Council tax protest goes to Westminster

SUFFOLK'S council tax protesters are to take their argument to Westminster by telling leading MPs why people in the county are so angry about the rises.

SUFFOLK'S council tax protesters are to take their argument to Westminster by telling leading MPs why people in the county are so angry about the rises.

And the council tax issue was today taking centre stage at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool.

Tory shadow cabinet minister David Davis was shown The Evening Star's Cap the Tax campaign as he prepared his keynote speech for the party conference.

And he is expected to meet members of the pressure group PACTS (People Against Council Tax in Suffolk) to hear the county's concerns early next month.

Meanwhile Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has also agreed to meet PACTS campaign leaders later this month to hear their concerns and explain his party's proposal to replace council tax with a local income tax.

Suffolk's Conservative MPs were stung by comments from Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole who said he had "heard nothing helpful" from them in the debate about council tax rises.

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Writing to the Star on Saturday, Mr Mole said he had had several meetings with local government minister Nick Raynsford who was well aware of Suffolk's problems.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, whose constituency includes Stowmarket and Needham Market, said he and his colleagues were preparing to tackle the government at every opportunity.

And he scoffed at the Mr Mole's suggesting that discussing the problem with Mr Raynsford would help ease the situation.

"Raynsford's notorious in the tea rooms of Westminster," said Mr Ruffley. "He'll go up to backbench Labour MPs, put his arm around them and listen to what they say.

"He'll nod and say 'I'll see what I can do,' and go back to his desk in the ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) and do the square root of nothing!"

N Send us your views about council tax? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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