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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 14:31 GMT
Red card protest over tax rise
Red card protesters at Devon County Council
Protesters tried to 'send off' Devon County Council
Members of Devon County Council have been shown the red card at a budget-setting meeting.

Members of the public, who were mostly pensioners, waved red cards as part of a protest over plans to increase council tax.

Councillors continued with their meeting in the chamber at County Hall in Exeter and the protesters left.

Councillors are expected to approve the 4.9% increase. The protesters are threatening to withhold payments.

We've suggested how it could be put right. We're the people who know, let us tell you how to do it
Albert Venison

As the meeting started, protest leader Albert Venison attempted to address the councillors, though without a microphone.

Exeter resident Terry Griffin then took the floor during public question time.

After producing a red card and blowing a whistle, he said he was "sending the council off". Several other people in the public gallery then also produced red cards.

Councillors continued with their meeting and the pensioners left.

But the protesters said they would be try a new financial tactic: not paying all the tax bill's monthly instalments.

15m shortfall

Protest leader Albert Venison said: "At the end of this year 2006, from 1 January we're saying: 'Do not pay any more council tax that you owe for the year. Let's see what happens'.

"They've got nine months to put it right, we've suggested how it could be put right. We're the people who know, let us tell you how to do it."

Councillors are expected to approve the increase, which comes into force in April.

Devon County Council said the rise was necessary because it was facing a 15m shortfall in its budget.

It said this was because of increasing use of services, such as social care support, and rises in costs in other areas, such as road maintenance; plus cuts in government grant funding.


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