Bolton Council used bailiffs 3,000 times to collect parking fines in last year
BAILIFFS have been used nearly 3,000 times in the past year to collect Bolton Council parking fines.
The council used debt collectors more than 11,000 times in the past 12 months for a number of reasons.
Local authorities across England and Wales called in bailiffs in excess of 1.8 million times over the past year and figures for Bolton show they were used 10,272 times to collect from private residences and on 942 occasions at businesses.
The bulk of the call-outs were to enforce council tax debt and, although Bolton Council says the number of cases has fallen, the Citizens Advice Bureau expects it to climb again due to the impact of benefit reforms.
Almost one third of the cases — 2,899 — related to parking fines, the council said.
Of other nearby Greater Manchester authorities, Wigan used bailiffs almost 3,500 times and Salford just under 14,000 times. Richard Wilkinson, chief officer at Bolton CAB, said: “The local authority has their part to play too by making sure debts for council tax and unpaid parking fines are only referred to bailiffs as a very last resort.
“In Bolton, we are working very positively with the local authority to try to reduce the financial problems that people face in the current climate, and, in turn reduce the number of occasions that debts are dealt with by the bailiffs.”
A council spokesman said: “We only use bailiffs as a last resort and when we have tried every other means of recovering the outstanding money.
“Almost a third of this action relates to parking fines and many of these fines apply to people who live outside the borough.
“An individual may also be subject to more than one referral to bailiffs. Although we have a duty to collect all council tax and business rates, we do understand that in the current economic climate there are people who are struggling or unable to pay their bills.
“Before we consider bailiff action we send several letters to residents and businesses to encourage them to contact us to make an arrangement.”
The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request submitted to all 374 local authorities in England and Wales by debt charity the Money Advice Trust.
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