Taxing Times

Friday, 9th September 2005

Earl de WarenneIn medieval times the Lord of the Manor of Wakefield had a tower - the keep at Sandal Castle - overlooking the town from which he collected taxes. One Lord of the Manor, William, the third Earl de Warenne died in 1149, fighting the Turks in what is now Syria. His descendant John, the eighth and last Earl de Warenne (c. 1286-1347) is depicted on the seal, left.

By the time of the Wars of the Roses, after the Warenne line came to an end, the Manor became the property of Richard, Duke of York, who was killed at the Battle of Wakefield, 1460. In 1483 his son Richard III became Lord of the Manor of Wakefield but, despite making improvements to his castle here, he probably never made a Royal visit to the town because he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. His death effectively marks the end of the middle ages since it brought the Tudor dynasty to the throne.

WakefieldToday, all that has changed; we're no longer fighting in Syria (just on the borders) and Her Majesty's Inspector of Taxes has now relocated to a light, airy tower, closer to the centre of Wakefield. I sketched the view of the Town Hall, County Hall and, in front of them, the rooves of The Ridings Centre as I waited to check ask if I'd filled in the new simplified - but still daunting, to me - tax form correctly.

They're really helpful at the tax office and I don't think they throw you in the dungeon if you get things wrong these days, but it doesn't harm to check.

If I ruled the world

dungeonI saw a poster in the Quaker Meeting house promoting the suggestion that there should be a special form of income tax for those whose beliefs prevent them from contributing towards war. I'm sympathetic to this but I don't see how the principle, once established, could work. If it was accepted that tax payers should have a right not to contribute to some activity that they believe to be immoral, unjust or untenable, where would it end?

I'd certainly go along with the idea that I don't want my hard-earned cash to go towards killing any fellow human being, even our worst enemies, but certainly not innocent civilians caught in the war zone, but I'd also probably not want my money to go towards promoting the structure of our economy which is so dependent on oil (itself to some extent a factor, as I see it, in the recent war we got ourselves into).

For a start they could re-open our local train station . . . Next Page

Richard Bell,