Sunday, June 24, 2012
Only in good old England...
By Graham Smith
Bailiffs calling: Bristol University student Georgie Twigg, 21, spread the teaching of her final academic year over two so she could focus on a tough training schedule for the GB hockey team
A young Olympic hopeful who took time out from her law degree to train for a place at the London 2012 games has been threatened by balliffs over council tax payments.
Bristol University student Georgie Twigg, 21, spread the teaching of her final academic year over two so she could focus on a tough training schedule for the GB hockey team.
But this loyalty to her country makes Miss Twigg the only part-time student in a house of six, in Clifton, Bristol - leaving her liable for a hefty council tax bill on a property in band E, totalling £1,500.
Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax while they study, but as Miss Twigg only attends university for one day a week, she no longer qualifies for this bracket.
Miss Twigg spends the other four days of her week training with her GB hockey team in Maidenhead, Berkshire - living in a property that she pays full council tax on.
She received a court summons after returning from Argentina in February, where her GB hockey team won a silver medal at the Champions Trophy for the first time.
Miss Twigg, who carried the Olympic torch through Clifton, Bristol, earlier this month, contacted Bristol City Council to ask to be treated as a student as she does not have the money to pay the bill - but her plea fell on deaf ears.
The summons stated that because she was completing her final year in two years instead of one, she was classed as a part-time student and was no longer exempt from paying council tax, as full-time students are.
Miss Twigg's parents wrote to the council, including to leader Simon Cook and chief executive Jan Ormondroyd to ask that she be made exempt due to her exceptional circumstances.
But the council told the family there was nothing it could do and demanded the money.
At the start of this month, just as she was about to take her final law exams, Miss Twigg received a notice of 'intended bailiff action'.
Her father Robert Twigg, 57, said: 'We feel that Georgie has been penalised for trying to complete her studies while at the same time qualifying for the Olympic team.
'It can't be right that this charge wouldn't have been put on her if she had opted out of such a fantastic opportunity.
'Bristol City Council has been completely unsupportive and unreasonable - no-one seems to want to stick their head above the parapet and realise that these are exceptional circumstances - it just seems so wrong.'
A spokesman for Bristol City Council said: ....'We have offered as reasonable terms as we can for the repayment of the debt incurred. It goes without saying that we wish her all the best at the Olympics.'