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Gargrave man claims council is trying to ‘force him out’
9:00am Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
A Gargrave man who owes Craven District Council more than £6,000 told magistrates he believed he was being forced from his home.
Stephen Cuthbert, 64, appeared at the Skipton court on Friday as a fines defaulter after missing a payment on a fine imposed in August, 2005.
The court heard that Cuthbert, of Eshton Road, had been ordered to pay £16,792 in fines and costs after failing to comply with council planning enforcement notices.
He had so far paid £10,500 in 22 payments of £150, as agreed, and three of the lesser sum of £100.
After missing a payment in July and failing to pay the correct amount on the other payments, a warrant for his arrest had been issued, the court was told. Cuthbert, a retired teacher, told magistrates he had been in a desperate situation and that he was waiting for a cashed-in life insurance policy to be paid into his bank account.
He said he was unemployed, his wife had fallen ill and that the roof on his house needed repairing. He had phoned the fines officer to explain his payment would be delayed, but that the officer was on holiday.
“I am struggling with this fine. It used to be £100 a month, but they wanted me to pay more.
“That Knowles-Fitton [Chris Knowles-Fitton, council leader] says if you can’t afford to live in Craven, you should sell up and move out.
“I think that is what he is forcing me to do.” He added: “If they had been reasonable and tolerant, I would not be here today.”
Cuthbert asked if he could pay £100 per month and turned down an offer by magistrates to adjourn for a month and to consider paying off a large sum once his insurance policy had been deposited on the grounds it would take him five years to pay it off.
Magistrates ordered that he return to paying £150 per month and gave him 28 days to pay the first instalment.