Monday, 3 May 2010

The Carlisle Case - Pennine View and Pennine View Close Carlisle (summary)

This case concerns a new estate built between 2001 and 2003. The Valuation Office Agency made a complete mess of the Council Tax (CT) bands of the estate. 47 of the 66 houses and bungalows were put in the wrong band.

Inept Valuation Office staff put adjacent identical properties in different bands; adjacent identical bungalows were in band B and D; adjacent identical houses in band C and D. The most expensive 4 and 5 bedroom houses were in band C, a lower band than the less expensive 3 bedroom houses, and the same band as the least expensive 2 bedroom bungalows. An idiot had assessed the Council Tax bands of the estate.

When a resident notified the Carlisle Valuation Office of the obvious errors and inconsistencies in the Council Tax bands, the Valuation Office Agency ignored the evidence submitted, and took no substantive action to rectify the anomalies for over 5 months. The resident had to pursue a complaint to the Valuation Office's Chief Executive before the bungling officers at Carlisle Valuation Office amended the errors in the Council Tax List. Initially, the officers failed to correct all the inconsistencies and had to alter the bands of 2 further properties after the resident told them of their error. It took 8 months to complete a review of 66 properties, but there were only 11 different property types.

Of the 66 houses and bungalows, 71% were in the wrong band. The Valuation Office reduced the band of 38 properties, increased the band of 9 properties (some by 2 bands), and 19 remained unchanged.

The Adjudicator, Dame Barbara Mills, (who was criticised and discredited by the High Court for perverse and flawed decisions) disregarded the rules of natural justice and denied the complainant the opportunity to see or comment on the Valuation Office's evidence, deliberately misrepresented the facts, and wilfully concealed incriminating evidence.

The Adjudicator comes to the absurd, perverse, irrational, and unhinged decision that the Valuation Office's Code of Practice on complaints does not apply to the complainant (when it specifically states this code applies to all ratepayers, council tax payers and others whose affairs we deal with), and upholds the dilatory actions and malpractices of inept VOA staff.

In 1992 it took 8 months to complete the Council Tax banding of 22 million residential properties in England, of which approximately 1/3 were undertaken by the Valuation Office Agency. In 2008, the Carlisle Valuation Office took the same time to review the bands of 66 properties. The Adjudicator considered this to be reasonable. That just about sums up her perverse and flawed decisions.