Elderly couple's TV licence nightmare

By David LennardAN elderly couple who have never had a television have been left distraught after the TV Licensing authority threatened to send a team of investigators and search every room in their house.

By David Lennard

AN elderly couple who have never had a television have been left distraught after the TV Licensing authority threatened to send a team of investigators and search every room in their house.

Don and Marie Bennett, from Kessingland, have always enjoyed reading, listening to music or simply relaxing in their conservatory watching the birds in their garden.

One thing they have never wanted is to sit down and watch television programmes, but they have been unable to convince the TV Licensing authority of this.


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Mr Bennett, 86, and his 65-year-old wife had got used to regularly replying to letters sent by the authority and insisting they did not have a television at their home.

However, the latest letter, informing them that officers would be calling to check there was not a television set in their house, has left the couple shocked and upset.

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Ironically, if the Bennetts ever did decide to get a television, they would qualify for a free television licence as Mr Bennett is aged over 75.

“We have been honest decent people all our lives and I am really upset to get a letter threatening to send inspectors round to search every room in our house,” said Mrs Bennett.

“We just do not want a television. I have got fed-up with explaining this to the licensing people when they send their letters, but they should not be allowed to threaten elderly people like this.

“It is frightening that someone can knock at your door and then come in and search every room in your house.”

The couple's plight has infuriated Bob Blizzard, the Waveney MP, who has promised to raise the matter in Parliament.

“It is simply outrageous that an elderly couple can be treated in this way. I feel so strongly about this that I will bring it to the attention of the Government department responsible as this cannot be allowed to go on,” he said.

Mr Blizzard added the case of Mr and Mrs Bennett highlighted a significant flaw in the present licensing arrangements.

“I would like to see public service broadcasting funded in some other way as cases like this show that the present licensing system is simply not the way forward,” he said.

A spokesman for the TV Licensing authority said it had a database of more than 28 million addresses and it asked people to co-operate with its inquiries so details could be kept up-to-date.

“In this case, all the family would need to do is provide proof that someone in the household is over 75 by sending the individual's name, date of birth, address and National Insurance number to us,” he added.

“We will then not contact them again for a year, at the end of which we will be in touch just to check whether circumstances have changed, for example, whether they have moved.”

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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