April 10, 1987 INDEX

5,000 protest over rate rise

Evening News reporter

MORE than 5,000 angry ratepayers beseiged Waltham Forest Town Hall in East London to protest at a massive rates rise while councillors inside debated the increase.

Tempers flared and fists flew at the demonstration, which caused local traffic to grind to a halt while dozens of police were called in to control the angry protesters. There were no arrests.

The council rejected a motion to overturn the 62.2 per cent increase, which was passed last month. The new rate of 321p in the pound is the highest in London.

But 70-year-old Kathleen Collins, who attended the demonstration, said today: "The battle is far from over. I'm absolutely disgusted by their decision. I'm a pensioner and I can't afford to pay a rise like that."

Ratepayers Action Group spokesman John Anderson said: 'This rise is going to crucify local businesses and turn this borough into an economic wasteland."

Many ratepayers at the demonstration vowed they would not pay their rates until the council reduced them.

The leader of the Labour-controlled council, Neil Gerrard, has received death threats since the increase was announced and Opposition councillors presented him with almost 4,000 protest letters at the meeting.

But he said: "This rate rise is what is needed for the services of the borough the homeless, those living in decaying houses, the children at physical and mental risk and all the other needy people in the borough."

Evening News, April 10, 1987.
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