Yesterday we were at the Norwich Magistrates Court to support Barbara Lockwood (in the purple) as she was hauled back, yet again, for refusing to pay council tax increases.
This time, however, instead of the usual council solicitor marching in, standing up, reading a prepared statement and the magistrates nodding it through and ruling against Barbara, something different happened.
As we were outside the magistrates’ court waiting to be called in, the Local Taxation Manager at Broadland district council asked Barbara for a chat, to work things out and to see if she could pay the levies.
After a very useful, constructive and helpful discussion, the officials agreed to adjourn the case to work with Barbara over the next few months to see if a deal can be reached. We stated very firmly that was the best course of action – it wouldn’t have looked good for the authorities to have released Ronnie Biggs from the Norwich prison only to make room for poor old Barbara Lockwood.
Incidentally, there was a very revealing exchange between the Taxation Manager, Simon Quilter, and the judge. For those who intend on withholding the coming council tax increases (not that we can recommend that course of action) this snippet of information may come in useful.
Should your council tax debt exceed £1,000, then a charging order can be put upon your house if it is a private residence. If it’s a council house, then you’re in trouble because the council will likely take severe action.
Only if the debt exceeds £750 can the council move to make you bankrupt. Thankfully, Barbara owes significantly less than that, giving the authorities little room to act except from dragging her to court and sending the bailiffs round (which is not exactly playing with kid gloves).
Thank you to all the supporters who came along to cheer Barbara on. Over the past two and a half years we’ve had a team of supporters turning up again and again to stand by Barbara. Now we’ve got a result, the council have shown some welcome flexibility that will provide momentum for our campaign and hope to those who can now see that our campaigning has paid off.