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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Pair risk prison over council tax
A retired clergyman and his wife say they will go to jail rather than pay their council tax increase in protest over the system.

Alfred and Una Ridley, both 70, from Towcester, owe 596.15, claim South Northamptonshire District Council.

On Wednesday, Towcester magistrates issued a liability order, which means that they will have to go back to court if they do not pay up.

The couple insisted they would not make the payment on a matter of principle.

It takes no account of people's ability to pay and this hits those on low fixed-incomes and pensioners
Alfred Ridley
A court packed with the Ridleys' supporters heard Alison Sharman , prosecuting, say the pair had been issued with demand notices and a reminder before being ordered to court.

"I'm a protester against the council tax system," Mr Ridley told magistrates.

"It takes no account of people's ability to pay and this hits those on low fixed-incomes and pensioners. It makes day-to-day living very difficult."

Mr Ridley said the council tax for 2004 to 2005 had increased by 8.5% against the backdrop of what he called "appalling" wastage.

Mr Ridley said he was paying council tax at last year's rate, plus an amount to cover inflation, until August, when the summons was issued.

Determined to fight

His wife, a part-time music teacher, stood by his side in the dock.

She later told magistrates that pensioners had suffered because of the widening gap between state pensions and council tax.

Magistrates' chairman Wendy Huckaby said she understood what they were doing, but had to issue a liability order.

Speaking outside court, Mrs Ridley said she was determined to fight the "unfairness" of the issue by going to prison if necessary.

"I've never been to prison so I can't get my head around what it would be like," she said.

"I don't look upon it as a jolly or an easy thing to do so I would have to take it realistically when it happened to me."


SEE ALSO:
Tax rebel, 86, ready for prison
06 Sep 04  |  Suffolk
Woman 'ready for jail' over tax
03 Sep 04  |  South East Wales



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