14/08/2013 Look East - West


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the programme tonight: Thousands of people are threatened with bailiffs


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


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


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


abuse the hard shoulder are breaking the law.


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


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


who are struggling to pay their council tax have been threatened


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


anyone affected. We asked the Local Government


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


Government spent more on benefits than on defence, education and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


with mental health problems, or reading and writing difficulties.


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


coming in with these letters, particularly when the additional


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that includes owning up and negotiating with predators, very


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


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


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


situation. If you've been affected by the


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


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


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


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


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


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


witnesses, in particular a mystery caller who contacted them shortly


after the murder. Three months on, and Sharif


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the hope of cleaning vital new information.


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


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


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


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


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


Southwell explains. The hard shoulder is intended for breakdowns


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


points on their licence and �50 fine.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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