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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Pensioner prepared to go to jail
Sylvia Hardy
Ms Hardy vows to continue her "won't pay, not can't pay" campaign
A Devon pensioner has been given a suspended seven-day prison sentence for refusing to pay all her council tax.

Sylvia Hardy, 73, of Barrack Road, Exeter, is continuing to refuse to pay the outstanding 63.71 she owes Exeter City Council.

Magistrates told Ms Hardy the debt must be paid within 56 days otherwise they have the option to send her to prison.

Outside court on Monday, Ms Hardy called the tax "daylight robbery" and said she would not be paying it.

If you start on direct action you've got to go the whole way
Sylvia Hardy

She said her pension simply cannot keep up with the rises in council tax.

Ms Hardy said: "We've tried all the other methods - talking to the councillors, the MPs, writing letters you name it.

"But it still went on and we feel we've got to do something and if you start on direct action you've got to go the whole way. It's no good giving up half way or they've won."

Members of the Devon Pensioners' Action Forum had earlier tried to stop officials entering the Exeter court.

Passing sentence, the chairman of the bench told Mrs Hardy she had now had her day in court. He urged her to pay the outstanding amount and not become a martyr.

Last year the 73-year-old wrote to Exeter City Council, asking them not to accept any donations or payments on her behalf, after they had accepted a cheque to pay her bill following a court appearance.

Ms Hardy is due to appear before the court again in August.

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