Tax protest goes to County Hall

By Patrick LowmanA PENSIONER who is leading the revolt against a 18.5% increase in council tax bills is to lobby County Hall and the officials responsible for the rise.

By Patrick Lowman

A PENSIONER who is leading the revolt against a 18.5% increase in council tax bills is to lobby County Hall and the officials responsible for the rise.

Betty Bone, from Sudbury, launched the Petition for Pensioners campaign last month after becoming infuriated by the council tax hike approved by Suffolk County Council.

She has now gained more than 1,300 signatures from people across the county backing her campaign.


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Mrs Bone she is now demanding a meeting with Suffolk County Council's budget portfolio holder, David Rowe, at County Hall in Ipswich.

Together with a party of her supporters, she will gather at the Suffolk County Council headquarters later this week to hand over the petition and to demand talks with Mr Rowe.

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Mrs Bone, of Nonsuch Meadow, said: "What has happened makes me choke with rage, the 18.5% rate just can not be justified. Pensioners all over the county will not be able to meet this increase and many will be left in poverty.

"We will travel to County Hall sometime this week to hand over the signature and demand talks with Mr Rowe to tell him exactly what we think. We are determined to make someone listen to us."

The ruling Labour-Liberal Democrat executive has blamed the 18.5% increase in its council tax bills for 2003/4 on a lack of Government funding.

The rise will take its bill for the average band D property to almost £1,000 a year in Suffolk – but the final demands will be far higher once the levy from borough or district councils and Suffolk Police Authority have been added.

Mr Rowe said he was willing to meet Mrs Bone to collect the petition, but added a date for the meeting had yet to be finalised.

n A proposal to formally criticise Suffolk County Council for increasing its share of the council tax by 18.5% has been defeated.

Woodbridge Town Council was asked by Ben Redsell, a Conservative councillor, to write to the county council to "deplore" the tax rise and express its displeasure to the chief executive and council leader.

He was backed by Conservative councillors Jim Norris, who complained about the small pension increase, and Cliff Cocker, who criticised the council for spending money on a new headquarters and a park and ride facility in Martlesham, but motion was lost by two votes.

Roy Burgon, a Labour councillor, said he deplored the appearance on the town council agenda of Mr Redsell's motion and branded it a political manoeuvre in the run-up to the May elections.

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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