Pensioner in council tax protest jailed for a week

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The Independent Online

In court, Ms Hardy refused a last chance to pay the tax on her £130,000 flat in Exeter and was sentenced, to cheers of support from 40 fellow anti-council tax campaigners. The group has said it will continue its demonstration outside Eastwood Park Prison in Gloucestershire until Ms Hardy is released next week.

The magistrates' chairman, Louis Crowden, told Ms Hardy: "If everyone paid their debts on the basis of what they thought appropriate, this country would descend into anarchy. You have been given every chance to pay and have wilfully refused." He said that the court had no choice but to jail Ms Hardy, telling her: "You may think you are a martyr but you are not."

Ms Hardy told the court she withheld part of her tax because her annual bill had increased by 50 per cent in the past 10 years. She said she was also "required to pay the highest water rate in the country, and ever-increasing payments for gas, electricity, telephone, etc, well above the inflation rate". She added: "Letters and lobbying to MPs and councillors have fallen on deaf ears. Throughout history, people have fought to change laws which are unjust, and often the only way to do this is to break the law and to accept the punishment.''

On 7 September, Alfred Ridler, 71, a former vicar, was jailed for 28 days for not paying council tax. He was given a suspended sentence in July for not paying arrears which he owed to South Northamptonshire council.

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