A PENSIONER is demanding compensation from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council after accusing the authority of "putting me through 17 months of hell" over a £25 parking fine – which spiralled to more than £390.
Avril Kick, aged 66, pictured, of Fernwood Drive, Leek, said she has been made ill and traumatised by the authority, which sent sent bailiffs to her house several times.
The problem started in September 2012 when Mrs Kick received a £25 fine for parking slightly over a white parking bay line on Stockwell Street car park, in Leek.
She received a letter from the council with a number to pay the fine by telephone.
This was paid via her Halifax card. A few weeks later the council said the fine had increased as she had not paid it. Mrs Kick went to the bank where a statement showed that £25 had been taken from her account.
However, the council again responded by saying the money had not been paid.
After months of telephone calls and visits to the council offices, Mrs Kick received a letter from bailiffs who said they were acting for the council. The matter then went before Northampton County Court, with the cost now totalling £95.44. Mrs Kick said she again contacted the council asking where it had put her money.
In September 2013 another bailiff's letter appeared – this time the total was £249.04. A few weeks later another arrived, for £317.64, tand in November another demanded £390.01
Three weeks ago bailiffs arrived to take her car away for payment. Now, 17 months later, after approaching the Local Government Ombudsman, Mrs Kick has received a letter from the council saying it had investigated the matter further and had found the payment in another account.
Mrs Kick said: "When I made the payment I sent it to the number it stated on the letter.
"I have been hounded for 17 months with letters and bailiffs. It has cost me hundreds of pounds in mobile telephone calls and travelling, on one occasion to Stoke.
"Yet I have not even received an apology. Staff at the council would not listen to me; they just wanted more and more money from me. This has been a terrible experience and it has made me suffer with my nerves and also anxiety. The day they called to collect my car was the same day I was told my daughter had to have a heart operation. I was terrified I would not be able to visit her.
"They have spent hundreds of pounds of council taxpayers' money paying bailiffs and going through courts when they had my money all the time. I want compensation of a least £1,000 for all the harassment and trauma this has caused, along with all the expense I have had.
"Late last year I was told to visit the CAB in Leek, which then advised me to contact the Local Government Ombudsman, which I did. They have been brilliant and have helped to sort this out.
"The council is the servant of the people and should be there to help us, instead of harassing members of the community.
"It states in the last letter they had investigated the matter further and found the money in another account.
"Why was it not investigated months earlier instead of rushing to the county court and employing bailiffs at the taxpayers' expense?"
A SPOKESMAN for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council said: "The council has been working since January last year to try and trace the payment including asking Mrs Kick to provide evidence of the payment on numerous occasions.
"We have given Mrs Kick every opportunity to supply this information and have put statutory processes on hold while awaiting this information.
"Mrs Kick did provide the council with a receipt number on January 23 this year and we were then able to find the payment and close the case without further delay. It is regrettable that this reference number was not supplied at an earlier date as this would have enabled the issue to be resolved sooner.
"The problem occurred because the payment was made to Stoke City Council's automated payment number rather than the Staffordshire Moorlands number detailed on the Parking Charge Notice.
"This meant that although Mrs Kick's bank statement showed a payment made via an automated telephone transaction, all the council could confirm was that we had not received it until the relevant receipt number was supplied last week."