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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Tax rebel receives court summons
Sylvia Hardy
Sylvia Hardy's arrears were paid by a mystery donor against her wishes
Council tax rebel Sylvia Hardy could be facing a second prison term after being summonsed again over non-payment.

The 73-year-old will appear at Exeter Magistrates' Court later this month for withholding part of this year's tax.

The summons arrived 10 days after she was released from Eastwood Park Prison in Gloucestershire after serving two days of a seven-day sentence.

Ms Hardy said the summons meant her protest was "back to square one".

Pensioners' support

She said: "There will be a liability order, then the bailiffs, then committal to the courts, who will give me a sentence. It does take a while."

However, she said she was prepared to go to jail again and wanted to serve her full jail term, adding that well-wishers should not pay her outstanding council tax bill.

The retired social worker from Exeter was jailed for refusing to pay an increase above the rate of inflation on last year's tax bill.

But she was freed early after a mysterious "Mr Brown" paid the 53.71 council tax arrears.

Ms Hardy said the payment had been made against her express wishes, but prison officials were duty-bound to release her.

Radical change

She has argued that the council tax is unfair on retired people and her actions have attracted the support of the Devon Pensioners' Action Forum

She said she had received more than 300 letters of support over her stance, including two from serving magistrates.

Ms Hardy added: "I am pretty certain the campaign is moving on. It is very fortunate it coincided with the Labour Party conference.

But she predicted there would be no change to the council tax system for the next few years.

She said: "I think we are all prepared to have to wait that long, but I would be disappointed if there wasn't some radical change just before the election.

"They would be very foolish if they chose to ignore us."


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