From the Derby Gripe.
Josephine Rooney, who was commended for her community work by the council in March to mark International Women's Day, faces three months in prison after refusing to pay her council tax in protest at the state of her street. She stopped payments to Derby City Council in December 2004 and owes nearly £800 but she insists she will not pay up.
Miss Rooney, who is angry at the anti-social behaviour and litter in her area, said she has been campaigning for six years to put a stop to drug-taking and fly-tipping in Hartington Street, where she has lived for 20 years.
"Nowadays Hartington Street in Normanton is known as Smack Alley, but it was still prosperous and middle-class when Josephine moved here 20 years ago, a parade of grand three storey terraces just a few blocks away from the centre of Derby.
Then a "halfway house" hostel for homeless people and addicts on rehab opened at one end of the street, and one by one the old residents moved out. In 10 years, the street's decline has been so rapid that out of 50 houses, only eight are now owner-occupied, the rest have been bought up by absent landlords and converted into cramped bedsits and flats. The last family left more than a year ago. "It became too dangerous, as simple as that," said Josephine. "