Stubbs Gazette being used to try get paid


Sligo Champion - 25th January 2012

SLIGO COUNTY COUNCIL is using Stubbs Gazette in an effort to collect long overdue fire charges.

The revelation came at the January monthly meeting on Monday last in answer to a question from Clr. Joe Queenan asking if the council had private debt collectors collecting overdue accounts.

Head of Finance Marie Leydon said the council had engaged the services of Stubbs Gazette in collecting long overdue fire charges.

She explained that at the beginning of 2011, the council had over €700,000 outstanding in Fire Debtors from an accumulation of years since 2003. 162 debtors have been identified where amounts were long overdue and where the council had previously issued bills, reminders and solicitor warning letters.

"Our reasoning to engage Stubbs was that the name is universally recognised and other local authorities had experienced that the use of their demand letters had led to a number of arrears cases being cleared," she said.

Director of Services Dorothy Clarke pointed out that the Fire Service did not charge for chimney fires or house fires but for attendance at emergencies such as road traffic accidents and oil spills.

Clr. Queenan said he thought that the manager could have at least told councillors about engaging Stubbs Gazette. He feared this would now be extended to water charges.

Clr. David Cawley said councillors were not involved in the council's "operational matters" and he was "not going to get on the backs of officials" if they were trying to collect money where letters were ignored.

"If the council is employing people, having exhausted all other avenues, I have no problem with it," he said.

Said Director of Services Tom Kilfeather; "This is a last resort. How can we resolve issues if people do not engage with us?"

The meeting heard that the council pays €4 for each letter issues by Stubbs Gazette and that the percentage cost is in relation to the amount collected was 12.5%

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