A HEREFORD man told magistrates he would rather be “locked up” than pay his spiralling council tax bill.

Dennis Gillingham, of De Lacy Court, Eign Road, St James, took his bags to court and told the bench he would sooner go to jail on principle than pay an outstanding tax bill of just over £200.

“It’s kicking the guy that’s in the gutter,” he told Hereford Magistrates Court. “I’ve got no intention of paying it.”

As Gillingham receives benefits, he is among a group of people that as recently as three years ago had 100 per cent of their council tax waived.

Since then that subsidy has fallen to 84 per cent, with a proposal to cut it further to 76 per cent under the new budget.

Annette Apperley, representing the council, said that it has seen a considerable increase in this type of case since a rise this year.

Currently 1,122 people across Herefordshire have been issued with liability orders for unpaid council tax.

Gillingham told the court that, in real terms, for someone in his situation it means his bill has risen by nearly 90 per cent in two years.

He added: “It’s kicking the poorest so they can pay for their new bins - is that what they care about now?

“I’ve packed my bags for prison – why don’t you send me there? That’s where I’m going to end up.”

Head magistrate Celia Cundale – who did not have the sentencing powers to sent Gillingham to jail for an unpaid bill – issued a liability order for the outstanding amount.

Ms Apperely told the court: “I can only apologise for manner of that case, but I suspect there will be more and more like that over the next few months.”