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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
New prison threat to rebel Sylvia
Council tax protester Sylvia Hardy - PA
Sylvia Hardy was given a liability order to pay the outstanding tax
Pensioner council tax rebel Sylvia Hardy is facing another jail sentence after a court told her to pay this year's bill.

Magistrates ordered Ms Hardy, 73, from Exeter, to settle the 323 she owes on her 2005-06 tax bill, plus 30 costs, within 28 days.

Last month she served two days of a seven-day sentence for failing to pay 53 of last year's tax.

Outside court, she told 40 supporters she was ready to go to jail again.

The retired social worker told the court on Monday that over the past four years her occupational pension had risen a total of 6.8% as against a total increase of 38.1% in council tax for her two-bedroom flat in the city.

On top of the 708 council tax bill, Ms Hardy said utility charges were rising "way over inflation".

Mystery benefactor

If they were all paid in full "my quality of life would disappear entirely, and I am not prepared to make that sacrifice," said Ms Hardy.

Members of the Devon Pensioners Action Forum supported Ms Hardy inside and outside court.

The Exeter City Council summons arrived at Ms Hardy's home 10 days after she was released from Eastwood Park Prison, Gloucestershire.

Ms Hardy was released early from prison in September after a man calling himself Mr Brown paid her outstanding bill.

She has applied under the Freedom of Information Act to find out the identity of her benefactor and hopes to have more information early next month.

The pensioner said if she was imprisoned again she wanted to serve her full jail term, She has appealed to well-wishers not to pay her outstanding tax.

She said that since her last court appearance she had received more than 400 letters of support and only a handful against.


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