COUNTRY LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION
MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN or "THREE PIDDLING DITCHES"
A member was served a Notice by his District Council under section 25 of the Land Drainage Act 1991: to remove and cut back vegetation in three small watercourses, to remove silt, gravel and other debris from then; to replace a 225mm diameter pipe carrying a footpath with one of 450mm and to install a similar pipe in one of the other watercourses. the works were estimated to cost approximately £1000.
The decision to take enforcement action had been taken under delegated powers and no enforcement report had been prepared. The member offered to carry out the works at his own expense provided the Council explained its justification and indemnified him against any flooding that might subsequently arise.
But since neither justification nor indemnity were forthcoming he was legally advised not to carry out the works and to lodge an appeal under section 27 of the Act. This view was further strengthened by a drainage expert who said the works were unnecessary.
An appeal was duly made to a magistrates court, but it then transpired that it had no power to order disclosure of documents. Disclosure of the council's documents therefore took place only after the Member had presented his case. The council then successfully opposed the introduction of a supplementary rebuttal report prepared for the member, and the appeal was dismissed subject to allowing extra time for the Member to carry out the works prescribed in the Notice.
The Member, finally in possession of the council's case appealed against the decision of the magistrates court. The appeal was successful in the crown court, with the council being held responsible for 80% of costs, with an abatement of his costs arising from his appeal to the magistrates court.
The Notice was served under section 25 of the Land Drainage Act 1991. It was contended by the Member that this section related to maintaining flows in watercourses not improving them. A different section applied to improvements - which could certainly result from installing new culverts. In addition, improvements and new works were funded by the beneficiary not the owner.
The Judge accepted the force of these arguments, but considered it was not necessary to make a formal decision on this point. The case was won not on a point of law, but on its technical merits, with the council and it's expert witness failing to demonstrate that increasing the size of the existing pipe and installing a new pipe were justified in order to maintain proper flow in the existing watercourse.
In summing up the Judge referred to "three piddling ditches" an apt description for three watercourses that could be stepped over with ease........................
FOR THE FULL STORY SEE: http://www.specialistmediators.org/drainage.html
What is not revealed from the legal victory as reported in the CLA magazine, is why this council decided to pursue the Member, when it must have been obvious to their legal and enforcement staff that they had no legal jurisdiction. The answer to that question is simple. The Wealden legal and planning departments are riddled with corruption. The Member in question had a neighbour who was a Parish Councillor. This council had already applied pressure to this Member to assist his neighbour, who was in litigation with the Member over an access issue.
The council concerned had already lost against this Member concerning a bridleway, where he was supported by East Sussex County Council. Wealden's enforcement department does not like losing and will never admit to being wrong. Neither will Wealden's legal department. Consequently, WC were looking for an issue to avenge their earlier defeat - regardless of the rights and wrongs. In so doing they were seeking to increase their recharge budget and make themselves look more important. This sort of action is termed a malicious prosecution. What a waste of the ratepayers money!
Our grandparents fought to protect us from perverse authority in two world wars. What's will it take to ensure perverts don't stay in positions of power once they have been found wanting? If these were crimes against children by child minders, the authorities would press charges (reluctantly). Nonetheless, these are serious crimes going unpunished with consequential ruination to many of the victims. Insurers become party to these crimes when terms of cover require Council's to keep quiet.
THIS SITE CONTAINS MANY EXAMPLES OF LOCAL COUNCIL'S UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOUR -
With thanks to Action Groups across the country for the supply of real case history and supporting documents. *THAT THE PUBLIC MAY KNOW*
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