From the department of “There’ll Always Be An England”

Breaking news from this weekend’s Telegraph . . . .

Council sends in bailiffs over 90p debt

By Stewart Payne

Last Updated: 2:05am GMT 13/01/2007

A woman who overlooked 90p when settling business rates of more than £700 was confronted by bailiffs who closed her bistro.

Customers waiting to be served were told to go
elsewhere and the chef was ordered to stop cooking as the bailiffs
threatened to seize equipment unless the outstanding amount was paid
together with a further £183.10 in costs.

Lynda Davis, 47, who runs the Courtyard Restaurant in
Havant, Hants, said yesterday that she was shocked at such a
heavy-handed approach.

She said she thought she had
settled a demand for £725.90 owed to Havant council by cheque. But she
mistakenly omitted the 90p. After writing to her, the council asked a
debt collecting agency, Equita, to recover the outstanding sum.

Miss Davis said she was unaware she was in arrears until the bailiffs arrived.

“It was total surprise when the bailiffs arrived at the restaurant,” she said.

“Customers who had ordered but not yet eaten were chucked out. They told my chef to stop cooking and they closed the place.

“They said they would not be leaving until I had paid
up and then began making collection orders on various pieces of
equipment like my coffee machine.”

Her staff could not reopen until a card payment for £184 was authorised over the telephone.

She said: “I am angry about it because this sort of thing can really hurt the reputation of a restaurant.”

A spokesman for the council, which went to court to
get a liability order to recover the money, said Miss Davis was written
to several times about the outstanding amount.

The debt collection agency has been told to repay Miss Davis the amount she paid, minus the 90 pence.

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