‘Bailiffs seized my van over incorrect parking fine – now I’ve lost my business’

A man lost his construction business after bailiffs seized his van over an incorrect parking fine.

Dwight Henry, 45, from Hackney, was initially told he would not have to pay the penalty charge notice – but bailiffs later enforced the fine seizing his van and ruining his business.

He said: “I’m past furious. The stress this brought on me is a different level. The bailiffs were so aggressive it was unbelievable. It was an abuse of power.

“I think the council should pay me back what I have lost and compensate me for the stress and damage they have caused. The council should take full responsibility for the negligence.”

His van was seized in October last year and he has lost £45,000 from three contracts, forcing him to close his business, Phoenix Construction East London Ltd, and lay off 10 members of staff.

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He came back to his van on the morning of April 5 last year to find a parking attendant issuing him a ticket.

This was because the parking bay was suspended, but this was to come into effect from 8am, and the ticket was issued at 7.55am.

Mr Henry said he pointed out the mistake and it was agreed to cancel the fine with the £65 parking ticket ripped up.

But five months later he had a letter from bailiffs Newlyn Plc, saying they had been passed a debt of more than £200 for the ticket.

He challenged the fine with Hackney Council’s Traffic Enforcement Centre but his van was clamped and seized at the end of October with the debt increasing to £1,300.

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Mr Henry had £20,000 worth of tools locked in the van forcing him to forgo his contracts and let go his employees.

The council has now cancelled the fine, apologised and returned his van, but his business has been devastated as a result.

The dad-of-five said: “It has ruined my life. The council have never reached out to me to say, ‘Let’s try and make amends’.

“I had to lay everyone off. I am pretty much out of business. Construction for me is over. Thirty years. All my life it’s all I’ve known… Since I was 16 years old.”

Mr Henry is now looking for a new job as a delivery driver. He said: “The council officers are still in their jobs, getting paid… But what about my kids, my family? What about the guys I’ve had to lay off, permanently?

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“The council don’t take responsibility for their actions. It’s not fair; a man shouldn’t lose their livelihood because of what happened.”

A spokesperson for Hackney Council said: “More than a month passed between Mr Henry speaking to the enforcement agent on 18 September and the vehicle being impounded on October 23, when Mr Henry had the opportunity to resolve the case.

“We’d urge Mr Henry to contact us if he would like us to review his case. We’ve reviewed this case and found that the PCN was issued three minutes before the parking suspension began.

“This should have been cancelled and we apologise to Mr Henry for the inconvenience this has caused him.”

Hackney Council did not say whether or not it was planning to compensate Mr Henry.

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