A defiant grandmother who vowed to fight against "outrageous" council tax hikes, despite being threatened with prison, has died aged 90.

Back in 2006, veteran campaigner Barbara Lockwood said she would go to jail rather than shell out the £643.47 owed to Broadland District Council.

An advocate for people's rights, her activism had first been sparked by anger at Margaret Thatcher's controversial poll tax in 1990.

Eastern Daily Press:

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood ready for a rally in London

Mrs Lockwood, who had lived alone in her Hellesdon bungalow since her husband Russell died in 2003, paid some of her council tax but refused to foot the bill for any increases

Speaking to this newspaper at the time, she said: “I am prepared to go to prison if that's what it takes.” 

She gained national attention after appearing at Norwich Magistrates' Court at the age of 74, representing herself.

The case against her was eventually thrown out after a mysterious donor paid her bill. 

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood outside Norwich Magistrates' Court

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood makes the headlines

But it was never about the money, as her daughter, Julie Kidd, explained. 

“The day before she went to court, she asked me pack all her things away as she was convinced she was going to jail,” she said. 

“It was not that she wouldn't pay it - she was really good with figures – she just worked out how much it had gone up compared to what she took in.  

“She just thought council tax, and its hikes, was grossly unfair. 

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood being interviewed outside of court in Norwich

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood walking to court

“She always said she did not do much in her life but when you get down to it, she did do a jolly lot of things.” 

Barbara Rose Sexton was born in Norwich on December 10, 1932, and grew up in the Old Catton and Horsham St Faith. 

She was the eldest, and only girl, of four. 

As a baby, she underwent kidney removal surgery and lived her entire life with just one.

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood on her wedding day in 1953, to Russell Lockwood

A lover of wine, joining a wine-making guild in adulthood, she would always follow up a glass of pinot or merlot with a mug of warm water. 

She attended Old Catton school on Church Street, where it was discovered she had sight problems after struggling to read the blackboard.  

She became the only person in the school to wear glasses. This marked her out and her family believe it may have later given rise to her determination and activism.

After school, she went on to study dressmaking at the then Norwich School of Design, before going on to work in the shoe industry after obtaining the necessary certificates. 

Eastern Daily Press:

She married Russel Lockwood, an engineer at Laurence Scott Ltd, in October 1953, and together they had three daughters. 

She would continue her dress making when her two eldest daughters were young, creating dozens of ballroom dresses as they trained. 

During this time, she converted an old ice cream van and sold refreshments in her local park. 

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Mrs Kidd added: “She just had a great understanding of people and how they wanted to be treated. 

“If things were not correct, then she always wanted to try and put concerns forward to help everyone, not just for herself. 

“It wasn't just poll tax and council tax, but also anything else she thought was unfair.” 

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood celebrates outside of court in Norwich

As well as setting up the group FACT (Folk Against Council Tax) and organising rallies in London, she forged links with the Taxpayers' Alliance. 

She also volunteered her time to work alongside Ian Gibson, the then Labour MP for Norwich North - despite not always agreeing with his values - and Norwich Open Christmas.

She also raised money for the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind (now Vision Norfolk). 

Finally, she was passionate about advocating against the closure of nursing homes, and would often look after pensioners despite being one herself. 

Eastern Daily Press: Barbara Lockwood at Norwich Open Christmas

She was also a creative individual and enjoyed playing the family piano as a youngster until her mother sold it.  

She shared a love of music with her grandson, who performed a medley of Johnny Cash songs at her funeral.

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A member of the International Society of Poets, she also wrote stories and poetry.  

Mrs Lockwood died in hospital following a fall on March 21, 2023.  

  • The family have requested to hear from anyone who may have known Barbara Lockwood by calling 07712626411.