Rates appeal verdict soon
PROTESTING ratepayers in Waltham Forest renewed on Tuesday their legal challenge to the 62 per cent rise implemented in April.
But they still have another week of waiting before a final decision is announced.
The 20-strong Waltham Forest Ratepayers' Action Group claimed in Court of Appeal that a High Court ruling on July 29 in favour of the council was wrong in law.
The High Court rejected the ratepayers complaint that the rate increase was ''irrational, unreasonable and illegal".
Mr James Wadsworth, QC for the ratepayers, argued on Tuesday that the two High Court judges were wrong in holding that it was legal for individual Labour councillors opposed to the massive rates increase to allow themselves to vote for it for motives of "party unity".
He said several Labour councillors had made written statements saying that, although they believed the rate to be wrong, they had voted for it in the interests of unity.
He told Sir John Donaldson (Master of the Rolls), Lord Justice Stocker and Lord Justice Russell that the High Court ought to have held that those councillors, in voting for the increase, had allowed themselves to be "improperly fettered" and that the increase was invalid.
Mr Eldred Tabachnik, QC for Waltham Forest Council, argued that the Labour councillors had not "slavishly" voted for the rate increase, but had carefully considered the matter and felt that the decision to increase the rates by 62 per cent was valid.
The appeal judges reserved judgement and said they hoped to give their decision "within the next 10 days".
Ratepayers spokesman Alan Crown told the Guardian: "I think we must have put up a good enough case for consideration by the judges for them to take so long before coming to a decision."