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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 12:37 GMT
Court forces pensioner to pay tax
Fred Estall
Fred Estall said the experience had been very stressful
An 80-year-old who refused to pay his council tax has backed down after a court gave his local authority the power to recover the debt.

War veteran Fred Estall had refused to pay the full amount due on his home in Hedge End, Hampshire, because it rose by 17% this year while his pension increased by only 4.5%.

The pensioner was also unhappy that after he refused to pay, Eastleigh Borough Council officers did not come and visit him but instead started legal proceedings.

But, on Thursday, Southampton magistrates said the council had met its regulations under the law and imposed a liability order to recover 452 worth of outstanding council tax plus 30 costs.

This has been very stressful and has impinged on my human rights - I think it's disgusting
Fred Estall

During the hearing, Mr Estall said: "This may be a court of law but it's not a court of justice.

"People out there are fed up in the way we are treated. It's an utter disgrace."

Speaking outside the court Mr Estall, who came to court with about 20 supporters, said he would now pay the outstanding amount because he did not want to go to prison.

He said: "I do not object to paying rates, I want my dustbins emptied and the street cleaned but I object to the money that these people waste and every year they ask us for more money and us silly old people pay up.

"I was very annoyed about the rise in council tax so I cancelled my standing order even though I had paid my rates for 20 years.

'It is disgusting'

"I thought that someone would come round to discuss the problem with me because I am an 80-year-old who could have had a stroke or something, but instead they just took me to court.

"This has been very stressful and has impinged on my human rights. I think it's disgusting."

A spokesperson for the council said: "If people do not pay then the burden falls on those who do.

"While we understand Mr Estall's concerns about increasing council tax bills, the borough council's element of this year's bill to Mr Estall increased by 5.44 - approx 10p per week."

"Staff will now be contacting Mr Estall to request payment of the outstanding sum to avoid the need for any further legal action."



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