Camden New Journal - by DAN CARRIER Published: 20 December 2007
Asha Jihu in the expensive BMW that was destroyed while she was overseas caring for her sick father
£20,000 car destroyed for £120 bill
Town Hall crush woman’s BMW as she cares for sick father
A TOP-of-the-range BMW sports car was crushed by the Town Hall because its owner fell just £120 behind in rent for a garage to store it in.
Asha Jihu, a former detective turned best selling author, had gone away to nurse her father in China who was suffering from cancer.
She hired the garage from the council for £6.93p a week in 2006 to store the £20,000 coupe, but on her return she discovered her BMW – with just 9,000 miles on the clock – had been taken away due to the outstanding bill.
Ms Jihu had not realised that her direct debit payments had not covered a small increase in her bill, which was raised during her absence and without her knowledge.
She said: “They told me the reason they crushed my car was because they had put the price up and I had failed to pay. “But they have offered no proof of what happened to my car and to wreck it for such a small bill seems ludicrous. “The car meant a lot to me – it was my pride and joy. I cannot believe I’ll never get behind the wheel of it again, and to wreck a vehicle like that for such a small sum is beyond my understanding.”
Ms Jihu said that she had left details of an agent who had the power to act on her behalf to deal with her flat and garage while she away – and officers failed to contact them to inform them of the rent rise, which Ms Jihu says she could easily have covered.
She is a mother of two who has featured on the front cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and has been voted Woman of the Year by the Asian edition of the magazine.
Before moving to Europe, she worked as a detective in the Chinese police force before becoming a best-selling author with her autobiographical novel, The Child of the Yangtze River.
Ms Jihu moved to London in 1993.
She said: “England is a country where people respect the law, and I like the way your legal system is here to protect people. “That is why I am so shocked with how I have been treated. No one has been able to offer any evidence or an explanation as to what has happened to my possessions.”
A council spokesman said it had tried to contact Ms Jihu on “numerous” occasions to inform her she owed money and to warn her of the consequences.
The spokesman added: “When anybody rents a garage from the council it’s made very clear that action will be taken if they fail to pay the rent. This includes having items repossessed or destroyed. “After Ms Jihu failed to contact the council and take the necessary action her car was removed from the garage on 10 January 2007. “The council again attempted to contact Ms Jihu but she again failed to reply to any of the warning letters and the car was destroyed on 5 April 2007. “Ms Jihu has not collected any of her smaller belongings left in the garage. Renting a garage from the council works on the same basis as renting private storage space, which would require a person to keep up with the rent payments. It is not uncommon for garages to be abandoned by users, leaving the council with the cost and inconvenience of removing the contents.”
I SUFFERED a similar abuse at the hands of Camden. I wrote to the Council stating that I am going to be admitted to a hospital and if there any amounting outstanding on Council Tax I will settle as soon as I was back. The Council although admitted that they receive my letter ignored it and had bailiffs at my door on the the first day I return from the hospital.