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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 18:59 GMT
Rebel pensioner fights on
Elizabeth Winkfield - PA
Elizabeth Winkfield says she will go to jail rather than pay the tax
An 83-year-old Devon woman has said outside court that she would rather go to prison than pay her council tax "even if I was a millionaire".

Elizabeth Winkfield, from Westward Ho!, appeared before Barnstaple magistrates wearing a hat she bought in a jumble sale and a suit she made herself.

They issued her with a liability order to pay nearly 99 which she has withheld from her total bill.

She was supported outside court by about 30 banner-waving fellow members of the Devon Pensioners' Action Forum, which was created following a council tax rise of nearly 18% last year.

'Wasting cash'

The pensioner's council tax bill last year for her Band C bungalow was 747.81, but she held back 98.80, the amount of the rise.

Miss Winkfield, who was also ordered to pay 10 costs, said outside the court: "I have been doing nothing and I will continue doing nothing."

Kenneth Camp
Kenneth Camp also faces jail for tax non-payment
She said if the bailiffs turned up at her home she would not let them in, adding: "I have not got anything which is really much good to them."

Miss Winkfield, who lives on the basic state pension of 312 per month, criticised councils for wasting cash, and said her message to them was: "Pull yourselves together and stop wasting money."

Miss Winkfield, who grows her own vegetables, said: "I am just very careful all the time.

"I'm making a stand. Even if I was a millionaire I wouldn't pay it."

In Plymouth, 74-year-old widower Kenneth Camp, was told by city magistrates on Thursday he also faced jail if he refused to pay up 115.

Mr Camp said: "More likely I'll end up back in court, but I couldn't care less."

Election battle

Another Devon pensioner is due in court next week over non-payment of council tax.

Retired social worker Sylvia Hardy, 71, from Barrack Road, Exeter, Devon, is due before the city magistrates on 25 February over the 91 she owes on her Band D flat.

Miss Hardy, who has also pledged to go to jail rather than pay up, is standing as an Independent candidate in the county council by-election for the city's St David's and Pennsylvania ward.

Faced with a total bill of 644, she has not been paying the full council tax rise - just a 1.7% increase in line with last year's rise in the state pension.

Earlier this year an 84-year-old former magistrate, David Richardson, of Haytor, Devon, appeared before Newton Abbot magistrates after refusing to pay all his tax, and was given a 70.20 liability order along with 30 legal costs.

Devon Pensioners' Action Forum has declared its intention to fight all 54 seats on Devon County Council at the next elections in 2005.

The county council, which raised council tax 5.25% this year, says it is under extreme financial pressure and is forced to increase council taxes just to keep basic services running.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's June Kelly
"Elizabeth Winkfield has reluctantly become the centre of attention"



SEE ALSO:
Council tax to rise 5.25%
17 Feb 04  |  Devon
Rebel pensioner defiant
11 Feb 04  |  Devon
Ex-magistrate in court protest
02 Feb 04  |  Devon


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