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Protester 'will go to prison again'
A COUNCIL tax protester faces prison for the second time this year for refusing to pay £65 of last year's bill.
Steve Peers, 40, of Woodhall Lane, Welwyn Garden City, has been summoned to appear at St Albans Magistrate Court on Monday by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and could face bailiffs or prison . . . again.
The father of three is withholding the amount - the increase in his bill above the rate of inflation - as part of a persistent protest which saw him jailed for five days in January.
He refused to pay £44.62 of his 2007/08 bill.
Family and other protesters, including members of the Tax Payers Alliance, are expected to join Steve outside court to show their support.
Steve, who discovered the summons on his release from prison, said: "I don't quite know what to expect - whether they'll send me to prison straight away or issue a liability order.
"I don't want to be in this position - the idea is not to go to prison and I am worried about it. But I am prepared to go if it is the only option. I am going to do whatever I can for as long as I can. This is a terrible abuse of power and I can't just sit back and let nothing happen. The amount of tax we pay is no longer relative to the services we benefit from and I can't let it happen. The council is so arrogant that it thinks it can get away with this - if we sit around and let them then they will."
The self-employed security advisor currently pays nearly £1,400 council tax a year for his Band D property and believes if rates keep rising like this his three year-old daughters could be paying £6,000 annually by the time they are 18. As a father of two and a step-father of one with a long term girlfriend it seems extreme to risk jail, but Steve he believes he has no option.
Answering criticism that he has put principles before his family, Steve said: "Sometimes a little bit of sacrifice now is better than a sacrifice later. It's a difficult decision but it's a worthwhile sacrifice. I'II do this because I want things to get better for my children and parents."
Steve, who can be contacted on email@example.com says refusing to pay council tax is a civil, not a criminal offence, and does not affect your credit rating.
Tim Akar, of the Tax Payers Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes, said: "We like to rally people round and show people who are making a stand that they have support. If people don't make a stand then we will find that more and more people are unable to afford their council tax."