Bristol

Poll tax was 'a serious mistake' - Waldegrave

Poll tax demonstration in London
Image caption The community charge was met with protests

Creating the poll tax was a "serious mistake", one of the architects of the ill-fated charge has said.

Lord Waldegrave was a local government minister when Margaret Thatcher asked him to find an alternative to rates.

But the former Bristol West MP told BBC Points West he had not intended it to be introduced in such a "gung-ho" way.

The community charge, introduced in Scotland in 1989 and England and Wales in 1990, led to riots in London and a mass non-payment campaign in Scotland.

'My own work'

The charge, which replaced the rates system, was levied on individuals rather than properties.

In his memoirs, William Waldegrave, who was Conservative MP for Bristol West from 1979 until 1997, described the community charge as "all my own work".

In an interview with BBC Points West, he said he was not alone among ministers backing the plan but added: "I think that I made a policy that looked as if it would work, intellectually if you like, theoretically, and delivered it to Mrs Thatcher, who liked it very much. And it was a serious mistake.

"I was too trusting of my bosses, as it were, to see as I saw, all the difficulties with it. They went gung ho and introduced it overnight in one go, which was never my plan and I thought they must know what there were doing - but they didn't."

In the London poll tax riots in 1990, up to 3,000 demonstrators turned on police. Of 113 people injured, 45 were police.

By the end of the year, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had stood down. She was replaced by John Major who scrapped the charge in favour of the council tax that continues today.

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