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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 14:08 GMT
Pensioner defiant on council tax
Sylvia Hardy
Ms Hardy said she was prepared to go to prison
A Devon pensioner has appeared in court for the second time over her refusal to pay her council tax in full.

Sylvia Hardy, 72, of Barrack Road, Exeter, was summonsed to the city magistrates court for non payment of 323.71 in council tax.

She was one of 263 people made the subject of liability orders, as campaigners warned of more protests.

Ms Hardy, who says she is prepared to go to prison, says her pension cannot keep up with council tax rises.

Exeter City Council accepted a cheque to pay Ms Hardy's bill after her last appearance in February.

Prison threat

But Ms Hardy has now written to the council tax department asking them not to accept any donations or payments on her behalf.

About 20 placard-waving supporters of the Devon Pensioners Action Forum (DPAF) showed their support as retired social worker Ms Hardy arrived in court.

Ms Hardy said after the case that she was still prepared to go to prison rather than pay.

She said: "The more determined we are, hopefully the more people will listen to us and helps us change the system.

"This time I am determined that no-one else will be allowed to pay my bill for me."

'Disobedience'

Albert Venison, chairman of the DPAF, warned of a new wave of protesters clogging up the courts.

He said: "You are going to get civil disobedience and all sorts of things.

"This is going to build up over the next three of four months in exactly the same as the hunting protests."

Although last year's rise in Devon was well above inflation, Ms Hardy insists she will only pay an extra 1.7% in council tax - the equivalent of the rise in her state pension.

A liability order requires people to pay in full. If they do not do so, the council will return to court to get an order to send in bailiffs. They can recover goods to the value of the shortfall.

Only in the event of this measure failing can non-payers be committed to prison.




SEE ALSO:
Rebel pensioner defiant
11 Feb 04 |  Devon


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