Hundreds of people faced a lengthy wait outside Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning (2 July) as council chiefs began a second round of legal action over the payment of Council Tax.
Peterborough City Council had issued summonses to 2,998 ratepayers to attend court just two weeks after it had instructed 4,641 others to attend court over the same issue.
It meant that by 9.30am a long queue of people snaked from the court doors and passed shops in Bridge Street even though many of the cases had been settled over the telephone beforehand.
In all, 223 were seen at court on Tuesday, slightly down on the 277 people seen on June 18.
Included in their number was Vincenzo Petruzziello (56), from Werrington, who is among the 8,750 households in Peterborough paying council tax for the first time in the wake of a Government shake-up of Council Tax benefits.
Mr Petruzziello, who has learning disabilities, received a summons despite having set up a standing order to pay his bill, but had found himself unable to get through to speak to council officers by telephone due to the level of calls received by the authority.
He was joined by Sarah Hillier (45), an advocate at Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service, who said following a 90-minute wait in the queue, officers were able to resolve the issue.
She said: “Once we could speak to a person they were very helpful and said they could see he had paid and didn’t understand why he had been summonsed.”
Cllr David Seaton, the council’s cabinet member for resources, said: “We ensured staff were in attendance at the court in advance of the time residents were due at court (9am) to help those arriving early.
“Thirteen members of our Council Tax team were at court all morning and ensured people were seen as quickly as possible.”