A single mum on Universal Credit said an ‘intimidating’ bailiff demanded she hand over almost £400 without warning after a family day out.
Jemma Martin, 31, had visited Skegness for an August bank holiday day out when her then-boyfriend and her two children, aged four and 18-months-old at the time.
However, when they arrived at North Parade car park, they were not able to open the doors properly in the space to get her youngsters and pram in and out of the car safely, the Liverpool Echo reports.
With no parent and child parking spaces available, Miss Martin, from Nottingham, left her vehicle slightly over the white line to make sure there was enough room to unload the car safely, only to later receive the parking ticket.
She has disputed the fine with East Lindsey District Council since then. However, on the morning of April 4, 2022, Miss Martin was faced with a visit from the bailiffs, LincsLive reports.
She said: “I have had the bailiff at my door asking for £394. But I wasn’t financially in a position to pay that.”
When Miss Martin told the debt collector she could not pay, he allegedly threatened to take her car, but could not because it was financed. He then made another threat, according to Miss Martin.
She said: “He threatened that he could come into my home and take my things”, adding that when she said she would not let him in, he told her he would force his way into the house.
She continued: “I had a bloke in front of me telling him he could break into my home and take my things. I was very intimidated, he was quite a big bloke.”
On a form that the debt collector left, it stated Miss Martin had paid voluntarily, but she said she paid because she felt “threatened.” She added: “I am five foot two inches, what could I do?”
Miss Martin works two hours a day as a midday supervisor at a local school, and the rest of her pay is topped up with Universal Credit payments. She is worried about how she will pay the fine, and she has labeled what happened as “disgraceful.”
She said: “£400 is a massive chunk of my monthly allowance, it’s about half. I have got my mum I can rely on, but that’s to borrow, not to have. I’ll have to pay it back, so it will be a while until I’m on top of things.”
Miss Martin says she was told by East Lindsey District Council the bailiff officer may not have acted appropriately.
A spokesperson for East Lindsey District Council said: “Following due process the lady in question was written to four times and no responses were received to those communications. Following this lack of response the matter was passed to the bailiffs who again wrote to the lady twice and no response was received to these letters.
“As is normal in these cases the lady was visited by bailiffs and that has elicited a complaint being made to the bailiff company that will be investigated by them using their internal processes.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.