Today the TPA and our supporters were at the Haywards Heath magistrates’ court – along with some members of Isitfair – to support Terry Reilly who was protesting his above inflation council tax bill today.
Below you can read Terry's powerful statement that sums up the iniquity, incoherence and injustice associated with the Council Tax system:
"I plead not guilty under-paying £143.95 but I will admit to paying £450 more than I should have done.
As a lone pensioner I have paid £6000 to Mod Sussex District Council in the last 5 years in Council Tax. Whereas a family in the average dwelling in Manchester have paid £3,800. I am not a Council Tax rebel I am a Council Tax victim.
I attended this court in October last year and was given a number of assurances that were later denied. The assurances were given by Miss Cordery and Mrs Evans of Mid Sussex District Council and, because of them I was persuaded by them not to appear before the magistrates. My integrity was called into question by someone in Mid Sussex District Council who did not like the newspaper reports and I can no longer trust Mid Sussex District Council.
I wrote to this court to ascertain what judgment was held against me. I will read the response to you
“With reference to your letter dated 12/01/09 we would advise you that we have passed your letter on the Mid Sussex District Council for them to deal with . We do not keep a record of any individual council matters heard at court as the Council merely use the court as a venue to conduct their matters”
… I am concerned that a Court of Law does not keep records and I have to approach the prosecutors for such information.
I became aware of the seriousness of the situation in 2003-4 when Council Tax went up nationally by 12% but in Mid Sussex it went up by 18.4% repeat – 18.4%
I then realised this was unsustainable and would lead to problems for pensioners, and those of fixed incomes and the lower-paid. The Audit Commission report also read “A general pattern emerges which shows that regions in the South with lower grant increases had higher council tax increases and those in the midlands and the North with higher grant increases had lower council tax”
From time to time I have written to Central Government and the responses have been arrogant and patronising. For example, when I asked why Mid Sussex District Council had increased council tax by 154.4% in 11 years I was told that they had acted “within the rules” and the government would not defend me. I was also told that I could get free eye-tests, and council tax benefit was available when I had run out of money. I have also had meetings with my MP and have exhausted all the channels available to me.
Let me mention ‘Relative Resource Amount (RRA) . This allows central government to assume that in the South-East everyone is wealthy because property costs more. In 2008-9 West Sussex was surcharged £127 million whereas Durham was surcharged £40 million. Government grant /head was £124 in West Sussex but £300 in Durham.
Council tax for ‘average dwellings were as follows:-
Elmbridge (Surrey) £1692
Mid Sussex £1444
This is the effect of political manipulation by central government by more than £600 per average dwelling
The government have decided that because I live in West Sussex I can pay more Council Tax than Jack Straw; Hazel Blears; John Prescott and Tony Blair
With a few exceptions (one being Westminster) the government have decided that if you live in a part of the country that does not have a Labour MP you will be punished financially .
If aid is required for some parts of the country let it be transparent and not from the pockets of pensioners in the South-East.
In 2004-5 when I first paid my council tax in line with the RPI the difference was £32.15, five years down the line it is now £143.95 which is more than 11/2 times the basic state pension, which, I remind you is the same amount nationwide. Mid Sussex District Council as agents of central government have attempted to rob me of 11/2 week’s state pension. This does not accord with pronouncements by government agencies and councils that we, the elderly should be cared for and respected.
As of February 19th 2009 158 people owed £1000 or more council tax for 2007-8 Also, 459 owe over £1000 for 2008-9. This is in excess of £600,000. Where are these people?
I am a pensioner who has lived in this country since birth, and I am a law-abiding Christian. I do not own a baseball bat or a Rottweiler, and, I am therefore a soft target. I have to pay for all my needs including my own videos; bath-plugs and barbecues!
I have control over my water consumption by meter. I can turn down the thermostat and wear extra clothing to minimise my heating bills. There is no escape however from this iniquitous and regressive tax which is politically manipulated.
Perhaps an adjournment to call a representative from Mid Sussex District Council to confirm or deny the validity of my figures would be appropriate, also, to confirm or deny that we in West Sussex are being taken advantage of. If we look around, we do not see bankers, MP’s, Doctors accountants etc. We see retired people on fixed income and the lower paid. They have one thing in common – they are hurting.
I urge you to not only sympathise with the plight of thousands of pensioners but to make it clear that you will not tolerate the political and financial abuse that I have outlined and I plead with you to find in my favour
I thank you for your time and courtesy."
Please pass this blog onto the leader of Mid Sussex District Council, Cllr. Gordon Marples (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tell him that we're overtaxed and reiterate the points in Terry's statement above.
If you can spare the time, please also send this blog onto Mid Sussex district councillors who can be contacted on the following email addresses:
Cllr Andrew MacNaughton - email@example.com
Cllr Gary Marsh - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Stephen Barnett - email@example.com
Cllr Susan Seward - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Andrew Barrett-Miles - email@example.com
Cllr Jacquir Landriani - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Heather Ross - email@example.com
Cllr Julian Thorpe - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Anne Jones - email@example.com
Cllr Pru Moore - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Patrick Cutler - email@example.com
Cllr Kathleen Dumbovic - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Graham Knight - email@example.com
Cllr Janice Henwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Eileen Balsdon - email@example.com
Cllr Mandy Thomas-Atkin - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Sophia Harrison - email@example.com
Cllr Mark Livesey - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Dorothy Hatswell - email@example.com
Cllr Ian Pearce - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Mike Watts - email@example.com
Cllr Brenda Binge - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Edward King - email@example.com
Cllr Liz Bennett - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Peter Reed - email@example.com
Cllr Andrew Brock - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Bernard Gillbard - email@example.com
Cllr Ian Dixon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Chris Jerrey - email@example.com
Cllr Heidi Brunson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Jean Glynn - email@example.com
Cllr James Joyce-Nelson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Edward Matthews - email@example.com
Cllr Sue Hatton - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Peter Martin - email@example.com
Cllr Richard Bates - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Brian Hall - email@example.com
Cllr Paddy Henry - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Irene Balls - email@example.com
Cllr Clive Chapman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Garry Wall - email@example.com
Cllr Jonathan Ash-Edwards - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Margaret Baker - email@example.com
Cllr John Besley - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Jane Keel - email@example.com
Cllr Chris Hersey - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr James Temple-Smithson - email@example.com
Cllr Gina Field - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Susanna Kemp - email@example.com
Cllr Jack Callaghan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Margaret Hersey - email@example.com
Cllr Andrew Lea - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Christopher Snowling - email@example.com