Someone has quite rightly reminded me that I might be guilty of hypocrisy and double standards by posting about 2 former Labour councilors and their self-contained flat, when I too had a planning problem 7 years ago. To be honest I had forgotten about this and I would like the thank the person who reminded me. You did the right thing. As they say people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I publish below the full article which was in the Thanet Gazette in June 2009.Whilst I agree that I was ignorant of the planning rules and had made a mistake with my shed I did not try to deceive people or cover up the work I had done. I was up front and open about it and on discovering I had done something wrong I immediately put it right to the satisfaction of the council. If my memory serves me well, I didn’t even need planning permission for the shed it was a permitted development and the only issue was the height of the roof which I sorted out.
The 2 former Labour councilors, on the other hand, appear to have acted in a different way to me. Evidence from reputable and official sources shows that they converted their basement into a self contained flat without planning permission or building regulation approval which is normally required for such work. This is particularly surprising when it is borne in mind that one of the 2 Labour councillors concerned was in charge of Thanet Council's planning services for several years. Evidence also shows that there has been failure to notify Thanet Council and the Government Valuation Office of the existence of the flat so that it can be entered on to the Council Tax register and any consequent tax liabilities paid up to date.
|The Green's self contained basement flat|
Within 24 hours of me publishing an article about the lack of planning and building control approval for the conversion and raising issues about Council tax liability the wording on the Ward and Partners web site was mysteriously changed to read that the basement “has the potential to be used as used as a one bedroom self contained flat”, a phrase which is also repeated in the revised property owners statement on the Ward and Partners website as well. These amendments appear to be, what many people might think is, an effort by the 2 former Labour councillors to back-track on the original description and muddy the waters about what is in their basement.
I would strongly advise the 2 former Labour councillors to follow my example and be up front and honest about their basement as I was about my shed. They should contact Thanet Council’s planning team and seek advice on the need for retrospective planning and building regulation approval and they should also seek to establish the Council Tax position of their basement through discussion with the Valuation Office and Thanet Council. These are actions which most people will agree are right and proper in a case uncertainty, especially if those concerned are prominent citizen who have occupied senior political positions for many years.
Anything less, is likely to lead to allegations and suspicions of deceit and dishonesty within the community, which for 2 former and very senior Labour Councillors who set the rules for the others, would be very damaging to their reputation.
One final thought on this matter. I have been attacked on Facebook by several Labour Party members for publishing my articles about the 2 former Labour councillors. I have been accused of victimisation, on line bullying and egotistical self promotion. This is utter nonsense. My articles were based entirely on up to date information from reputable and official sources freely available on the internet. Also public figures such as myself and the 2 former Labour Councillors should expect to be the subject of comment and often criticism about their views and behaviour - they call this democracy and its an important way of ensuring accountability. It just seems very odd to me that those attacking me were only too keen to criticise the UKIP Leader of Thanet when he failed to pay his council tax, but when it comes to a member of their own political tribe they circle the waggons and refuse to admit that their might be a problem.
Surely the right and honest thing for Thanet Labour to do is to investigate the serious issues I have raised rather than shooting the messenger with false claims of bullying and harassment. To brush this issue under the table will be seen by many as a dishonest political cover up that will damage further the reputation and credibility of a party which has already cost the taxpayers of Thanet £14.5 million due to the incompetence and maladministration when it ran the council.
As a lifelong socialist I really hoped that under Jeremy Corbyn labour would be more open and honest in its dealings with the public. Cleary here in Thanet this is not happening.
Thanet Gazette June 2009The Head of Thanet’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has admitted he should have got more guidance before building a huge shed in his garden. Ian Driver was given the green light to build a small tool shed behind his home in Seaview Road, Broadstairs, earlier this year.
But after seeing how the building had outgrown the original designs, the town’s planning committee recommended the building be refused retrospective planning permission at a meeting last week. Looking at photos of the site, mayor Mave Saunders said: “It’s clearly too tall and not at all like your common garden shed. It’s three and a half metres wide and so tall it must be a problem for the next-door neighbours.”Mr Driver’s retrospective planning application will go before Thanet council planning officers, but he says he has already accepted he will have to change the building.The CAB chief said: “I admit that I got it totally wrong and I misread the planning restrictions. They are quite complicated, but I should have got more advice about it.
“I’ve now got to take the roof off and replace it with a flat one, which is costing me a couple of grand to put right.“I just wanted a place to keep my tools and have somewhere nice to sit out in the summer, but I can see why the town council have got upset about it. I would advise anyone who’s unsure about what planning permission allows them to do to see the experts. I wish I had now.”