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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Council tax protester is jailed
Josephine Rooney outside Derby Magistrates Court
Rooney said her street is blighted with litter
A woman who refused to pay her council tax in protest at the condition of her neighbourhood has been jailed.

Josephine Rooney, 69, who lives in Hartington Street, Derby, has 800 to pay, but said the city council had failed to clean up her area.

The council denied Miss Rooney's claims, saying measures were already in place to improve her district.

Rooney, who described herself as a "conscientious objector", was jailed for three months by Derby magistrates.

She said earlier that she was prepared to do almost anything for her campaign, including going to jail.

That's what I really am, a conscientious objector
Josephine Rooney

"It's daunting, but I feel that I have to take a stand in order to make this council listen to us. This council does not listen to the electorate," she said.

Rooney said her faith would help her cope.

"I planned this nearly two years ago when I read about that pensioner down in the West Country, and I wanted to find a way of committing civil disobedience - in the way conscientious objectors do so in South American dictatorships and other parts of the world.

"So, that's what I really am, a conscientious objector," she said.

Josephine Rooney
Rooney said she was daunted by the prospect of going to prison

Magistrates had told Rooney in May that she faced jail unless she settled her unpaid 798.97 council tax bill.

She was then given more time to pay her outstanding tax bill, but she failed to meet a recent deadline.

As guards took the pensioner down on Monday, District Judge Joanne Alderson said: "At any stage you can pay the amount outstanding and secure your immediate release."

The former lay preacher said anti-social behaviour, litter and disrepair of properties have blighted the area.

"We have been campaigning for six years and all they want to do is cover it up. I have had enough. I am weary of this campaigning and I want closure," Rooney said.

She has won a Taking a Stand award from the government's Respect campaign.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See Josephine Rooney getting ready to go to prison



SEE ALSO
Council tax pensioner gets award
09 Jun 06 |  Derbyshire

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