Thursday, 19 February 2004

83 year old rebel

Clive Summerfield @ Thursday, February 19, 2004
Mrs Elizabeth Winkfield, 83, is up before magistrates in Barnstaple today for failure to pay her council tax. However, this is not a case of total non-payment, as Mrs Winkfield has paid all bar £98.99 of her £787.81 bill. Her reason for withholding the balance is quite simple, she is objecting to a rise in council tax of nearly 18% last year.

18% is excessive by anyone's reckoning, but it makes you wonder where it is going. Councils can't have just become drastically more inefficient of the last 12 months, so there must be some other reasons as well.

How about local government pensions? At a time when many have seen their occupational schemes wound up, or seen the value of their personal pensions decimated by stock market losses and mis-selling over recent years, it must be galling to see their local council employees still able to take early retirement with substantial pension benefits. Why should the typical council tax payer be bailing out local government pensions at a time when they've seen their own future security vanish? Local government schemes should be run to the same standards as schemes in other sectors.

Meanwhile The UK Today would suggest than anyone faced with an unreasonable rise in council tax follows Mrs Winkfield's sterling example, and refuse to pay more than a cost of living increase of 2.8%.

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