[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 20:31 GMT 21:31 UK
Council tax woman, 85, risks jail
Beryl Pearce
Beryl Pearce has four grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way
A former RAF nurse protesting against "unfair" council tax bills for older people says she is prepared for jail.

Beryl Pearce, 85, has refused to pay two months of her annual 941 bill and owes Test Valley Borough Council 86.

Mrs Pearce was summoned to Andover Magistrates' Court on Tuesday where the council was granted a liability order.

The order gives extra powers to the council to pursue the debt. But the grandmother remained adamant. "It's a case of heat or eat," she said.

I'm not really worried about prison, I have been through worse things in my life
Grandmother Beryl Pearce

Mrs Pearce, a nursing orderly during Word War II, believes the government has ignored calls to make the tax fairer for the elderly.

The mother-of-two, from Andover, who will be 86 next month, said: "We have had petitions to parliament, marches. They have taken absolutely no notice.

"With the prisons being full - there's a lot of us doing this - they will have a problem and will have to think about what they are doing.

"I think it really is unfair. We are all paying the same for accommodation, for people on a pension it's a struggle.

"It's a case of heat or eat - where's the justice in that?

"I have worked since I was 14 and I have served my country. I have nursed in old people's homes since the war."

'Custodial sentence'

The widow, who has four grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way, added: "I'm not really worried about prison.

"I have been through worse things in my life.

"I'm not worried about going to jail. I think it would only be for a month.

"Some people are rich and it's a small amount they are having to pay out of their income, and yet a little old lady is paying nearly all her income in tax."

A council spokeswoman said: "A custodial sentence is a last resort and we would hope to resolve it before it got to that stage."

Council tax protests spread
26 Jun 03 |  Business
Elderly groups plan tax campaign
04 Feb 04 |  Scotland

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific