This page has some information that you will need to know around the time of moving in to Marcia Road. It covers:
- places to eat
- council tax
- TV licensing
- gas, electricity and water meters
- get an A-Z and bus map
When you arrive, perhaps with a car full of your possessions, you will need to understand the parking arrangements. See the page on parking in Marcia Road.
After you have moved your things in, you may need something to eat. There is a traditional fish and chip shop at the near end of East Street, and an Indian takeaway a few doors father down from it. Otherwise check out the various cafes in Old Kent Road.
Tesco is the obvious place for all the usual foodstuffs, including quick-meals and sandwiches but it does not have a cafe. There are other small ‘supermarkets’ in Old Kent Road, one at least is 24 hours, and there is a Lidl a bit further down towards the flyover.
Everyone in Britain pays tax to the local council in whose area they live. The council for Marcia Road is called the London Borough of Southwark. The Council Tax pays for local services such as rubbish collection, parks, libraries, swimming pools, etc., and other things the council controls.
The part of the council that manages the tax collection is very aggressive: if you do not pay it will quickly send you a court order. If the previous occupants have told the council that they are leaving – they should have – you may find a letter from the council waiting for you, addressed to the occupier. If not, write to, or phone the council to tell them you have moved in. See details on the council website. Although the council is aggressive about the council tax, it does work to the rules, so if you are entitled to a discount (below) or it owes you money when you move away, you will get it back.
If you are renting in a shared a house, you and your housemates will have to work out the fairest way to share the cost of the council tax. Don’t ignore it, though. You will have to pay from the day you move in until the day you move out. The tax when the house is not let is the landlord’s responsibility.
The cost of the council tax is based on the value of the property in which you live, relative to other houses in the borough. There are discounts for students and people who live alone. People with low incomes, such as those receiving state benefits may also be eligible for help paying the council tax.
In the UK, each household that watches any TV needs a licence, which pays for the BBC. This applies even if you watch it on your PC or your mobile phone! If you you never watch TV but have a TV set only to watch DVDs or play console games on, you do not need a licence, but you will have an extremely difficult job convincing the authorities that that is all you use it for!
Above, I described the council tax collectors as aggressive but the TV Licensing Agency is positively threatening.
It assumes that you have a TV and that, if you are not paying for a licence, you should be. It can send ‘enforcement officers’ to inspect you house to check if you have a TV and it will fine you if you do. However, unless you invite the officers to come in, or they have a court order, they cannot come in, but they will not tell you that! They will make life very unpleasant for you with calls and threatening letters. People brought up in the UK are used to the system. They grumble about it but know that life is simpler if you pay up.
If you are sharing a house, whether you need one licence for everyone, or whether you each need a separate licence each depends on a number of factors. Read about it here on the TV Licensing agency website. You can register for a licence on that site too. But I suggest you read this page of independent advice before you do.
The gas, electricity and water supplies to the houses are metered. You should make a note of the meter numbers on the days you move in or out. The supply companies are likely to accept your numbers if they are not too different from the ones given to them by the previous occupants.
The gas and electricity meters are in the cupboard outside the front door. There is a key with a triangular end that opens it, or you can turn it with a screwdriver. Official meter readers have a key and should not call to ask you to open it so that they can read the meter.
Groups of water meters are sunk into the pavement in front of the houses. To read yours, lever up the lid with a flat end screwdriver. However, it may not easy to locate which one is yours until you have a bill, which has the meter’s identification number on it.
Even in these days of internet-based maps, very few Londoners manage without an A-Z guide, which you can buy in many shops that sell newspapers, or stationery shops.
Another essential, if you mostly use the buses, as you are likely to do when living in Marcia Road, is a Central London bus map. You can get one online here or, more useful, a paper one free, at main tube and train stations.