‘The council stole my car’: Woman claims council illegally sold her car with dead mum’s necklace inside
A woman claims she has been left tens of thousands of pounds worse off after council bailiffs wrongly took away her car.
Latoya Walker, 40, said she has spent the past four years fighting Croydon council after her BMW 3 series convertible was unlawfully taken from outside her home in Cassland Road, Thornton Heath, in 2019 in a dispute over an unpaid parking ticket.
The council then sold the car before an arranged court hearing. Ms Walker claims her late mother’s necklace was also in the glove compartment, which she has not been able to recover.
Including the value of her mother’s necklace, the car and solicitors’ fees, Ms Walker believes she is owed £26,000.
From left, Latoya Walker, with family and her mum centre front wearing the lost necklace (Picture: Latoya Walker)
“They have robbed me of what it is to be human,” said Ms Walker. “This has been going on for four years and the council treat me like a second class citizen.
“The other day one of the [council officers] told me to check my tone. They sold my car and I’m not supposed to be angry?”
Ms Walker said she received a parking ticket for not displaying her resident’s parking permit properly.
She claims she called the council, which told her permits were electronic so there would be no fine.
In January 2019, bailiffs turned up at Ms Walker’s home and told her they would take the car away. Ms Walker said her husband sat in the car and refused to let them take it.
She managed to apply for an “out of time application” from the Traffic Enforcement Centre on the spot, which should have prevented the bailiffs from carrying out further action.
But the bailiffs called the police, who told Ms Walker the car could be taken. She was told to pay the fine to retrieve the vehicle.
Ms Walker disputed the fine and the matter was to be taken to court a month later. But before the court date arrived, Ms Walker received a notification from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency that her car had been sold.
“I was stunned,” said Ms Walker. “They sold my car while we were waiting to go to court. All I had of my mum was that necklace, locked in the glove compartment.”
At the court hearing a judge ruled that the council unlawfully sold Ms Walker’s car and ordered them to repay her for the damages. Ms Walker said the council has only offered her £4,400 for it.
She has refused to accept the council’s valuation of the car so the case remains unresolved.
“Croydon have bullied me and robbed me of the person I once was,” said Ms Walker. “They have caused me extreme stress, anxiety and depression.
“Under any other circumstances to illegally take someone’s car it would be a very linear path to jail, yet here I am four years later without a car, and no payment from Croydon.
“They have no regard for the sentimental value of my mother’s necklace.
“I lost my mother at the age of 50 to cancer. That’s the necklace she wore while I held her hand as she laid in the hospital bed, yet Croydon dismissed this as if my mother’s memories are simply garbage and I am a second class citizen.”
A Croydon council spokesman said: “We are in contact with Miss Walker about her claim and we cannot comment further on this individual case.”
Pictured top: From left, Latoya Walker and her car that was taken by Croydon bailiffs (Picture: Latoya Walker)
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