June 19, 1987. INDEX

Date set for rates case

THE eyes of London will be focused on Waltham Forest Ratepayers Action Group on Monday, July 13, when the High Court gives its final verdict in the rates battle.

But the campaigning ratepayers said it was still not too late for Waltham Forest Council and the 31 left-wing Labour councillors to pull out of court proceedings and save themselves high legal costs.

But at last night's (Thursday's) council meeting that move was unlikely.

The ratepayers now stand alone in their unprecedented campaign after a similar case brought by Ealing ratepayers for a judicial review was quashed by the High Court on Monday.

Because of its importance the hearing has been brought forward and two High Court judges instead of the usual one will preside.

If the group wins, Labour councillors could face personal financial disaster. For they are responsible for paying their own legal fees.

High Court permission was granted on Wednesday for the group's solicitors to obtain all council documents and papers relating to the setting of the rate.

At a council committee meeting on Monday, Council leader Neil Gerrard's casting vote put paid to a Tory proposal for a re-think on the rates to avoid a collision with the Government.

The influential resources strategy committee was asked by Conservative supremo Councillor Michael Lewis to re-set the rate at a more reasonable level and thus avoid inevitable rate-capping.

But Labour struck to its guns.

A new petition from 179 members of the Waltham Forest Asian community urges the council to keep rates on their homes and businesses low "leaving us to fund our own community organisations in our own way".

Over half the borough's ratepayers are now choosing to pay by monthly instalments. Seven thousand reminders have been sent out to instalment payers who have either paid nothing or less than the full sum.

Collection figures up to June 5 were nearly four per cent down on last year's with only £12.8m of a potential £75.2m collected.

Waltham Forest Guardian June 19, 1987.