Retired museum expert prepares for court

RETIRED museum boss Peter van Geersdaele is today preparing for court after being summonsed for not paying enough council tax.Mr van Geersdaele, 70, of Burkitt Road in Woodbridge has been served with the summons by Suffolk Coastal council after he decided to pay his council tax in 12 monthly instalments.

RETIRED museum boss Peter van Geersdaele is today preparing for court after being summonsed for not paying enough council tax.

Mr van Geersdaele, 70, of Burkitt Road in Woodbridge has been served with the summons by Suffolk Coastal council after he decided to pay his council tax in 12 monthly instalments.

The council is one of just two in Suffolk to ban such an arrangement - insisting that householder pay over 12 months.

Mr van Geersdaele - who moved to Suffolk in the 1960s to work on the Sutton Hoo project and who has been awarded the OBE for services to museums - has been paying monthly since council tax went up by 18 percent in April last year.

"It was such a steep rise that it was difficult to find the extra if I had to pay over 10 months - but by spreading it over 12 I have managed to keep the amount I pay down to about the same as last year every month.

"Suffolk Coastal doesn't like this and I've now been served with a summons to attend court next Monday. It worries me but I'll go through with it," he said.

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Suffolk Coastal is one of only two district councils in the county which do not allow householders to pay their bills monthly.

A spokesman for Suffolk Coastal said that the cost of allowing monthly payments was too great for the council to allow.

"It would cost too much to change - about £150,000 or £3 for every Band D home," he said.

"By having 10 monthly payments we have two months to chase up arrears - and we like to get our money in as early as possible."

He said that Suffolk Coastal would start legal action if a householder broke the terms of their contract to pay a certain amount in council tax.