Council apologises to cancer victim
By Craig RobinsonA COUNCIL has apologised to a man suffering from cancer after an administrative mix-up led to him fearing that bailiffs would be sent to his home if he failed to pay his council tax.
By Craig Robinson
A COUNCIL has apologised to a man suffering from cancer after an administrative mix-up led to him fearing that bailiffs would be sent to his home if he failed to pay his council tax.
Noel Pattern, 32, of Cullingham Road, Ipswich, has a malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, on his vocal chords and has been unable to work for the past seven months, and only on and off for the past two years.
As a result the father-of-two applied to Ipswich Borough Council for benefits to help pay his council tax, having already used insurance and savings to pay for his mortgage and support his young family.
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But he received letters from the council threatening to send bailiffs to his home if the bill was unpaid.
“In the last few weeks Ipswich Borough Council have made a mistake with my application and cancelled my council tax benefit claim, telling me to start again,” said Mr Pattern.
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“On top of this I've had letters saying that bailiffs will be sent to my home to seize goods if the bill is not paid and that they will do this even if I am in hospital or not.
“I have every intention to pay the arrears and the benefits will be backdated so I don't know why the department is aggressively pursuing me.
“I don't want to have to go on benefits, but because of my condition and the fact that I cannot work for long periods of time I don't have any choice.”
Mr Pattern started having problems with his breathing in September 2003, but it was only after a number of hospital visits last year that doctors found the tumors on his vocal chord.
He had five operations to remove tumors in 2004 and also has a pituitary gland mass tumor at the base of the brain, which gives him a reduced field of vision, severe migraines and fatigue.
In addition problems with his adrenal function give him a rapid heartbeat and on three different occasions Mr Pattern has been admitted to hospital with a resting heartbeat of more than 160 beats per minute.
“I just don't understand why they are turning a deaf ear to a genuine case. I have enough to deal with what with the illness and this is something that I don't really need,” he added.
“It's frustrating not just for me, but for my whole family and especially my wife Claire. It's caused a lot of distress. We really have been put through it.”
A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said he was sorry for any trouble caused and added the claim for benefit was now being processed.
“We have immediately suspended any action by the bailiffs and apologise for causing any distress to Mr Pattern,” he said.
“This is a long-running case, but we were not aware that Mr Pattern was suffering from cancer until late last year when we again put on hold any recovery action and encouraged him to seek council tax benefit. This claim is now under way.”