James Traynor: Meet My Real Hero of the Week: Dr Richard North

Article excerpt

Byline: James Traynor

WE haven't been short of heroes over the last week or so with Maria Sharapova winning Wimbledon at the age of 17 and the Greek national team reigning supreme in Euro2004, but they don't get my vote.

Keep your sporting stars. Today I'm going for a real champion, an unsung hero whohad the courage to do what most of us would love to do but are just too afraid.

I'm sure we've all at some time wanted to rebel against the lunacy of our local councillors, but how many of us have actually taken them on?

We've ranted and raved and felt as though our heads were going to explode trying to get through to some front counter lacky, but we've never really stood up to those faceless bureaucrats and crackpot councillors who are hell bent on ruining the quality of our lives.

So step forward Dr Richard North, a fairly ordinary bloke in his mid-fifities who was sent to jail because he demanded protection from the police. Now there's a strange irony, don't you think?

Aman asks that the police domore about the numerous break-ins at his home in Bradford he's been burgled six times and the damage caused to his car by vandals, andhe gets sent to the nick.

The people who have been making his life a misery, the thugs and neds who roam around the streets breaking and thieving were still free, but the victim was locked up. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Britian in 2004.

North says every house in his street has been burgled, so he decided to deduct pounds 78 from his council tax bill because that amount was due for what was supposed to be efficient policing.

Ourman quite rightly took the view that if the police force 'insisted on calling themselves a service andme a customer, then I am exercising my right not to pay for a service that is clearly not being redeemed'.

He entered into a series of correspondence with his local council, then found himself in court facing a debt of almost pounds 1000 because of bailiff and other procedural charges.

Unlike the poltroons who sit on our councils, North is governed by reason and common sense, so when it became obvious his personal protest had fallen on deaf ears and prison beckoned, he decided to do the sensible thing and pay the full bill, plus costs.

Unfortunately, he offered to pay by cheque and the court would accept nothing other than cash, which he didn't have on him. …