure the vulnerable are protected and all the other ways we are conducting ourselves safely and successfully.
Bristow & Sutor hosted two webinars this month discussing some of the findings, successes and lessons learned after the recent return to enforcement. Our ‘Recommencing enforcement visits...one month on’ sessions were held virtually in early October. For more insight into some of the topics discussed, view our recent blog on Chris Pembleton from Nottingham Revenues and Benefits, who shared his belief that other councils should begin sending re-engagement communications if they not already doing so.
Bristow & Sutor remains committed as ever to its ethos of being Cool, Calm and Collected.