Introduction About Site Map

RSS 2 Feed RSS 2 Feed

Main Page | Blog Index

Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Seemingly Defunct and Surely Unfit to Operate: YORKSHIRE HEALTH SOLUTIONS LTD (Updated)


Companies House document
Source documents below

I‘ve just got off the phone (about 20 minutes) with the NHS after waiting for 4 hours in a queue — to no avail — to speak to a private company registered as YORKSHIRE HEALTH SOLUTIONS LTD, operating in Yorkshire and Manchester, based on their Web site. I also sent an email to “YORKSHIRE HEALTH [sic] SOLUTIONS”, but they’ve not responded. The issue has now been escalated to a manager at the NHS, but I want to state the case and put everything in the public domain in case other people experience equally awful service. As I explain later in this post, I shall pursue a formal complaint as well. This is a matter of public interest because the general public is harmed by private interests.

Let’s backtrack a bit and provide a little background information without revealing names and other sensitive details that can infringe privacy. All the above (and below) documents are available, without registration, to the British public and to the international crowd as well, so we’re not in breach of copyright law.

It’s no secret that I do not support the Conservatives (“Tories” for short), partly because they are are crippling the health services across the country; it took 3 weeks from the time of a referral from a GP to this private company doing something concrete. 3 weeks! Just to receive a letter! That’s just to book the appointment! Not results or anything like that…

And this does not take any account of the time taken to see a GP. In this case, 3 calls on 3 different days were needed just to book an appointment with the GP (a necessary prerequisite to seeing a specialist). Those calls weren’t toll-free, they cost quite a bit of money (and also time; 3 days in this case).

Now, with the NHS being covertly privatised, and services made worse (non-free phone numbers!), maybe it shouldn’t be so shocking that one spends 4 hours on the phone just trying to book an appointment, then failing! They should have hired more staff to answer calls! But in the world of capitalism, why would they bother? In short, if you need something health-related checked by today’s NHS, bear in mind it can take months, not days/weeks, to see a specialist. No wonder so many people die needlessly (those deaths could be prevented). Aral Balkan noticed the same thing happening in Ireland and I heard from people with similar experiences in other countries across Europe. As he said to me earlier today: “What we have in Ireland cannot be compared to the NHS. The NHS – which has been under constant sabotage by over a decade of conservative rule in the UK – is a shining example of what we must protect instead of following the greed-based insurance industry model of the US.”

Our experience has lately been even worse than stories I hear from the US. Phone the firm to book an appointment. You are then placed on a queue. “You are caller number 28″ (that’s at 11AM, which should be quiet). Half an hour later: “You are caller number 20″. So one might expect that after about 2 hours on the phone one might be able to book something. 2 hours! For many homes the battery won’t even last that long (landline). What about old people desperate for treatment or screening? What I think we deal with here is the cruelest form of capitalism at work: having privatised the services, they give a non-free number (no incentive to answer fast), and then they let people wait for hours on the queue just to book an appointment. I bet the phone companies love this! They make a lot of money this way.

So as it turns out, the estimate of 2 hours was wrong. After 4 hours on the line, and well over an hour being told that I am first in the queue, nobody picked up. I fired off an E-mail to the company:

Do you think it is acceptable that in order to book an appointment (today) one needs to wait in a queue for over 2 hours? Some people’s phones do not even have a battery to last that long on a call.
Please explain why you cannot hire more staff to handle calls.
This isn’t about placing an order for a product, this is an essential service. Making appointments should not require the hiring of highly specialised staff.

Did they reply? No. They cannot even bother answering calls, so why expect a reply electronically? They’re based near us, a walking distance, but of course we cannot book appointments this way.

I was just about to hang up after waiting in line — for just a booking (over the phone) — when it was approaching 3 hours! But they said “first in queue”, which sounded promising. After gradually going down from 28 in the queue ahead of you… to just 1.

As it turns out, it was nowhere near the truth; unless someone was holding up the line for over one hour (or 1.5 hours), there’s no reasonable explanation for this and they give a false sense of expectation. Maybe being first in line simply means that everyone before you gave up and decided to hang up; once I too hang up, people “behind” would get an illusion of advancing. Is anybody at all answering the phone? Imagine 30 people simultaneously being connected for hours. For nobody to actually serve them, only for other callers to call it quits and hang up the phone (as I did after 4 hours).

So at this point one might ask aloud, so that’s what it all boils down to? Waiting for 3 weeks for a letter (after 3 calls to see a GP) and then waiting on the line for 4 hours in vain?


This is where it gets interesting. After 3 hours waiting on the line I decided to check what sort of company we were in fact dealing with. Many dodgy companies continue to operate in debt, in effect being insolvent.

Are we dealing with a dead/dying company here? Is “YORKSHIRE HEALTH SOLUTIONS LTD” a bit of a zombie?

So I decided to look at formal documents from the company, especially accounting-related material. Here are documents from 2017 onwards (more recent first) in case they vanish in the future.

These are local copies. There’s no way to directly link to the originals because they use some wonky AWS storage, akin to a CDN with tokens…

I took just two screenshots, added to the top of this post. This is what privatisation looks like. I’m no bean counter, but it seems like this company can operate with like a million pounds, but it also cannot hire more than one person to pick up a phone (maybe no person at all was picking up calls; with privatisation there’s no real incentive to truly improve),

The way I’m reading the documents, they have considerable debt (see 15 Dec 2020/”Total exemption full accounts”).

My cordless phone’s battery is critically low now and almost out of ‘juice’. Well, if you have people in a telephone queue for 4 hours, then maybe you deserve bankruptcy, not just a formal complaint. The cost of the call remains to be seen, putting aside 3 weeks of impatience and unanswered E-mail.

I decided to reach the 4-hours mark (allegedly in the front of the queue) and then, if nothing happens, I would hang up. I’m now speaking with the non-private (non-privatised) part of the NHS and I will file a complaint. As noted above, it has already been escalated.

“4 hours is not queuing,” a friend told me, “it is having been abandoned. Might be appropriate for compensation or legislative changes to the governance.”

“However,” he continued, “keep in mind the bad service is there to drive people to sell off stuff or borrow money to go to private services instead. In that way they can show increased ‘demand’ for the privatized services and cut the NHS further. Thus feeding a vicious cycle.”

“The phone queues can be quite long,” the friend said, but not 4 hours. “I was waiting for about an hour the other day and that task is still not complete.”

Well, you’d think they can hire more people to pick up calls and book; it doesn’t take a university degree. But as my friend put it, “the goal actually is miserable service levels. [...] it seems most everything is designed to waste time rather than be a force multiplier.”

In any case, I now await further feedback, both from the company and from the NHS; I’m not phoning again to be placed on a queue (in vain) for 4 hours. This case may or may not concern me (perhaps a relative), but I’ve not given any details about the name/s and the nature of the case/s. Nor did I name anybody from the NHS and from this private firm. In the future I shall refer back to this post as means of demonstrating what’s being done to the health service that we all fund (by virtue of deductions from our salaries).

Update: I have just spoken with two more people (4 in total today) in The Care Gateway, which is connected to the above firm. They have said they would phone again tomorrow after failing to call back as they had promised earlier today. They then, albeit only after much insistence, gave me an address for a formal complaint. They gave me but TCG (as in “tcg”) stands for The Care Gateway. I asked them if I am basically tricked into sending a complaint to the same party I indirectly complain about and the manager confirmed that this is the case. I insisted on filing the complaint to a party which would not gaslight or obstruct the complainant just to save face and protect its reputation, hence she gave me also (not connected to The Care Gateway; likely above it). On the call she acknowledged that they are having technical problems with calls, but did not disclose sufficient details (like they hide the severity of this problem).

I understand that the system is already overwhelmed by the “Freedom Day” publicity stunt (purely political, placing business interests above national health), which wants us to assume that things are finally under control when in fact this year’s excess deaths significantly exceed last year’s, based on the official numbers from NHS England. However, this does not justify leaving people to wait on the phone in vain for half a working day. Some people do try to make a living in these difficult times and also keep their health checked; it’s not unreasonable to state this and it’s probably unfair to deny them moderately acceptable levels of service.

e.ON or ‘E.ON Next Energy Limited’ Possibly the UK’s Worst Energy Supplier

Video download link | md5sum 29054acc51742e85c3b317abfd2fec10

LAST year we unwillingly (but not unwittingly) became customers of ‘E.ON Next Energy Limited’ — to use the legal/registered name — after they had bought our longtime energy supplier, a company called NPower. Things have been hectic since then because the price hikes keep coming, without any reasonable or defensible excuses, the customer support is truly awful (customer disservice), they barely take any meter readings, and they severely punish anyone still not interested in a so-called ‘smart’ meter. The video above summarises the past week’s experiences that I had with the company, citing along the way conversations I was having with them months ago when we inquired about change of supplier. Judging by about 100 bits of feedback I’ve collected online, many other people have similar complaints if not much worse.

Someone urged me to file a complaint with the ombudsman and given the way things have progressed so far, maybe I will. The way I see it, they never got my consent (to treat me so badly as a customer); heck, they merely copied my bank details and other personal details from a supplier they had bought. The acquisition should have been blocked; instead, now we have loads of clients being obstructed and subjected to gaslighting.

To be fair, I was forewarned several years ago when a good friend of mine ranted about his supplier (he said it was “e.ON” — a company I had not yet heard of). Whether they call themselves e.ON or E.ON Next and use greenwashing buzzwords like “sustainable” or “renewable”, remember they’re a truly awful company you definitely want to avoid.

The Optical Fibre Experience — Part V

Previously in this mini-series: Part I, Part II, What Bad BT Engineering Looks Like, Part III, Part IV

BT has failed, after 16 days, to deliver what it promised would be a trivial job. It was BT pushing me to accept the offer, which I wish I never accepted (their sales people were super-eager for me to move to fibre; I never asked for it!). In this part I want to show segments of communications, excluding addresses but not reference numbers (which BT has anyway and only BT can make sense of).

My hope is that for the many people who are going to have similarly bad experiences there will be more information available online. Yesterday even Openreach took note of my complaint and sought to intervene:

Openreach tweet

Openreach in an ‘outreach’ (PR-ish)? This is only a day old.

In part 4 I explained that there was poor communication with the client. BT was supposed to get back to me later in the day. That never happened. Instead, the following day (as before) I was asked to phone them, probably for a very long call.

BT reply
BT: Just phone us because we’re too busy to phone you and please speak to a machine until you get through to an actual person (who likely knows nothing about your case, so wait on the line some more and get ready to tell us stories)

The prior message to the same effect (a week earlier):

BT first reach
I’ve already had to explain my case to about 5 different members of staff (BT and Openreach)

This is quite telling:

BT complaint
They keep closing complaints without actually solving the problem and without asking for the client’s consent to do so

They think dozens of hours of my time (and two scheduled downtimes, in vain) are worth a couple dozen quid:

Nowhere near enough to compensate for loss of time, nuisance, and many other things. Bear in mind I’ve paid BT about 5,000 pounds this past decade.

They have sent several such messages already:

BT engineer
It’s tiring to have appointments in vain (waiting for up to 5 hours for a person to show up and get nothing done)

BT install
As if it’ll get done this time around

As noted before, they didn’t even bother sending the bag/envelope for this until I phoned them to request one (we finally got it only a couple of days ago or about a week late).

The message caused confusion on numerous levels; in fact, it contradicts what the sales people from BT said (they don’t like disclosing the less convenient facts that allude to future hassle)

Then there’s this:

BT feedback
Oh, trust me, you don’t really want me to do this

It has now been 16 days (mind date of this E-mail). I’m still waiting.

16 days and counting

The Optical Fibre Experience — Part IV

Previously in this mini-series: Part I, Part II What Bad BT Engineering Looks Like, Part III

BT and I have talked on the phone 2 times since Openreach had left. I spoke to two people; one of them twice already with another call soon to follow. It seems to have been escalated further up, knowing it might become a PR disaster to their “Fibre” team, apparently wholly or partly based in Scotland.

They now say they have additional equipment they may be able to use to complete the job, but the last time they said they’d send a person with a hoist they sent out a person without it. Very serious oversight.

I asked the lady whether they can complete it by day’s end, noting that scheduled downtime happened twice already in vain. She said it would be almost impossible to complete today, especially if additional equipment becomes necessary.

Regarding compensation, I stressed to her this wasn’t really the point; I’ve lost so much time over the past 2 weeks due to all this and I have a massive hole in the wall, along with equipment I do not need. I probably wasted well over 10 hours already on this ‘project’ and this isn’t how it was initially marketed to me if not pushed onto me (I resisted for a long time and then they started offering managers’ discounts).

If they do complete the job at the end, which is probably inevitable, I still would not recommend anyone agrees to fibre, not this year anyway. There’s poor coordination between Openreach (infrastructure) and ISPs and what may seem like a simple installation can soon develop into a nightmare. They’re just really desperate to move people off copper — to the point of trying to convince people to ‘upgrade’ to something they would barely use. Copper is fast enough for most people. For me, personally, the benefits would be rather small though I can learn to take more advantage of higher throughput in due course. For example, remote nightly backups of my sites would be nice. For most people, the benefits would be less practical and almost impractical; the nuisance and trouble they risk going through simply isn’t worth it. My father told me they keep trying to get him to switch to fibre and he always turns them down (albeit mostly because that would entail a price increase).

I will follow up again when there’s additional information, but after 3 strikes (“you’re out!) all I can say to people is, do not move to fibre (UK residential), at least not yet. Also do not ever believe what their salesman say about it on the phone; they’re just desparately trying to secure the “sale”, leaving aside all the chaos that might thereafter come.

Britain Lost in Wembley

The only winner was coronavirus

Wembley match
A half-full Wembley Stadium (match ended a few hours ago)

RECENTLY in this blog I wrote about my personal experiences dealing with our local and national government. They use COVID to deny us any meaningful service. Today is the last day to register for post-Brexit (EU exit) settlement and only a few days ago, or two weeks late, a local council finally contacted me (a reply to my E-mail about lacking a mobile phone; but they asked me for my mobile number, so clearly they didn’t even bother reading my message!).

Here’s a roundup of recent posts on this matter (it’s good that I’ve chronicled it herein as it turned out to be a lot worse than I had imagined):

So England won the football match (well done to the players!), but we all lost as a country because COVID and whatever “mutants” or “variants” or “strains” exist will have spread by the end of that match. This was known in advance, but our government chose to pretend that football can distract us enough. My wife and I are both disappointed and very upset at the density of that crowd… as if football is more important than containing the virus.

Politicians: We laugh at your safetyTo put it in very simple terms, based on photos like the above (many more photos such as this, also video footage) you would not know COVID-19 cases and deaths soared across the UK (up by 60%-70% this past week alone) and you would not believe they deny access to essential government services, as I’ve noted in this blog for almost a year…

When Liverpool FC chose to host the match against Atlético Madrid last year the club was rightly blasted for it, even by the local authorities. What were they thinking? One last “blast” before lock-down? How many people died as a result of that match, which also saw Liverpool crashing out of the Champions League? (Karma.)

According to the BBC, “[a]round 43,000 fans at Wembley, 1,800 of them Germany supporters” were in that match, which ended hours ago. Our government officials just wanted to pretend we’re doing well against the virus, but those Tories (sociopaths) will regret it when we go into lock-down again. Will the public hold them accountable for it? For a second day in a row over 20,000 new COVID-19 cases are reported in the UK, but they still stuff almost 50,000 fans in one single venue, tightly packed into Wembley (mostly without masks; see photos!) because “flag waving” is apparently “ESSENTIAL” work, unlike British residents who need to register and don’t have a mobile phone (like us). A Tory Britain basically tells me that I cannot meet a government clerk “because COVID” (even while the number cases of per day was less than 1,000!), even for an essential service, but almost 50,000 fans are tightly packed inside Wembley for football (when the number of daily cases is >20,000). This is truly incredible, isn’t it? I’ve long pointed out to them that its absurd I can go dine in a restaurant (where people touch foods that people put inside their mouths), yet meeting a government clerk behind a plastic/glass screen is considered too “risky”…

Filling up Wembley? OK. Meeting a person for an essential service? No way! This is what happens when you elect Tories. Facts just cease to matter.

National Government and Local Councils Give the Middle Finger to EU Citizens Long Settled in the United Kingdom

SEVERAL days ago I wrote about difficulties associated with applying to remain in the UK. You must have a mobile phone, you cannot settle the matter in person, there’s nobody to speak to etc.

Here is the screenshot I showed of the support number they gave:


That exact same number is noted in many other places. So I’ve attempted about 12 times to phone Home Office regarding this. That was yesterday. Just to make the inquiry. But that number, which is widely advertised, never worked. And the response to it varied between 3 states (silent or two types of tone, depending on when you phone them). I thought their phone system was down and they later admitted this to me (when I finally spoke to them this morning). “Essential” service…

As for the Council, they did not respond at all since Saturday. I expect they will just ignore my very detailed E-mail. When dealing with Manchester City Council the experience was largely the same. They hardly give a damn…

The Home Office number was down all day or all afternoon yesterday. Now it’s back. Waiting on the line took ages, with me being in a queue (no ETA, no number in the queue stated) for a very long time. That in itself is bad enough, not to mention how options (even if carefully listened to and then selected) for how to route the call do not match what’s relevant as per the site where this number is advertised (as shown above). With only a few weeks left it should be expected that they will treat this as a high-priority thing.

After 20 minutes waiting in line I finally got to speak to an actual person, whereupon the Home Office told me that indeed their system was down yesterday (no calls could be made), and that moreover the number in the site is not correct and for the wrong department. Incredible. Truly incredible. Sheer incompetence. The correct number, they’ve told me, is 0300 123 7379.

So I phone that up. And guess what…

They don’t have a place in the queue, you cannot even wait and the queue and may need to call another time. So basically there is nobody to speak to. At a time such as this one has to wonder what went through their minds when they decided to turn away callers with queries, such as issues going through the process.

This leaves me having a pessimistic hypothesis affirmed. The government (both national and local) hardly cares about EU citizens, even those who are highly skilled and have been settled in the UK for ages. To them, we must be seen like a “burden”… I believe that the term for that is systemic racism.

Manchester Town Hall Complaint (Updated)

Manchester Town Hall

FOLLOWING a visit to Manchester Town Hall I decided to make a formal complaint. The staff at the Manchester Town Hall’s reception area gave me a generic and likely false E-mail address for the complaint, so I went to the Manchester Town Hall Web site and got a more appropriate address (specific for complaints). My concern was, they hope not to be scrutinised (and it’s less likely to happen when the Manchester Town Hall investigates itself anyway, unlike somewhat of an ombudsman, which I might reach out to at a later stage).

From 19/04/2021 (sent by myself to Manchester Town Hall):

Formal Complaint: Manchester Town Hall Customer (Dis)service

I have been a Mancunian for over 20 years and I really love the city. You can imagine how much I have been paying in Council Tax. Maybe 20,000 pounds in total, inflation-adjusted.

I have thus decided to write to you about my experiences. I am writing with deep and sincere concern. I regret to inform you that the Council has failed me repeatedly.

My complaint is threefold. I ask you kindly to respond to each element of the complaint individually as my complaint is on the public record and will be pursued as far as need be (upwards if necessary). I enumerate the problems very clearly at the end of this letter, which constitutes a formal complaint, not a hobby or an habitual rant. I have exhausted all other means of recourse.

I will begin by outlining events from this year and last year. From recollection, I believe, this is an accurate account of what happened.


COVID seems to have been exploited by the UK Home Office and Manchester Town Hall to violate basic laws or fundamental Human Rights, as per the UN’s definition. The Manchester experience, however, is what’s really at stake here. I will, hereon, focus not on the Home Office.

Many people may be going ‘online’ and longing for ‘apps’ (e.g. so-called ‘self-service’), but many people do not. You cannot force them to. The old excuses and banal lines like, “because who need services anyway??” won’t fly because they’re part of people’s basic rights, which the Manchester Town Hall is obliged to respect.

In 2020 I was repeatedly misled if not lied to by Manchester Town Hall. This led to a great deal of angst, both for me and for my wife. It lingers on for months, it does not vanish overnight. It’s still unresolved.

First time misled? My bad. Second time? Your fault. Unlike the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you…” (twice… me)

I’m tired of being pushed around and misled by people who claim to be the public face of Manchester Town Hall (they’re the ones manning the front desk, the reception).

What’s all this commotion about? Is it about privacy? Accessibility? Adherence to law? Or all the above?

Right about now many rules and laws are flouted and violated. In the name of “emergency”… a public health crisis. Perfect justification?

Courts have apparently decided that the equivalent of a telephone call is “trial”; governments are waging an accelerated war on cash, as well. I often wonder if here in Britain we changed the coins (rendering old ones worthless and obsolete) to artificially reduce the money supply; it would be helpful to know how many “old coins” there are compared to “new ones”. The thinking is, maybe they try to impose financial surveillance by “going digital” with scarcity of physical money added to the mix… or removed from circulation.

I bring this up just for analogy’s sake. Internet ‘voting’ is not secure (technical people like myself with a strong background in Computer Science will tell you that, based on evidence), ‘apps’ are no substitute for in-person services, and security is waning because back doors are mandated by our government, even out in the open.

I’ve heard it said, even by Manchester Town Hall, that they’re separate from the government as much as Manchester City (private company) is separate from Manchester United (another private and publicly-traded company). I reject this false equivalence because the same political parties that control the government also occupied Manchester Town Hall for a very, very long time. So when your staff at the front desk tells me (earlier today) that they’re as separate from the British government like football clubs are separate he’s basically insulting my intelligence and trivialising a serious situation regarding an essential service. I expected much better than this. Standards should be higher. They can be.

The deterioration of our lives is now driven by technology; we were promised technology would make things easier (like doing our laundry, shortening the working days/hours etc.) but in practice people work harder and for longer hours than ever before. People are even being contacted by their bosses well outside working hours. Is this progress? No.

In the case of Manchester Town Hall, a lot of services are now being outsourced and to make matters worse there are no options left for those looking to get things done the “proper” way.

This brings me to the nature of the complaint. On December 10th 2020 my wife and I went to Manchester Town Hall (temporarily housed partially in Heron House across the road, below GCHQ, as he main building undergoes renovation/overhaul). We went to their office, as explained in the official site, at the specified time with all the documents and a laptop (as required for communication and exchange of details), only to be told the service we need (EEA settlement) is not available due to COVID but can instead be done at the Post Office.

Alright then…

So we went to the Post Office, only to be told they don’t do any of that and at least two people had been similarly misdirected earlier in the same day!

What on Earth is going on? ‘Ping-pong’ with people?

So we went back to Town Hall, only to face a different person, who barely even apologised for the misdirection and used “COVID” as a catch-all excuse, instead suggesting contacting the Home Office or urging us to use some Android “app” (which is out of the question).

What if we were disabled or blind? What about options that are paper-based?

This is a terrible regression which actually predates (in part) the pandemic. An “app-only” government would be a travesty for many reasons; like rendering you a non-citizen for refusing to carry around a so-called ‘phone’ that tracks your movement more closely than RFID. There are also security issues and one need not be a Luddite to reject this option. I have a strong background in computing and I work with many of them; I’m no Luddite, I just understand enough the pitfalls and human rights aspects. Our local and national government needs to be better advised on those aspects.

Is COVID a valid excuse here? Hardly. Because apparently, according to information we received from a representative at the Town Hall, this has gone on since March 2020 and there’s no projected date or resumption. According to our solicitor, the whole “app” thing was already pushed well before March. They literally want people to take selfies of themselves and then send that to the Home Office, then send sensitive documents over ‘phones’ with back doors.

This isn’t the future; this is not “innovation” but degradation of services spun as “smart” and convenient.

Nothing is as convenient as an informed person interacting with you, dealing with the papers for you, checking the authenticity and ensuring everything is done properly right there on the spot.

I am not a lawyer, I don’t know the pertinent laws and sections, but I know enough to say that the government cannot demand people do those sorts of things with “apps” or digital devices. There must be a fallback. Leaving people ‘hanging’ for almost a year citing “health and safety” cannot be excused because of the COVID-19 pandemic; for several months during summer people could go to pubs and restaurants, so surely Town Hall could facilitate face-to-face (with masks on) meetings.

I decided to carry on chasing Town Hall the following year after lock-downs (which went on longer than anyone had expected).


Manchester Town Hall looks the same, some of the staff is the same, and there are familiar faces.

Back in December I complained that in the name of “COVID” (the ultimate source of excuses for just about everything) services that are considered “essential” were shut down, outsourced, and basically ceased to be taken seriously. Citizens became almost ‘disposable’ and there was no effort to help the elderly, the disabled and so on.

Without having to repeat what happened in December (it’s documented above, down to the level of fine details), let’s say that this time, with lock-downs lifted after a 4-month quarantine period, Manchester Town Hall enthusiastically told me (upon me visiting) that now it’s possible to get appointments again, albeit it’s done by an external and private firm. Not particularly encouraging. Not everything ought to be privatised. Did the government just cease to exist? What does the government collect tax money for and what does Manchester Town Hall take over a thousand pounds per year for? To pass that money to private firms in the form of contracts? So long story short, Manchester Town Hall outsourced some services to private companies and now it takes almost an hour waiting on the phone just to speak to a person. See, companies think “efficiencies” and “profit”… not quality of service…

Once you finally get to speak to a person they pretend to offer services but are in fact admitting it’s not something they do. So the Manchester Town Hall staff sends people in the wrong direction, with completely false hopes.

I went to Town Hall today and they confirmed that, indeed, it was just some biometrics company. Why did Town Hall send EEA citizens to a biometrics company??? The process does not at all require biometrics (at any point).

This, to me, showed a degree of incompetence.

This is not the first time! They did the same thing last year. They had been sending people to the Post Office, only to be told that it’s the wrong place and they offer no services to that effect. Based on what staff of the Post Office told us, the Manchester Town Hall kept sending more and more people in that direction in vain (several people before us, even on the very same day).

So what on Earth is going on?

Manchester Town Hall once again sends people to the wrong firms, falsely claiming they offer in-person services. I’ve just spoken to their manager after escalation (and 40+ minutes on the phone; not cheap, premium rated!) and they’re basically confirming it’s a case of “not my department!”-type deflection. COVID has killed the concept of public servants and services.

The staff of the Manchester Town Hall is either seriously misinformed or deliberately lies to people just to get them to exit the premises, never to fulfill essential requirements. I dread the thought of what Manchester Town Hall would be like if there was Martial Law.

But on a more serious note, is any attention being paid to quality of advice and service?


Upon my visit to the City Council I was mostly stonewalled, unlike in my previous visit, which gave me false hopes (see above).

Mark sat at the desk, soon to be joined by two colleagues including a security person who clearly was not needed. There was no escalation or threat, I am soft spoken, so three people standing around me only caused unnecessary hostility. They made me feel not like a foreigner but a leper. Seeing that a longtime citizen gets treated in this fashion worried me about ‘brexit’ more the anything the government says. Seeing it face-to-face…

My approach was about an essential service, not a luxury.

Mark said you must answer within two weeks and work towards a resolution.

To summarise, my complaint is split as follows:

1. Failing to provide an essential service to my wife and I

2. Giving bad advice or misinformation, sending us and many others in the wring direction repeatedly

3. Treating a polite person with a legitimate grievance (aggrieved by repeated disservice) in a menacing way, no less right under the GCHQ as if their citizen, who is also a journalist, poses a potent threat.

Maybe the projection tactics sought to cause self-shame and in effect invert the narratives. All we wants to do was register as residents/citizens. Nothing more. Now I completely lack confidence in the Council, which I do not feel exists to serve or protect me. Or anybody else for that matter because what the Post Office told me suggests they did the same to other people.

Today is 19/04/2021

I am aware your deadline for substantial reply is thus 03/05/2021.

Kind regards

Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following day (20/04/2021) Manchester Town Hall wrote to confirm that it is now dealing with my long and threefold complaint. I had clarified my willingness to take this up to the higher levels (like central/national government) if necessary. Lots at stake across many areas, not just my own experience, so I will try to make the complaint generic enough to tackle underlying causes.

Feedback and Complaints Service

Telephone: 0161 234 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear Dr Roy Schestowitz,

MAN/xxxxxxxxxxxxxx – Corporate Complaint Stage 1 – xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thank you for your complaint which we received on 19/04/2021.

Your complaint is being dealt with at the first stage of the Council’s complaints procedure.

We have allocated this to a member of the team, who will investigate and respond to you directly, within ten working days. You will be contacted again if for any reason we cannot meet this deadline. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your complaint, please reply to this email directly and we shall be in touch.

I hope this matter will soon be resolved to your satisfaction and I would like to thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Yours sincerely


Registration and Coroner Services Support Officer

I am now awaiting further updates/actions and will update this blog post when/if further communications are made.

Update: Today I received the following reply.

Dear Dr Schestowitz

Thank you for submitting your recent complaint which has been passed to me to respond to. I would like to respond to the each of the three main points of complaint in turn, but before I do so I would like to take a moment to explain precisely who we are and what connection we have to the EU Settlement Scheme. I am the Registrations Manager at the Manchester Register Office, who primarily are responsible for the registration of births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships in Manchester. The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) is, and always has, involved a self-serve online application process. Since its inception EUSS has required the applicant to make the application online themselves, there is no way of applying using a paper form. Neither Manchester Register Office nor Manchester City Council have any connection to EUSS and cannot assist with applications on behalf of residents. Part of the application process involves the applicant verifying their identity by using a smartphone app to scan their biometric passport and take a photograph of themselves. Initially this app was only available on Android phones and was therefore not available for download to iPhone users. Prior to the pandemic, what Manchester Register Office did provide was a service whereby EUSS applicants who were unable to download or use the smartphone app could attend the office and a member of staff would do this for them using an electronic device with the app installed on it. The applicant could only use this service if they had already submitted their application online. This was a non-statutory service and had to be immediately suspended when the pandemic hit. There were numerous reasons why we were unable to offer this service, but one of the main reasons was the fact it was no longer safe from a public health perspective for us to offer it. The service involved large numbers of people attending the office in person, the staff member and applicant being in close personal contact with each other to take the photograph and the passing of an electronic device between them. This meant the service was no longer viable or safe for us to provide and therefore has been suspended indefinitely. Furthermore, since the smartphone app is now available to iPhone users as well as applicants with an Android phone, there was far less requirement for us to provide this service. The online application can be made here:

I hope that goes some way in explaining why neither Manchester Register Office or Manchester City Council has withheld an essential service to either you or your wife.

I have thoroughly investigated events by speaking to the staff that have dealt with you when you have visited the Register Office. The first time you attended the staff member you spoke to was a temp who was working for this service at the end of last year. This staff member explained that we couldn’t assist with your request to help you make an EUSS application. She suggested that you may wish to try the Post Office. It later transpired that this member of staff had made a similar suggestion to other customers and, when highlighted, she was advised that the Post Office couldn’t help with EUSS enquiries. I would like to apologise for that fact that this suggestion was not accurate and for any inconvenience this may have caused you. However, this was a genuine attempt to provide you with an avenue to explore, as we were unable to assist. I do not believe it is correct or fair to characterise this as a deliberate attempt to mislead you, ‘pass the buck’ or lie. Since the Post Office do provide a number of identity verification services, I do not think that this staff member’s suggestion was outlandish or far-fetched, although as I have said I would like to apologise for any inconvenience this incorrect suggestion caused you.

On a separate visit I understand that you dealt with another member of staff who again explained that we were unable to assist you with making an EUSS application. On this occasion the staff member suggested an alternative avenue to explore, namely, to try speaking to the company Sopra Steria to see if they could help. Sopra Steria are a private firm who provide UK Visa and Citizenship application assistance and are classed as the ‘official partner’ of the UK Visa and Immigration Service. Since Sopra Steria have offices based in the Manchester Central Library, a short walk from Heron House, this seemed to the member of staff that spoke to you like a sensible suggestion that would not involve you going significantly out of your way. Presumably because EUSS requires the applicant to make their application online themselves as I have explained, you have explained that Sopra Steria were not able to provide you with what you wanted. Again, I believe it is wrong to characterise this genuine and well-meaning attempt to help you find a solution, as a deliberate attempt to mislead you or waste your time. However, what this has highlighted is the need to ensure that all our team are fully aware of the fact that all EUSS applications must be made online and where necessary to advise customers of this. I would like to thank you for raising this matter as it has helped us improve the advice we are able to provide to customers and residents in the future.

On your most recent visit to Heron House you made the same enquiry regarding making an EUSS application and wanted us to help you complete ‘the form’. It was repeatedly explained to you that this was not a service we could offer, or indeed had ever offered. I have explained previously how this advice was accurate. I have independently spoken to all the staff members that were present (three members of Register Office staff and a security guard employed by G4S witnessed your visit) and I have not found any evidence that you were spoken to in a rude or offensive manner, or that anyone acted in a threatening or ‘menacing’ way. Having been told the same thing repeatedly and with no way of resolving the issue to your satisfaction, the conversation had to be drawn to a close. A queue of customers with appointments to meet with registrars was beginning to form behind you and needed to be booked in and sent upstairs to attend their appointment slots. Since only one party can be admitted to the entrance foyer at a time it became necessary for the security guard to ask you to leave the building to allow others to be admitted. I have not heard any evidence that you were treated in a ‘menacing’ way or in a way that suggested you were seen as posing a threat as you have described.

In conclusion, I do not uphold this complaint. Whilst I would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to you and your wife by the suggestions made by members of staff here at Manchester Register Office, I do not believe these suggestions can be characterised as anything other than well-meaning attempts to provide you with avenues to explore as we were not able to provide you with the service you were requesting. Whilst these suggestions may have proven to be inaccurate it does not alter the fact that the assertion each member of staff made that we were unable to assist you in making an EUSS application was accurate. As I have explained in detail EUSS has always been an online application process undertaken by the applicant themselves and has never been something that the Registration Service or Manchester City Council have be able to offer. You have however highlighted the need for our team to be better aware of the EUSS application process and how it can be accessed, and I have since provided all staff with appropriate guidance. I would like to thank you for bringing this to my attention as it will enable us to provide better advise in the future if we receive such enquiries again.

Your complaint has now been considered at Stage One of the Council’s complaints procedure. If you feel your complaint has not been satisfactorily answered, you have the right to request it is reviewed at Stage Two. Should you wish to do this, you should respond directly to this email without changing the subject line. Your request for a review should be made within 20 working days of the date of this letter and should set out:

The reasons why you remain dissatisfied

How you expect the complaint to be resolved

Upon receipt of this information, the Corporate Complaints Team will determine whether:

A Stage 2 review is likely to bring a different outcome

Your desired outcomes are reasonable and achievable

In every case, your complaint, and the points above will be reviewed and you will be notified of the decision on whether a further investigation will be undertaken at the second stage. If a Stage 2 investigation is progressed, you will receive a full response within a maximum of 15 working days. If it is not, you will be advised further of your ongoing right of appeal.

Kind regards

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

Registrations Manager

Manchester Register Office

Heron House

47 Lloyd Street


M2 5LE

I still contemplate how to proceed with this. Manchester’s authority investigating itself was bound to lead to such an outcome.

Retrieval statistics: 21 queries taking a total of 0.148 seconds • Please report low bandwidth using the feedback form
Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
|— Proudly powered by W o r d P r e s s — based on a heavily-hacked version 1.2.1 (Mingus) installation —|