Council tax protest OAP closer to jail
A PENSIONER who says he'd rather go to jail than pay his council tax remained defiant on Monday when Lynn magistrates ordered him to pay up.
Veteran soldier Richard Fitzmaurice (74), of Heacham, is refusing to pay a penny, despite being given just 14 days to pay his council tax in full – just under 1,300.
Failure to pay will result in bailiffs being sent to his home in Ringstead Road, and if that fails he could be jailed for up to three months.
The great-grandfather appeared in court on a summons for non-payment of almost 400 he owes West Norfolk Council so far on his Band D home.
He has refused to pay since the last increase in April and although he can afford it, he decided to take a stand because of its "blatant abuse" of pensioners.
He has objected to council tax rises for many years, but he said the "last straw" came when taxpayers' money was used to pay a 23,000 legal bill racked up by Tory council leader John Dobson when he hired a lawyer to defend himself against Labour allegations.
Presiding magistrate Norman Jelliman told Mr Fitzmaurice the council was acting properly in now asking for the full amount.
Imposing a liability order requiring him to pay in full, he said: "You have to realise the council deals with thousands of council taxpayers. There has to be rules otherwise there would be chaos. It can't change those rules to suit particular individuals."
Mr Fitzmaurice told magistrates he would not pay up, and outside the court he said he was still prepared to go to prison.
"Once I've been to jail I know I will have to eventually pay, and I will, but I am going to jail first to show my protest is sincere.
"I am protesting not for myself but for all the other pensioners who can't afford their council tax. I know the difference between right and wrong, and I'm not the kind of chap who would break the law willingly, but I am doing this out of principle."
Mr Dobson hired the 250-an-hour lawyer to defend a complaint made by Labour councillor David Berry to the local Government watchdog, the Standards Board for England, alleging Mr Dobson used his position to extend the contract of a council officer.
He was initially found guilty of breaching its code of conduct, but Mr Dobson's lawyer overturned the findings before it reached the board.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for King's Lynn
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 10 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North