TRANSCRIPT WEALDEN APN 20 FEB 2000
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TRANSCRIPT – WITHYHAM
Plans North Committee Meeting 10 February 2000
Land adjacent to Shetlands, Summersales
authority to carry out works, or of….
Yes Chairman this um report which has appended to it a
(Enforcement man.) previous report considered by APN is seeking to reaffirm authority previously given by
Council engaged in practice to undertake works in
………..…. of on this
There are a number of reasons er why we have sought out the affirmation and that is because
primarily it has been some time since the last authority was given and you will see in 87 the
claim had been put forward by the owner Mr Hoath that the containers on the site were now
used solely for and were agriculturally justified.
We needed therefore to get the county estates surveyor there in order to visit the premises,
look at these um containers and you will see that his views are very clear that there is no
agricultural justification for the containers on the land
At the bottom of NT6 you will also note that the owner of the land Mr Hoath is not the
easiest of persons to get on with. He has threatened officers and members. He is known to
own firearms and we were therefore er required if you like to go to the Magistrates Court for
a warrant and it was important that the local police were
requested to, to attend.
We have now received the quote er for the removal of the containers and subject obviously
to your decision today we would proceed to remove with that action albeit it would be with
Interruption Closed session? Yes it’s a closed session……………..can I ask where you are on the
agenda……………………….. carry …on
Mr Phillips Proceed I say with caution and we have been advised by the local police that they will be
prepared to attend on the day.
There is one letter of update um. Before reading it out um, I think I should draw everybody’s
attention to the fact that it has been sent to us in absolute confidence because of essentially the
fear that a number of local residents have of this individual. The notice er the letter makes
clear that the owner of the site lost his appeal in August 1998. The last day for compliance
was Oct 1998. The residents adjoining the property are now extremely annoyed that this is
now over 15 months from that date and no action has been taken to remove the containers
despite assurances from the Council.
Since that time more containers have arrived on the site together with additional hardcore and
rubbish. With regards to the appeal decision they point out that this is within an area of
AONB. And that er the they fail to understand why the District Council continues to delay
action and it seems to them that wishes of the residents in the area supported by the DOE
have been ignored due to the Council’s lack of resolve to stand up to one individual who
obviously feels that he is
in a position …… the law.
They have written on several occasions and they understand that yet another Council
committee meeting – I assume that to be this one – is due to take place shortly when we hope
that at last action will be taken to comply with the decision of the Inspector and the wishes of
local residents. And that is signed by the the residents of three er nearby sorry four nearby
Thank you. Cllr ?
Cllr ? Um ……. this one I think that Cllr Edwards is more o’fay… he’s …. been shot at…..um
he’s in the firing line I support the officers on this. We have got, I think we have got, all
received a registered letter. My concern is that .... he can cause problems and I don’t know
whether we …... mainly propel ourselves into Court. I don’t believe that we are I don’t
believe we are covered.
Mr Johnson …….I was explaining to Cllr Edwards. Also involved in this and had ………made to him in
correspondence with Mr Hoath. I think if if a person like Mr Hoath tried to pick off and
intimidate individual members by threatening to take proceedings against them for decisions
made as a member of the subcommittee I think if if by any slim chance he were to dare to ..
and shelled out the money to start proceedings against that individual member. Then I’m sure
the Council would support that individual member in defending that proceedings if it that it
actions taken by the committee as a whole.
He wouldn’t have any grounds to take proceedings, but if he did some
I say it wouldn’t be left to the individual member
to deal with himself I’m sure the Council would support it.
But the situation has never arisen um because you don’t’ run
across people every day of the week there may be a few like him in the
district a small group and he was here this morning with with another
member of that small group they are working together on this Mr Hudson
together partners in crime as it were.
As I say I don’t think there is any prospect
I wouldn’t worry if I was an individual member being threatened
by Mr Hoath because as I say the Council would come to protect him …
Thank you Mr Chairman. I
would like to correct one or two small points that …...
I’ve never been threatened with firearms. I’ve have received a recorded deliver um letter last Good
Friday which threatened to prosecute me for criminal conspiracy.
But that’s the only threat I’ve actually had from him.
Um. What I would
like to say is that I totally repudiate everything he says in his 27
page letter. And I would like to express and
I hope the committee would join me, my utmost confidence in Mr Johnson
as a very good um solicitor and a very good servant of this Council.
I’m sure we all agree with those points
Thank you Mr Chairman.
Very reassuring. I
assure you I that I don’t take Mr Hoath’s threats too seriously.
This isn’t the first threatening letter I’ve had from him.
This has been going on for as Cllr Edwards knows for some time.
And I I’ve been sworn at by him on site as well.
I think if the members had read the correspondence they’ll see
what went on. He’s
so …. like eccentric and obviously slightly ill as well and that’s
er the reason why I don’t his threats seriously.
I think Mr Phillips
would agree knowing the sort of person he is.
His reaction I think is because the officers are making some of
progress in in getting to .. some success
with enforcement action. Getting
under his skin as it were. I
think where Mr Hoath thrives is he likes people to take action against
him as Cripps, Harries, Hall did. And that gives him a platform to erm
sort of spin out these matters as he did with Cripps, Harries, Hall.
Council are refusing to give him that platform by taking the action been
recommended. I think it
would be a mistake in this case to take Magistrates Court action against
Mr Hoath because that is exactly what he wants.
He will take the Council to the High Court if the Council had the
temerity to take proceedings against him.
by taking this action in default we are putting the onus onto him to
challenge it and that is what he doesn’t like.
I think that is the way it should be carried on.
But um obviously, that is not a recommendation.
Cllr Mrs Wilson First.
Cllr Mr Wilson
Thank you. Could I
just ask about one point that Mr Hoath made in his 27 pages that did
just catch my eye. He said
he is bankrupt and it’s not up to him to be able to remove anything
from his land. Does he have a point there?
Er, he uses his bankruptcy when it suits him.
But he as you can see in the correspondence also disputes the
bankruptcy. His trustee in
bankruptcy has never ever received a penny from him.
Cos er, He has really he carries on as he likes on his land.
He hides behind his bankruptcy when it suits him.
He tried to claim that the enforcement this enforcement action
was invalid from the start because copies hadn’t been served on his
trustee in bankruptcy but that only arose after he lost his appeal.
It wasn’t raised before then.
So we never treated that seriously.
His trustee in bankruptcy is aware of what is going on.
And is in just a a complicated dispute with him as as we are. He, he really ignores his bankruptcy um most part of
the time and just carries on on that site as he wishes.
And um, let’s, I can’t say too much about what goes on at the
site, that is confidential even to members and doesn’t even concern
this Council. Suffice it to
say there are other agencies extremely interested in what is going on on
that site and er…
That doesn’t quite answer the question.
Has he got a point that he wouldn’t have been in a position to
remove …..… if he’d wanted to, Because of his bankruptcy?
he’s he has to account to his trustee for the money his estate
receives. But he can still
carry on on that land as he wishes as far as um carrying on
business….….. is concerned. He
really has to, he is allowed to, he is not allowed to be a director of a
company but he is allowed to carry on a business to a certain extent, to receive rents
and things like that etc, and to allow people to work on his land.
But he could dispose of potential assets for no consideration
which is which is effectively what we are asking him to do?
Um I think that if if he were co-operating with his trustee in
bankruptcy as a normal bankrupt would be doing, then his trustee in
bankruptcy would be wanting him to deal with this problem by taking the
Cllr Mrs Wilson
But there wouldn’t be any repercussion on him if he just
decided to do it?
I’ve got several people still wanting to speak.
I don’t want to take too long on this – Mrs Whittle.
Cllr Mrs Whittle I just wondered
whether what he says about certain officers is in fact libellous?
We would have to take, we would have to take, the normal practice, we would have to take our own separate action against that individual…… the Council
….will not act corporately on our behalf.
He has been confidently libelling the officers for the last year
or so. But as I explained
before, it would be stupid to take action against him on defamation
because again that would give him the platform he wants to be able to
spin this out through the Courts……
But I was thinking about the harm to the officers
reputation…rather than merely a personal ….
Speaking personally, I’m not worried as long as members, I mean
it could be a situation that members would require me or other officers
that are are libelled in correspondence to take action to defend
themselves for the Council’s sake if you like.
But I still think that Mr Hoath is is such a person that that he
would thrive on……
It would do more harm than good?
He would love to defend himself …..he enjoyed himself no end on
didn’t emerge from the proceedings very well if you read the full
transcript but he still won his case and that’s given him the spur to
try and sort of get proceedings going involving the Council and give him
another few years entertainment. That’s the way I see it anyway.
Right I’ve still got several …um…..…want to
speak….items they want to discuss Cllr ….Neville.
Thank you . … see no harm serving notice on this trustee, the
trustee in bankruptcy is actually just as fed up as we are and perhaps
that would solve that loophole.
Yes, it’s a bit late to serve notice on them, what I was
thinking, as as I was um talking about that with you, I was thinking
that I would write to the trustee in bankruptcy to let them know what is
going on. We are in contact with them on the phone.
We were checking with them the other day as to whether they have
actually ever received any money from Mr Hoath’s estate and in fact
they haven’t. In seven or
eight years of the bankruptcy… over in Gloucester…. We will let them know what is going on and get their
formal views. I’m sure
they will supporting us.
Mr Chairman, I would like to join with the first two speakers who
sympathise with the officers on all the work they have had to do on
this……but I do want to take up the points made by Cllr Neville and
just before that by Cllrs Mrs Wilson.
According to my references the trustee has a very strong
position, is entitled to sell property and could long ago have taken
this action to recover……Cripps, Harries Hall debt ….
but has chosen not to do so.
I don’t see how we would be er playing to um this fellow
whatever it is name is is vanity by going to the trustees or trustee
rather and asking that he take action in this matter.
There does seem …that was one point in a very wild letter,
letters, which we have all had which did come across, that seemed to
have some validity. That er the trustee should have a standing here.
His standing could provide for.. and therefore we have er, in
failing to go to the trustee we have left a gap and I, I do earnestly
suggest we should close this before we proceed to any enforcement.
Mr Chairman. Yes I
was going to make that same point myself…….and we have a proper
………and the other letter….with a reference to seeking ….from
councillors personally… Another thing that puzzled me think it very unfair that
Mr Johnson’s he’s an undeclared, un-discharged bankrupt so
presumably has no means. So
how does he live. And where
would he get all the money for us to pay out…..
I would like to propose that this is deferred and we have a
proper written answer to these allegations being made.
think it very unfair that Mr Johnson is being penalised and others have
been libelled …..that they are being dishonest.
Should be defended by the Council, …or defend themselves…. it
will leave everything up in the air if we don’t do anything at all.
So what do you propose
I propose that this be deferred here and now and we have a proper
Do you want… are you asking us to go to the trustee in
bankruptcy with a letter asking exactly what the position is.
I think the position is, from my experience talking to the
trustee in bankruptcy is that the case is at the bottom of his pile and
he is quite happy to leave it there, because of the difficulties in
dealing with Mr Hoath.
That’s not our problem……..
I don’t think there is going to be any movement there……
sort of …. A trustee
concentrates on the matters in which he can make some progress and he is
quite happy to leave Mr Hoath’s case at the bottom of the pile.
But that’s not fair on you or …
I don’t want to prolong this much further.
I’ve still got several speakers…….Cllr Ryde.
Yes, thank you Mr Chairman.
Mr Phillips said that he quotations for the skip…… because,
because I think this is relevant to recovery.
The Council has a duty to try to recover.
You are not going to recover from Mr Hoath or whatever his name
is, surely you have got to recover from the trustee in bankruptcy,
surely you want to recover from if there is any chance at all of costs
I can share some light there.
In respect of trustees in bankruptcy many times they don’t see
these cases as a priority but er for whatever reason if they were going
to take action I think they would have years ago.
The problem is that we have residents affected and residents
The quotes that we have um are based on an average of eight
containers on the site, which is about the number that were there
yesterday at about midday. We
have been quoted £135 for removal of each container and the company
that we will be likely subject to today’s decision, to put the job
with, have also indicated that after the three days which we are honour
bound to store any materials removed from the site, after which time we
can dispose of them, and use any receipts to offset our costs, the
company is indicated that they would pay us of the order of £350 per
container. Which might
actually mean that we could end up with a first in this in so far as
that we might actually be delivering a cheque to Mr Hoath for buttons.
(MUCH LAUGHTER) That would actually be the first one that I am
aware of where we have actually recovered more that more money than the
job’s cost. It’s not a
great amount of money compared to the number of letters …..
Cllr Mrs Tidy.
Cllr Mrs Tidy
Thank you Chairman. I
think that it is imperative that we get on and do this……..
One question I would like to ask, is that if Mr Hoath carries out
his threat to um carry round on a trailer ….. a placard damning this
council as a whole and all its members, can we then take action because
he damning not just a member or an officer but he is damning the whole
of the council and its members…..
Well he did threa… he did phone me up to invite me to the
unveiling ceremony and he said that that Mr Hudson would be there and er
I terminated the conversation quickly.
Er, and (does that mean you put the phone down)
and I asked people to look out for a trailer… Nobody saw one.
I ‘m sure I would have …… if there had been a sign all
around Crowborough as he was threatening to do.
I think it’s just another of his threats but er, I mean if it
had been carried out obviously the Council would want to take action,
but the problem is Harries Hall had the same problem as when they took
action, a self help action which wasn’t very wise in the
circumstances. And I say it was all part of his goading
policy but er as I say he did actually say that it was being unveiled on
a particular day………hopefully….
Cllr (?) is there
something that you want to say?
yes I would like to move for the recommendation .
Have you got a seconder.
If that’s the position Chairman, please make a note in the
minutes that I didn’t vote.
Will do. Cllr Mrs ?
Could I just ask one more question.
Once these containers are removed, his trustee in bankruptcy
received a ….. cheque, what is there, or what is the chances of him
not bringing new containers ……is there any thing we can do to
I think there is every opportunity, or every chance rather that
he will seek to create more mischief.
If he brings more containers back they are covered by exactly the
same notice that we are acting under now.
Right so it would go through the whole process ……
Exactly. If he were
hell bent on creating mischief which he has shown ..….for ….
bringing houseboats to the site, then we would have serve a different
notice or pursue an injunction.
Chairman. Just one
other thing I did notice today that when Mr Hudson was here, he did
passed the Press a whole swatch of documents which they perused for
about half an hour then handed back to him………… …….what might
be in the press this weekend.
Right, its been moved and seconded for action to be
taken…….those in favour…… Any
Sorry, no I feel very strongly that we are unwise to take this
step without first going through the trustee in bankruptcy as I
suggested that…. I was
going to propose that as a motion.
I’ll be writing to the trustee in bankruptcy in any case.
Do we know who is the trustee in bankruptcy is …..
Price, Waterhouse solicitors and ………a branch of
………... When he told me that he was unveiling a trailer sign er
attacking me …………..there was another trailer er attacking Price
Waterhouse under the ……. the same…….er …. I felt that …..
Mr Chairman, there does seem to be some misunderstanding about
what our last motion was on …….
whether it was that we should go to the trustee in bankruptcy first or
we should take immediate action …….
The last motion was the officer recommendation
Well Surely, we should take the, any vote other than that before
we take the officer recommendation …..
Mr Johnson I will in any event write to the trustee in bankruptcy tomorrow and also try to contact him on
the telephone tomorrow to tell him exactly what is going on. So, if there is any problem then
er the action will not be taken. But er, you can be assured that if the trustee in bankruptcy
objects and says that he doesn’t want it to be done, then it won’t be. I can’t imagine that that
will be the case, but I will be contacting him tomorrow and writing to him ……….. give that
assurance to members.
That’s fine Mr Chairman, then can we please make sure that that
is recorded in the minutes.
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