A 73-year-old woman who is refusing to pay her council tax as a form of climate protest has been hit with further legal action from Buckinghamshire Council.

Dr Jane McCarthy appeared in High Wycombe Magistrates Court on Wednesday, facing a third liability order issued by the local authority, to which she owes more than £2,600 in council tax.

She previously owed more than £3,400 but paid £800 in a gesture of good will.

The Quaker, a grandmother who lives in Aylesbury, is calling on the council to stop banking with Barclays due to its investment in fossil fuels.

Dr Jane and other campaigners have also urged the council’s pension fund to divest from non-renewable energy.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that she was withholding her council tax because it is something she “can do” to protest against the council’s actions.

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She said: “Because I am isolated, I am limited in what I can do. This is something I can do. They are still continuing to fund fossil fuels.

“Almost all the other councils have put money into renewable energy, but Buckinghamshire has not invested in that.”

The academic, who is a reader in family studies, began withholding council tax in 2022 in protest at the authority’s pension fund – managed by the Brunel Pension Partnership – allegedly having £63 million invested in fossil fuels.

The protester said Bucks Council had not joined other local authorities in the £35 billion Brunel pool in committing funds to renewable energy.

Dr Jane highlighted a recent decision by Wiltshire Council – which like Bucks is Conservative-run – to divest all its fossil fuel assets by 2030.

She told the LDRS: “Wiltshire Council has changed its policy. It is not just about the council. It is also about profit, what risks they are taking with fossil fuels.”

The protester, who has an incurable form of blood cancer and is considered vulnerable, has also criticised the council’s response to her withholding council tax.

Dr Jane claimed the authority had ‘failed to uphold national standards in regard to vulnerable people’ and has complained to the Local Government Ombudsman.

She said: “There’s national standards that they’re supposed to keep to if you are a vulnerable person as I am. They just didn’t [keep to them].

“They said yes, we recognise you as vulnerable, we won’t be sending bailiffs round. If you get a letter from the bailiffs, you are supposed to have time to respond.

“It was very stressful at the time. The fact that they are repeatedly doing these things.”

Dr Jane, who is part of the ‘Council Tax Strike’ movement, has criticised the council for still banking with Barclays, the ‘largest funder of fossil fuels in Europe’.

In September 2023, the council made the decision to keep its current account services with Barclays, although acknowledged that the British banking giant is seen as a ‘significant investor in fossil fuels’.

Barclays said was expanding its ‘green and sustainable financing activities’ and reducing ‘financed emissions’ from coal, oil and gas.

Brunel aims for investments it manages to be net zero by 2050 at the latest.

John Chilver, Buckinghamshire Council's cabinet member for finance, resources, property and assets, said: “Council tax pays for a range of essential services for the local community and as a local authority, we have a legal duty to collect it.

"Delays in collection or non-recovery of debts leads to high administrative costs and results in lower resources available for vital council services.

"Residents have a legal duty to pay council tax and non-payment or delayed payment is a very serious matter that will ultimately be dealt with by the courts.”