14/08/2013 Look East - West


14/08/2013

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the programme tonight: Thousands of people are threatened with bailiffs

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for failing to pay council tax. Many blame changes to the welfare system.

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Police appeal for a mystery caller to come forward in the hunt for the

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killers of a family man. ?NEWLINE to use or not to use - why drivers who

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abuse the hard shoulder are breaking the law.

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And what a difference a year makes. Olympic champion Greg Rutherford

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fails to qualify at the World Good evening. Thousands of people

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who are struggling to pay their council tax have been threatened

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with bailiffs by Peterborough City Council. It follows a change to the

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welfare system which means families on benefits who in the past were

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exempt from council tax now have to pay a proportion of the bill. The

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Citizens Advice Bureau says it's seen a big increase in the number of

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families getting into debt. It is the sign of the times for the

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changing benefits system. A steady stream summoned to court in recent

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weeks for not paying council tax. Some receiving bills for the first

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time. Some say it is not that they will not pay, it is that they

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cannot. People are really struggling. The law says you have a

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certain amount to live on. Out of that, some people are paying �60 in

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council tax, leaving them next to nothing. I am really struggling. I

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am lucky because my dad helped me out sometimes but not everyone has a

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dad like mine. Before April, those on benefits did not have to pay

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council tax but now the Government no longer covers the full amount.

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The council here says it is getting �2.4 million less and like others it

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have to recoup the money. For those who did not make it to court or

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attempt to pay, the council is taking action. This is a copy of the

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letter that has gone out across Peter Brooke. It says they have

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already received a court summons for nonpayment and now the council had

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secured a liability order, meaning further action will be taken. It

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urges you to contact the council and the next seven days or the account

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will be referred to a bailiff company for collection. This is the

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fifth letter that people have had, including a summons to court. I

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think the council will bend over backwards to try and be helpful.

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people have not got the money, where can they get it? Come and talk to

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us. There are options about. We can give them advice. Or probably they

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are not claiming all the benefits they are entitled to. 200 people

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came forward in 24 hours after the bailiff letters went out but

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thousands more have yet to pay. The council says it wants to hear from

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anyone affected. We asked the Local Government

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Minister Brandon Lewis about the changes. He told us that the last

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Government spent more on benefits than on defence, education and

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health combined and that their reforms are a way of ending the

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something for nothing culture and making work pay. But the Citizens

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Advice Bureau in Cambridge told me earlier it's also seen many people

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left confused and distressed. have. In fact, I was working with

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the client an hour ago who had had that exact problem. It varies from

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council to counsel. In Cambridge city they have held the council tax

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benefit at 100%, where as in South Cambridge there is an 8% reduction

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and I believe in Huntingdon it is a higher reduction. What this is doing

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is taping people who are struggling just about to make ends meet over

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the edge and into debt. One of our big worries is if they turn to

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payday lenders, then the debt spiral can rapidly get out of control.

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you think part of the problem is that because councils are very much

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doing their own thing with this, people do not know where they stand?

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I think that is very true. With any change in benefits it takes a while

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before the letters go out and are understood. Particularly for people

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with mental health problems, or reading and writing difficulties.

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And it does make people very worried. So we get more clients

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coming in with these letters, particularly when the additional

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bedroom tax came in. Do you think the Government needs to rethink

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these benefit changes? I am not sure I can answer that because I am an

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adviser here. What I would say, from what they know about the universal

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benefit that is coming in over the next couple of years, one of the

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things that really needs to be thought about again is the idea that

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all the benefits are going to be lumped together, and they are going

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to be paid in one lump every month. And people are going to be expected

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to budget. The Citizens Advice Bureau cannot pay council tax bills

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for people. You don't have money for that. What can you do to help?

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first thing we can do to help is try and get a clear picture of a

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client's debt situation, so that a payment plan is set up. Very often

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that includes owning up and negotiating with predators, very

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often with local councils on council tax arrears, but also on occasion

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negotiating with bailiffs to calm things down. -- with creditors. Then

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we can get an agreement in place to help the client out of the debt

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situation. If you've been affected by the

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changes to council tax benefits, particularly if you've received a

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bailiff's letter we'd like to hear from you. The details are on the

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screen. "We're closing in on them." The

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words today of detectives hunting robbers who killed a man in his own

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home. Sharif Demirsay was stabbed in front of his family in Kempston back

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in May. Today police were back in the area to make a fresh appeal for

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witnesses, in particular a mystery caller who contacted them shortly

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after the murder. Three months on, and Sharif

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Demirsay's home in Kempson remains boarded up. It was here on May the

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14th that the 65-year-old grandfather was stabbed to death by

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a gang of robbers. CCTV recorded that night shows three men calmly

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walking towards the house, then just minutes later, the same men are

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captured running away. Police say they have had a good response to

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public appeals but need one call in particular to contact them again.

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have had some calls but we do need people to come forward with more

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information. Some of those calls, I believe, are the same person. And

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the information is crucial that they are giving and I really want to

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encourage that person in particular to call us back and have the

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confidence to talk to us in person anonymously. The gang stole gold

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jewellery and �1000 in cash. The murder weapon has not yet been

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found. From the information that we have started to get in, people do

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know who is responsible for this. The net is closing in and we have a

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number of names of people that we are looking at closely but we need

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people to be brave enough to come forward and do the right thing, so

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we can get these people charged and locked up. A man arrested when they

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after the murder has been released without charge. Three other men

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remain on bail. The �10,000 reward has been offered for information

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leading to the killers. And today police have returned to the scene in

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the hope of cleaning vital new information.

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Now, do you know when it's safe to use the hard shoulder? In the last

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year the Highways Agency introduced a new system on a stretch of the M1

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allowing motorists to use the hard shoulder as an extra lane at certain

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times. But using the lane incorrectly is against the law and

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could land drivers with a fine or points on their licence as Fae

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Southwell explains. The hard shoulder is intended for breakdowns

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and emergencies only. It is a dangerous place, as this dramatic

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footage shows. Luckily the family in this broken down car were behind the

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safety barriers. On the M1 through Bedfordshire the rules are not so

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rigid. In peak periods, traffic is allowed on the hard shoulder to ease

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congestion, but only when the signs indicate that it is safe. At other

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times the usual rules apply but it seems not all motorists are getting

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the message. We recently had a vehicle that drove down the hard

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shoulder and struck a broken down vehicle. When the police arrived and

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questioned that driver, it was a taxi and he thought it was a

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dedicated taxi lane that he could drive down. In the control centre,

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they monitor the flow of traffic. Technology allows them to open and

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close the hard shoulder remotely using signs on the overhead signals.

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A Red Cross means it is closed but some drivers are ignoring the signs.

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You are putting your life at risk and the lives of other motorists. If

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we have not told you to do it, there will be a reason why not. That could

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be because there are emergency vehicles, are broken down vehicle,

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or daybreak on the hard shoulder that is not allowing you to drive

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down it. Tony has been patrolling the M1 for eight years and he

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remembers one near miss that nearly killed him. I was working in a

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section of motorway that is managed motorway. We were on the hard

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shoulder, which was closed at the time. A lorry literally came right

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up to the taper, squashed one of the traffic cones, which went flying

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into the air and we literally ran for safety. Police are now planning

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to get tough. Anyone caught driving illegally on the hard shoulder faces

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points on their licence and �50 fine.

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A warning has been issued to swimmers after a 14-year-old girl

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from Northamptonshire was swept 50 yards out to sea. The teenager was

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caught in a riptide at Sea Palling in Norfolk yesterday afternoon.

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Lifeguards had noticed her walking with a friend along the sand bar

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near a flagged swimming zone and managed to pull her to safety.

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swam out as fast as they could, obviously. A man immediately got the

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girl off him because he was being pushed under water. I through her my

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tube, clipped on from behind, reassured her, told her she would be

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OK, and that we would get back to shore as quickly as possible.

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Luton station is the latest in the region to install electric car

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charging points to encourage commuters to charge up while they're

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on the train. Two charging points costing �28,000 in total are now

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available at the multistorey car park. Half the cost has been met by

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train company First Capital Connect. Charge points have been installed at

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