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> No Allotment Row Showdaon In Court
Andy Capp
post Apr 22 2012, 09:47 AM
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On page 3 of the April 19th edition of the NWN, I was amused by the comments of the 'esteemed' town council leader, Julian Swift-Hook (Lib Dem), that he is surprised that the police are to ignore the complaint of vandalism, but pursued allegations of obstructing a constituent to minutes of a meeting. Well it can't be vandalism if the eviction notice was illegal, can it Mr Swift-Hook? It is also regrettable that your CEO, Graham Hunt, apparent illegal act of denying minutes to a constituent failed in court on a technicality. Not a satisfactory outcome at all.

Town councillors are appearing to contrive to deny a constituent due process. I presume the next step will be to change the lock and issue everyone a new key. That should do, eh? That's how council's should behave.

Just remember everyone reading this: this time it is only a 'vociferous' and 'belligerent' allotment holder. Next time it could be you the council or a council member decide to take a dislike to and deny you your rights. Next time it could be you the council decide to issue an official public notice about without any formal right to reply in public.
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Jayjay
post Apr 22 2012, 10:04 AM
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It does happen. A very good friend was taken to court for non payment of council tax. Three times she produced the receipts but they still took her to court. Obviously she won her case and put in a complaint to every member of the council. Every November for 8 years she was ordered into the court building for non payment. She had to produce reciepts to a very snotty council employee. She was never given the right to go before a judge. This was obviously spite for daring to criticise the council.
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blackdog
post Apr 22 2012, 10:16 AM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Apr 22 2012, 10:47 AM) *
It is also regrettable that your CEO, Graham Hunt (Tory)

Where do you get the idea that the CEO votes Tory? He certainly doesn't repsent the Tories - as a servant of the council he is required to be neutral.

Why is there this continued attempt to blame the Tories for this problem? It is a LIB DEM led council that has allowed this situation to drag on for years. Agreed the Tory opposition have totally failed to act as an opposition on this issue - implying that they support the council activities - but this is one instance where it's not actually their fault.
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Andy Capp
post Apr 22 2012, 10:25 AM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ Apr 22 2012, 11:16 AM) *
Where do you get the idea that the CEO votes Tory? He certainly doesn't repsent the Tories - as a servant of the council he is required to be neutral.

Why is there this continued attempt to blame the Tories for this problem? It is a LIB DEM led council that has allowed this situation to drag on for years. Agreed the Tory opposition have totally failed to act as an opposition on this issue - implying that they support the council activities - but this is one instance where it's not actually their fault.

Because it was allegedly a Tory councillor that first took umbrage to Simon Kirby and Falkland is a Tory stronghold. I understand that Tories are embroiled in this. However, you are correct, I shouldn't associate him with any party and have edited my post accordingly.
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Cognosco
post Apr 22 2012, 10:27 AM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Apr 22 2012, 10:47 AM) *
On page 3 of the April 19th edition of the NWN, I was amused by the comments of the 'esteemed' town council leader, Julian Swift-Hook (Lib Dem), that he is surprised that the police are to ignore the complaint of vandalism, but pursued allegations of obstructing a constituent to minutes of a meeting. Well it can't be vandalism if the eviction notice was illegal, can it Mr Swift-Hook? It is also regrettable that your CEO, Graham Hunt (Tory), apparent illegal act of denying minutes to a constituent failed in court on a technicality. Not a satisfactory outcome at all.

Both local Tory and Liberal Democrats appearing to contrive to deny a constituent due process. I presume the next step will be to change the lock and issue everyone a new key. That should do, eh? That's how council's should behave.

Just remember everyone reading this: this time it is only a 'vociferous' and 'belligerent' allotment holder. Next time it could be you the council or a council member decide to take a dislike to and deny you your rights. Next time it could be you the council decide to issue an official public notice about without any formal right to reply in public.


It is unbeleivable that the council can see no wrong in what they have done. They are so out of touch with the electorate that they may as well be on Mars. Ok Simon may not employ the best method of getting his case across to the council?
But I can fully understand his frustrations that they just do not listen and will not even consider they may be in the wrong. I just do not understand the argument of the council in saying he took too much officer time in answering his queries. Just what are they there for but to serve the taxpayer? The problem is most of the time they do not actually answer the question that is posed, as only politicians can, and waffle on for some time but actually say very little. They must understand then why taxpayers get so frustrated?

For Simon to be ostracised for trying to gain self management for the allotments and to save the allotmenteers and taxpayers both money just makes no sense? Why did the council not nip this in the bud before it got too far out of hand, when you find yourself in a hole stop digging, if they are so sure that allotmenteers do not want self management why did they not hold a referendum? They seem to have wasted a lot of money on this issue and I do beleive it would have been more cost effective and shut the whole argument down once and for all to hold a referendum.

Why be so vindictive to be told that the rent increases were not, supposedly, legal, which appears to be backed up by trading standards, if you are in the wrong admit it and move on? They have been shown up for what they are, bumblng amateurs.

Then there is the even more worrying item of not allowing publication of minutes of meetings and refusing to allow any right of reply to a taxpayer of comments made in this meeting!
Then the now famous new contract, we will let you keep your beloved allotment providing you say nothing to anybody regarding allotments to local forums or newspapers etc, any comments must first be approved by the Cief Executive. Where were they trained China? Some tin pot dictatorship country?

The whole council should have the decency to resign. After issuing a public apology to Simon of course! rolleyes.gif


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Andy Capp
post Apr 22 2012, 10:32 AM
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QUOTE (Cognosco @ Apr 22 2012, 11:27 AM) *
I just do not understand the argument of the council in saying he took too much officer time in answering his queries. Just what are they there for but to serve the taxpayer?

Exactly. What would the council do if more people exercised their right to ask questions?

I also wonder how much the lawyer cost to defend the CEO, Graham Hunt, in court recently. I do-not defend Simon's methods, but I expect better from our council.
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Cognosco
post Apr 22 2012, 11:38 AM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ Apr 22 2012, 11:16 AM) *
Where do you get the idea that the CEO votes Tory? He certainly doesn't repsent the Tories - as a servant of the council he is required to be neutral.

Why is there this continued attempt to blame the Tories for this problem? It is a LIB DEM led council that has allowed this situation to drag on for years. Agreed the Tory opposition have totally failed to act as an opposition on this issue - implying that they support the council activities - but this is one instance where it's not actually their fault.


Do I detect a backing away from blame for this? rolleyes.gif

Of course Tories are to blame did they stand up and state they were against the way Simon was being treated?
Did they not investigate his complaints? Did they not ensure that any rent increases for allotments complied with the law? Did they not ensure that minutes of meetings were made public? Turning a blind eye to injustice does not absolve one from blame! angry.gif


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Exhausted
post Apr 23 2012, 06:57 PM
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The crux of the outburst by Mr Swift-Hook is that the failure to disclose the minutes is a criminal offence and was and quite rightly should have been treated as such and referred to the DPP. A formal caution should have been given by the police. I don't really understand where the timescale bit comes in as a crime is a crime and I don't recall any crime having limitations.
As far as Simon's thing was concerned, it was not criminal damage or any other sort of criminal act. The matter is one for the civil courts and is not dealt with by the police or the DPP other than they may be required to ensure that there is no breach of the peace.
Why Mr Swift-Hook believes that the criminal offence is of lesser importance than a civil offence is beyond me. This is a real case of shooting one's self in the foot if ever I heard one.
Mr Swift-Hook should be made to make a public apology for his outburst as he has created in the minds of persons who are unaware of the facts, a belief that Simon Kirby has carried out a criminal act and by deduction is in fact a criminal. I'm afraid this proves that the council leader is out of his depth and should resign at the earliest opportunity as his remarks have certainly brought the council into disrepute.The buck stops at the top but one would not expect it to start there as well.
I hope the NWN have the balls to follow this up in Thursdays paper.
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Exhausted
post Apr 23 2012, 07:03 PM
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What has happened to Simon by the way. Has he accepted the gagging order and if so should we all go home or is he just on holiday.
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Andy Capp
post Apr 23 2012, 07:34 PM
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QUOTE (Exhausted @ Apr 23 2012, 08:03 PM) *
What has happened to Simon by the way. Has he accepted the gagging order and if so should we all go home or is he just on holiday.

I would imagine he has his own issues to sort out. Regardless of the out-come, sometimes when one is 'fighting' a public body, one has to consider whether it is wise to continue or not. Especially when one doesn't have the financial wherewithal that the council can afford. Like I said, I wonder how much the lawyer cost us tax payers when the CEO, Graham Hunt was nicked, but wriggled out of it on a technicality. That ain't justice.
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Simon Kirby
post Apr 25 2012, 06:30 AM
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The town clerk has rejected my offer to sign the new tenancy agreement so a court show-down does now look likely, though I believe the offer may still be put directly to the councillors.


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NWNREADER
post Apr 25 2012, 12:46 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Apr 25 2012, 07:30 AM) *
The town clerk has rejected my offer to sign the new tenancy agreement so a court show-down does now look likely, though I believe the offer may still be put directly to the councillors.


Does the 'Town Clerk' have that authority?
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NWNREADER
post Apr 25 2012, 12:46 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Apr 25 2012, 07:30 AM) *
The town clerk has rejected my offer to sign the new tenancy agreement so a court show-down does now look likely, though I believe the offer may still be put directly to the councillors.


Does the 'Town Clerk' have that authority?
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Cognosco
post Apr 25 2012, 05:06 PM
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QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Apr 25 2012, 01:46 PM) *
Does the 'Town Clerk' have that authority?


No matter how many times you ask NWNReader you won't get an answer from the council! rolleyes.gif

The council will be very reluctant to give Simon a new tenancy agreement now.... it will only confirm they were in the wrong. They have to make an example of him, no matter they are in the wrong, or else they will be inundated with taxpayers taking them on in the future! angry.gif

The Town Clerk and all the rest of the council have only one way to move this forward without bringing the council into even more disrepute and that is to resign.


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Simon Kirby
post Apr 25 2012, 06:17 PM
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QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Apr 25 2012, 01:46 PM) *
Does the 'Town Clerk' have that authority?

It's an interesting question. If he has the delegated authority to deal with allotment matters then he probably has that authority but we don't know whether the council has reserved decisions in the dispute to themselves in committee or whether they have resolved to give the town clerk even more executive authority to deal with the dispute - we'd know if we had all the council minutes, but we don't. There's no obligation on the council to accept the surrender of my existing tenancy and grant me a new one on new terms so my allotment is still my allotment, albeit the council have no way of increasing my rent because it's rent review term is unenforceable due to its unfairness. The more nuanced question is whether the council are acting in the public interest by not resolving this dispute. They have refused to accept any rent from me so that's £73 they lose, and when this dispute is supposedly over £20 that's just bonkers before you even get to the several thousand pounds of legal expenses they have already spent, and the several thousand pounds on top of that which they'll spend should their application for a possession order fail. There would have been none of this expenditure, and I'd never have arrived here complaining of this injustice had the council offered me the Trading Standards-approved tenancy without the "pre-eviction" endorsement, and it would be good to know who made that decision.


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Cognosco
post Apr 25 2012, 06:23 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Apr 25 2012, 07:17 PM) *
It's an interesting question. If he has the delegated authority to deal with allotment matters then he probably has that authority but we don't know whether the council has reserved decisions in the dispute to themselves in committee or whether they have resolved to give the town clerk even more executive authority to deal with the dispute - we'd know if we had all the council minutes, but we don't. There's no obligation on the council to accept the surrender of my existing tenancy and grant me a new one on new terms so my allotment is still my allotment, albeit the council have no way of increasing my rent because it's rent review term is unenforceable due to its unfairness. The more nuanced question is whether the council are acting in the public interest by not resolving this dispute. They have refused to accept any rent from me so that's £73 they lose, and when this dispute is supposedly over £20 that's just bonkers before you even get to the several thousand pounds of legal expenses they have already spent, and the several thousand pounds on top of that which they'll spend should their application for a possession order fail. There would have been none of this expenditure, and I'd never have arrived here complaining of this injustice had the council offered me the Trading Standards-approved tenancy without the "pre-eviction" endorsement, and it would be good to know who made that decision.


From the councils point of veiw Silence is Golden.

I do believe they want to drag this on for as long as possible hoping it will go away and then evict Simon when it has all gone quite. We will have to ensure it does not go away. Still waiting for answers from councillors? angry.gif


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Simon Kirby
post Apr 25 2012, 06:37 PM
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QUOTE (Cognosco @ Apr 25 2012, 07:23 PM) *
I do believe they want to drag this on for as long as possible hoping it will go away and then evict Simon when it has all gone quite. We will have to ensure it does not go away. Still waiting for answers from councillors? angry.gif

I very much believe that to be true. I don't believe there can be a resolution to this until the council - and I mean councillors - engage with the issues at the bottom of the dispute. I'm more than happy to discuss the fairness of the rent review term, and if anyone - and I mean anyone at all - can show me how I was wrong then I'm more than happy to pay the extra £20, but I simply don't agree that it was right to threaten to evict me without discussing my legitimate complaint, that's just plain wrong for a public authority to behave like that. There is no shame in the agreement containing unfair terms, and there should have been no harm in a tenant raising legitimate concerns about the fairness.


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Cognosco
post Apr 25 2012, 06:47 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Apr 25 2012, 07:37 PM) *
I very much believe that to be true. I don't believe there can be a resolution to this until the council - and I mean councillors - engage with the issues at the bottom of the dispute. I'm more than happy to discuss the fairness of the rent review term, and if anyone - and I mean anyone at all - can show me how I was wrong then I'm more than happy to pay the extra £20, but I simply don't agree that it was right to threaten to evict me without discussing my legitimate complaint, that's just plain wrong for a public authority to behave like that. There is no shame in the agreement containing unfair terms, and there should have been no harm in a tenant raising legitimate concerns about the fairness.


Well obviously there is shame in raising and pointing out errors to our town Council and someone has to suffer for pointing these out. Again I am calling for resignations over the handling of this, what should have been a minor spat, and especially for trying to gag a taxpayer with a scandelous contract to stop the public gaining knowledge of how they were operating. angry.gif


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Simon Kirby
post Apr 25 2012, 08:05 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Apr 23 2012, 08:34 PM) *
I would imagine he has his own issues to sort out. Regardless of the out-come, sometimes when one is 'fighting' a public body, one has to consider whether it is wise to continue or not. Especially when one doesn't have the financial wherewithal that the council can afford. Like I said, I wonder how much the lawyer cost us tax payers when the CEO, Graham Hunt was nicked, but wriggled out of it on a technicality. That ain't justice.

This looks like the bill for the barrister at the magistrate's court.
QUOTE
22.03.12 11223 Gardner Leader West Berkshire Magistrates Court 14.03.12 - Allotments £2,475.00


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Andy Capp
post Apr 25 2012, 08:18 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Apr 25 2012, 09:05 PM) *
This looks like the bill for the barrister at the magistrate's court.

£2,500.00 to 'wriggle out' of justice. A bargain. I don't want to come across old fashioned, but would it not have been a tad cheaper to have supplied the minutes? There really must be some 'hot' information that they desperately don't want people to see. unsure.gif


I can't wait for the canvassers at local election time! The Lib Dims [sic] are going to get some stick from me I tell you!:D
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