Pensioners are still revolting over tax

THE pensioners' revolt against council tax rises is gathering strength after a 71-year-old man pledged to serve a prison sentence rather than pay his bill.

THE pensioners' revolt against council tax rises is gathering strength after a 71-year-old man pledged to serve a prison sentence rather than pay his bill.

But the Suffolk County Councillors who agreed the 18.5% hike earlier this year have defended the rise, insisting it will result in improved services for council taxpayers across the board.

Former serviceman Donald Andrews from Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, said he felt insulted by the council's treatment of pensioners, and pledged to wage war on the officials who passed the increase.

Mr Andrews, who served with both the Metropolitan Police and Royal Fusiliers, once also carried out protection duties for the Queen and Winston Churchill.

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But the pensioner, who now acts as a carer for his 64-year-old deaf and blind wife Jill, said he can no longer make ends meet, due to the discrepancy between his increase in income, through his pension, and the council tax bill he must pay.

"I intend to wage war against Suffolk County Council and this government, then it will be their responsibility to house and feed me in prison," said Mr Andrews,

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His Band A property levy has risen from £650 to £773 each year.

Together with his wife, Mr Andrews has received a £4.36 pension rise a week.

"If I go to prison, social services will have to take over my job as unpaid carer to my totally blind and deaf wife. They will have to put her on income support and pay her tax and rent, but I cannot see how I can possibly be any worse off than I am at present. I have no savings accounts or building society accounts. In fact, I have nothing."

At the end of last month, former magistrate Betty Bone from Sudbury, handed a petition signed by 1,400 residents to county council representatives.

Speaking at the time, she said: "If the worst comes to the worst, I'm willing to go to prison, but I hope that a significant number of pensioners will follow this lead and then there won't be enough room in prison for all of us.

Mr Andrews added: "I am sure we are not the only pensioners in this position but I feel I must make a stand against this council tax rise. And having served my country for all these years makes it even harder to swallow."

Cllr David Rowe, portfolio holder for strategic and financial planning at the county council, said: "The issue of payment and collection of council tax is the responsibility of the district or borough council.

"We know the 18.5% increase in our portion of council tax is high, and acknowledge that it will be difficult for some residents to find the extra money.

"But spending for older people and improving our services for them is at the heart of the budget we have set."

A spokesman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which is responsible for collecting council tax for the county council, said anyone who does not pay their levy will be sent a reminder. If this is ignored, a summons for magistrates court is issued, and a prison sentence of up to 90 days can follow.

But although most prisoners are exempt from paying council tax, those imprisoned for non-payment are still expected to pay.

Mr Andrews is keen to hear from any other pensioners struggling with their council tax bills. He can be emailed at

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