Protesters gathered outside Tottenham Magistrates Court this afternoon to support a retired vicar in his battle with the council over council tax.
The Rev Paul Nicolson, 82, has been refusing to pay his council tax, which he says disproportionately affects those on low incomes.
In August, a liability order was issued against Rev Nicolson for his refusal to pay. He has also been asked to pay court costs of £125.
Rev Nicolson argued that the fixed £125 figure charged by Haringey Council to cover the court costs is arbitrary, pointing out that Enfield Council only charges £70 for liability orders heard at Tottenham Magistrates Court.
He has long said that Haringey Council are using the court costs as a “deterrant” to enforce payment.
Tottenham Magistrates Court has allowed Haringey Council to enforce the £125 court costs 22,152 times in 2013/2014.
He said: “It seems as if the magistrates have slid into a habit of acting as an administrative arm of the council rather than an independent judiciary.”
Rev Nicolson said that the court costs do not act as a deterrent as people who cannot afford to pay.
He said: “It must be the most ineffective deterrent ever devised when the £125 bomb has to be dropped more than 22,000 times a year, and then the tanks are sent in to destroy what’s left of a poverty income.”
Collin Johnson, of Gladesmore Road, was not aware of the protest but said he was pleased people were supporting Rev Nicolson as he has often been unable to pay his council tax.
He said: “The charges are too much for these people to pay. They need to charge a reasonable rate, one that reflects the incomes in the area.”
Emma Davis, 27, of St Ann’s, said: “I’m here to protest against the attacks on housing overall at the moment.
“Rev Nicolson, in refusing to pay his council tax, stands up for us all. We’ve got a big fight on our hands.”
The campaign group Women with Disabilites (WwD) turned up in force to support Rev Nicolson.
Di Di, of WwD, said that council tax was part of a cost of living crisis generally.
She said: “We’re here to support Reverend Nicolson because he has supported us. These court costs are an attack on low waged people and people on benefits.
“It’s part of a wider cost of living crisis that especially affects families with children to feed.”
Rev Nicolson asked the magistrates to adjourn his case as he is waiting to hear the date for the High Court hearing ordered by Mr Justice Foskett in April.
He said: “I don’t speculate on the courts, but I’m hopeful about the hearing.”