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Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 00:40 GMT 01:40 UK
Tax rebel's anger at benefactor
Sylvia Hardy
Pensioner Sylvia Hardy says her council tax fight will go on
A 71-year-old council tax rebel said she was "angry and disappointed" at a mystery benefactor who paid her bill and saved her from a jail sentence.

Sylvia Hardy, from Exeter, had said she was ready to go to jail for non-payment of council tax in protest at the 18% hike in the bill last year.

But she has been told by Exeter Council that her 91.28 arrears has been paid.

Miss Hardy said she suspected it was a tactic by the authorities to undermine the anti-council tax protests in Devon.

Some people in high places may have thought that they are going to be shown up as the bad boys
Sylvia Hardy
Miss Hardy said she had been sent a letter from the council to tell her the bill had been settled by an anonymous well-wisher from London.

Ms Hardy told BBC News Online: "At first I was shocked and angry because it pulled the rug from under our feet.

"But that is temporary because I am still going to not pay the full council tax this year."

She said she thought "people in high places" may have paid the bill so as not to look like "the bad boys".

The council will not be taking any further action against the retired social worker.

New tax calls

Ms Hardy said her campaign against the council tax would continue.

More than 200 other pensioners from the Devon Pensioners' Action Forum have made similar protests, paying only a 1.7% increase in their bills - the equivalent of their pension rise.

The rise in Devon was nearly 18% last year, sparking calls by pensioners for a new tax based on ability to pay, not the value of a person's home.

In February Ms Hardy fought a county council seat as part of her bid to fight the charge.

Standing as an independent, she polled 351 votes in the Exeter St David's and Pennsylvania ward by-election.

The forum intends to fight all 54 seats on Devon County Council next year.

Rebel pensioner defiant
11 Feb 04  |  Devon
Hundreds ordered to pay tax
25 Feb 04  |  Devon

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