COUNCIL TAX RISES - PENSIONERS PROTEST
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Police in London counted some 600 protesters walking from Trafalgar Square to number 10 Downing Street to present a 35,000-strong petition calling for an end to the present council tax. The pensioners say they want a new system means tested as to ability to pay.
The demonstration was organised by the campaign group: 'Is It Fair', which claims on average, the cost of council tax has risen by up to 70% since 1997. The group said they had counted more than 2,000 people attending the rally.
Pensioners rally to protest against rising council tax bills - 17 Jan 2004
Christine Melsom, the campaign head said: "I think it has gone very well, considering the march was off, then on. "It had been cancelled at the end of last week and on Thursday I was told it was back on again. She added: "We will march again if it's necessary. We must get the council tax changed - it needs to be changed into something fairer. We cannot afford to pay it." Many protesters said they had made a late decision to demonstrate against this senseless tax, having heard the protest mentioned on the morning news.
Bryce Kerr, 68, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, said he was in London and felt obliged to attend where most of the pensioners are too frail to come. "My mum and me, we are relatively okay in terms of finance, but I want to be here for people who cannot do it themselves.
"For those people who find themselves burdened by the council tax." Ken Lacey, chairman of the Western Senior Citizen's Forum, had traveled to London with a coach party of 30 people from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. The 76-year-old said : "My pension went up £100 last year. My council tax went up £154. Clearly, under the present scheme many people, not just pensioners, are worse off. Apparently, lot of our members are considering not paying above the rate of inflation this year. "If we have to go to court we will go mob-handed." Protesters want the tax replaced by one based on their ability to pay.
BBC News 17th January 2004 - Links
Q&A: Council tax changes 15 Jan 04 | Politics
Tax rebel pensioner in court 15 Jan 04 | Hampshire/Dorset
Kennedy hails 'fairer' tax plans 12 Jan 04 | Politics
Minister considers local income tax
The BBC's John Andrew "The march ended with a petition to Downing Street"
Lewes East Sussex: David Gray: Lewes Senior Citizens Association - Story FEBRUARY 6 2004 - Sussex Express
Eastbourne East Sussex: Roger Edwards: 'I'd rather go to jail' - Story FEBRUARY 4 2004 - Eastbourne Gazette
Uckfield East Sussex: Michael Andrews: wrote to WC and Charles Hendry - Story FEBRUARY 2004 - Sussex Express
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