INDEX May 29, 1987
Ratepayers go to High Court

A CONFIDENT Waltham Forest Ratepayers' Action Group were lodging papers with the High Court yesterday (Thursday), in an appeal for judicial review into Waltham Forest Council's 62.2 per cent rate rise.

It was the first legal step towards what the group hopes will culminate in victory and a court order for the Labour ruling council to re-meet and to set a new rate.

According to legal advisers, who have been gathering evidence and documents during several weeks: "We have a substantial arguable case."

The main platform will be the legality of the increase, and whether the Labour councillors were lawfully entitled to set the rise.

Councillors will also be accused of not meeting the requirements of the Rates Act 1984 by failing, it is claimed, to have properly consulted with business ratepayers before taking a final decision.

The group claims that there was no proper consultation, and the December meeting of the Industrial Liaison Committee was "a sham", because the council had already decided the increase.

The effect of the astronomic increase on local business is reflected in the response to a survey organised by the group. Out of 230 firms sent a questionnaire, over 200 were returned stating that they were either deferring expansion plans, thus making people redundant, or seriously considering re-locating their businesses,

The group also has a copy of a petition sent to the council from the Asian community, in which they appeal for a lower rate on their businesses "leaving us to fund our own community organisations in our own way."

A group spokesman, appealing to any ratepayer who might have important and relevant information or figures, said: "We need all we can lay our hands on." Contact can be made at Waltham Forest Chamber of Commerce offices in Hoe Street on (521 1239).

*The council Conservative group-- backed by the Alliance-- has asked for a special meeting of the general purposes committee to consider the legal action.

Said Tory group leader Michael Lewis: "It seemed to us the Labour Party was going to brush it under the carpet, but it seems to us to be extremely serious."

Waltham Forest Guardian May 29, 1987