War veteran's council tax court refusal
AN 86-year-old Ipswich war veteran is preparing for a new battle today after telling a court he would not pay all of his council tax.Richard Cater told magistrates his refusal was because he objected to it being used to fund the "whims" of politicians.
AN 86-year-old Ipswich war veteran is preparing for a new battle today after telling a court he would not pay all of his council tax.
Richard Cater told magistrates his refusal was because he objected to it being used to fund the "whims" of politicians.
The retired primary school teacher and veteran of the Dunkirk evacuation, walked out of court in Ipswich yesterday after complaining a magistrate had been treating him like an "errant schoolboy".
Magistrates issued a liability order and told Mr Cater, who lives in Ipswich, to pay the £687 he owes to Ipswich Borough Council.
Mr Cater now faces having property seized by bailiffs and, ultimately, a prison term if he refuses to pay the full bill.
But the Second World War veteran was adamant he was taking a "moral stand" and vowed he would do all he could to prevent bailiffs gaining access to his home – and said he was prepared to go to jail.
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Mr Cater has refused to pay the £1,312 bill he was given for his band D property because he felt councillors were charging "grossly in excess" of what was necessary.
"I am not doing this for me, I am doing it for everyone else who is also being unfairly charged," said Mr Cater, whose council tax bill has risen by 4.6% this year.
"I have no objection to paying for what is necessary, but I object to paying for what seems to me to be councillors satisfying certain whims.
"For example, opening libraries on Sunday or campaigning for Ipswich to be granted city status."
He added: "I think they are charging grossly in excess of what is necessary and it's morally indefensible.
"There are some very hard-up people who can't afford these amounts and if someone doesn't do something, it will get worse and worse.
"I'm quite prepared to go to prison. I will not back down because I feel I am in the right."
Mr Cater, who was a member of the Durham Light Infantry and based in Darlington during the Second World War, is a member of the campaign group, Protest Against Council Tax Suffolk.
A number of pensioners who also belong to the group were at Ipswich Magistrates' Court yesterday to offer support and there was applause from the public gallery as he outlined his case.
Mr Cater was one of 1,700 people issued with summonses for not paying the council tax by Ipswich Borough Council.
Magistrate Robert Skinner told Mr Cater that he had to pay because the council had satisfied legal requirements by establishing that the tax had been democratically set and the bill presented to him.
But as Mr Cater attempted to outline his objections, Mr Skinner said: "We are not going to have this court used for politicking."
But Mr Cater, a former army boxer, walked out after telling Mr Skinner: "I am not going to stand here and be lectured like some errant schoolboy, which I am not. In that case I will bid you goodbye."
Council officials said they would try to work with Mr Cater to recover the outstanding amount.