A LOCAL resident was left stunned after Enfield Council accused him of owing £800 in council tax on a London property – despite him having lived in Redditch his whole life.
Gary Moore received a letter on July 10 from the London council demanding that he clear ‘his’ debt.
It stated that bailiffs would be sent to his home if he was unable to do so.
At first Mr Moore, who is disabled, thought it was a scam, and ignored the demand, thinking it was someone after his bank details.
“I’ve never even been to London, let alone lived there,” said Mr Moore, aged 52.
“I haven’t even set foot outside of Redditch for more than 15 years due to having a severe spinal condition and sky high blood pressure.”
However in the end the Headless Cross resident decided to ring up Enfield Council and quote the reference number given on the letter.
“I couldn’t believe it when the operator confirmed it was a legitimate debt and that I would need to pay up soon to prevent further action,” he said.
“I spoke to their debt collection team and told them they had got the wrong Gary Moore, that it was a case of mistaken identity, but they were having none of it.
“I was so worried about the situation I thought it would give me a heart attack.”
He responded by emailing across his Redditch Borough Council rent books which covered the last 20 years.
To provide further evidence he also sent his tenancy agreement which proved he was telling the truth.
“But they completely ignored my emails because on August 4 I received a letter from the bailiffs stating they were coming to take my possessions,” he added.
The removal notice read – ‘we would prefer that you were in attendance should your goods be removed’ – which prompted a terrified Mr Moore to stay in doors out of fear the bailiffs might break in.
“I contacted West Mercia Police but they said it was a civil matter and there was nothing they could do.
“I felt completely powerless.”
In desperation Mr Moore contacted the Redditch Standard and we got in touch with Enfield Council after seeing the evidence Mr Moore had provided.
It was enough for the Londoners to drop the entire case.
An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “Following a case of mistaken identity compounded by an administrative error we pursued Mr Moore for a debt he had not incurred.
“We have apologised wholeheartedly to him for the distress this has caused over the last month and have instructed the bailiff’s company to stop pursuing this matter immediately.
“We are looking to see how this happened and will be taking steps to prevent a recurrence.”
Mr Moore believes the only good thing to come from this story is that it might stop others from being falsely accused.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” he said.