Council tax rebel to face court action
By Jonathan BarnesAN 85-year-old man is being taken to court for refusing to pay the record-breaking 18.5% rise in council tax.Richard Cater has been paying only an extra 3% on last year's bill - the rate of inflation - and said he was taking a stand against the “outrageous” hike in Suffolk.
By Jonathan Barnes
AN 85-year-old man is being taken to court for refusing to pay the record-breaking 18.5% rise in council tax.
Richard Cater has been paying only an extra 3% on last year's bill - the rate of inflation - and said he was taking a stand against the “outrageous” hike in Suffolk.
The pensioner is set to appear before magistrates on August 27 for failing to meet the monthly payments after Ipswich Borough Council, which collects the cash, launched legal proceedings against him.
Mr Cater, of Tuddenham Road, Ipswich, is believed to be the first council tax “rebel” in the county to face prosecution.
“Like Winston Churchill said, sometimes you have to stand up for what you think is right,” he said.
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“I'm not doing this for myself. I'm a better position to pay than some people, who just can't afford these charges.
“It is outrageous what they are charging, especially when they seem to be spending money on so many unnecessary things.
“I don't want to do this, I'm 85 years old and all I want is a peaceful life, but I feel I should do something about it.”
Suffolk County Council's share of the tax rose by 18.5% in 2003/04, while the increase in Ipswich Borough Council's share was 11.9%.
Mr Cater, a retired schoolmaster who lives with his son, has only been including a 3% increase on last year's charge - to tie in with inflation - in his monthly payments since April.
He has been paying £110 a month - 3% on last year's charge of about £106 - rather than the required amount of £126.
Mr Cater has also been campaigning against the rises as member of the Protest Against Council Tax Suffolk.
He has received warning notes about his failure to pay the full amount and a final notice and summons, but has stood firm.
“I'm very worried about the court case. I've never had the indignity of being hauled in front of the law, but it hasn't changed my mind,” said Mr Cater, a veteran of the Second World War.
“The only thing is I'm concerned about bailiffs clearing out my possessions - I would rather go to prison first.”
Simon Attwood, local tax manager at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “What we are doing is normal standard recovery - we are not singling him out.
“He has not been paying the correct instalments in his bill and we have to take the normal reminder and summons action to achieve the payments he should be making. He has been paying every month, just not the right amount.
“He has been in correspondence with me and I drew his attention to how he was in danger of receiving a summons. He knew the position.”
Mr Attwood added: “We have got to be consistent to other taxpayers, some of whom are in a similar and, no doubt, worse position than he is in terms of being able to afford it.
“Lots of people suggested they might only pay a 3% increase, but he is the only one I am aware of who is actually doing it.”
Mr Attwood said if Mr Cater still refused to pay after the court action, the council would take recovery action and hope to come to an arrangement with him then.