Tax row pensioner 'fights on'

PUBLISHED: 07:45 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

A defiant Norfolk grandmother has vowed to continue her fight against "outrageous" council tax hikes yesterday, despite being threatened with bailiffs.

A defiant Norfolk grandmother has vowed to continue her fight against "outrageous" council tax hikes yesterday, despite being threatened with bailiffs.

Veteran campaigner Barbara Lockwood said she would go to prison rather than shell out £643.47 owed to Broadland Council.

Appearing at Norwich Magistrates Court yesterday, the 74-year-old tried to get the case against her thrown out because she was sent two figures for what she owes - the second £200 less than the original - which she said was confusing and unacceptable.

The pensioner, who represented herself, also said she had not been able to research her case because the law under which the order had been made had not been stipulated in her summons. But, in front of a packed public bench, chairman John Farrow dismissed the challenge and ordered her to pay up.

It came on the day a Derbyshire pensioner jailed for not paying her council tax forgave the benefactor who so enraged her by clearing the debt to secure her release.

Josephine Rooney vowed to continue her non-payment campaign in a row over council services - and urged nobody to repeat the good deed should she be sent back to prison.

Miss Rooney, 69, was jailed for three months on Monday after she refused to pay Derby City Council the £798 in council tax she owed in protest at the state of her street.

Mrs Lockwood - who has lived alone in her Hellesdon bungalow since her husband Russell died in 2003 - has been paying some of her council tax but refused to foot the bill for any increases last year.

She now also owes all of the council tax from this April to March 2007.

After the hearing, Mrs Lockwood told the EDP: "I live on £7,000 a year from state pension and my husband's occupational pension and I simply cannot afford to pay these outrageous council tax increases. I have been paying what I can afford."

Mrs Lockwood, who was also summonsed to court in 2004 for non payment, said she would appeal.

"I don't even have £600 in the bank. I am prepared to go to prison if that's what it takes," she added.

Angi Doy, spokeswoman for Broadland Council, said: "This was a much-publicised protest about the system of taxation. However we cannot treat Mrs Lockwood any differently from any other person who had not paid their council tax.

"We shall be writing to Mrs Lockwood requesting payment of the monies owed. We will set out in our letter what steps the resident should take if she hasn't the means to pay, we would ask her to provide us with information about her income and expenditure and draw up an agreed payment schedule based on her ability to pay.

"If the bill remained unpaid the next recourse we would have would be to pass the matter of debt recovery to bailiffs."

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