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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Rebel tax vicar could face jail
Rev Alfred Ridley and his wife Una
Rev Ridley was told he faces jail if his refusal continues
A retired vicar has been given a suspended prison sentence after he refused to pay a council tax increase.

Reverend Alfred Ridley, 71, appeared before magistrates in his home town of Towcester in Northamptonshire.

He is still refusing to pay the full 8.5% council tax rise imposed by South Northants Council for 2004-2005. The outstanding amount owed is 63.

On Wednesday, Mr Ridley was given a 28-day suspended sentence and told he faces jail if his refusal continues.

On a point of principle Mr Ridley said he and his 70-year-old wife, Una, paid only a 2.5% rise, in line with the rate of inflation at the time.

They have threatened me with prison all the way through but they do not want to do it
Alfred Ridley

Mr Ridley was due in court in May but magistrates put off the hearing, ordering him to pay up or face possible jail.

The total in outstanding tax, plus court costs which Mr Ridley owes, is 680.

On Wednesday, magistrates warned him that the jail term would be imposed if he fails to pay before the 28 days are up.

Outside court Mr Ridley said: "I won't pay. My point is that councils are asking for more than people on low incomes can afford.

"In my view, they [councils] are not entitled to the money and they do not need it. They are wasting money."

'Individuals treated equally'

Mr Ridley retired as both a vicar and rector in 1994 but still preaches at churches in Peterborough.

A council spokesperson said: "Pensioners are treated no differently than any other members of the public who are liable for council tax.

"Whilst we understand the position of Mr and Mrs Ridley, the council has to treat all individuals the same with regard to the law.

"The issue of council tax increases above the rate of inflation is a much wider one than South Northamptonshire Council is entitled to deal with and is an ongoing government concern."

Tax rebel vicar ready for prison
18 May 05 |  Northamptonshire
Pair risk prison over council tax
08 Sep 04 |  Northamptonshire

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