Judge blasts Council for ‘nonsense’ garden case
“Unwise prosecution is an appalling waste of money”
A CROWN court judge has slammed Thanet council for an “appalling waste of public money” after prosecuting a Ramsgate man for breaching an enforcement notice over unauthorised development in his garden.
Judge Timothy Nash described the case as a nonsense and refused to fine Bernard Baldwin because it had cost him enough already.
He added that if there was a way he could order the council to pay Baldwin’s costs, he would.
The judge made his comments as he sentenced 64-year-old Baldwin who had admitted two offences relating to land at Pegwell Road, Ramsgate.
Sentence had, in fact, been brought forward because Baldwin is due to go into hospital for major surgery and Judge Nash commented that he did not want to add to Baldwin’s anxieties.
He said: “When the case was opened to me it passed through my mind that those people who seek to complain about the bureaucracy and red tape in Brussels, should look no further than Thanet District Council’s planning authority.”
He added that ironically one of the photos used as an exhibit in the case showed two donkeys looking over a fence. “It is sometimes said the law is an ass, I say no more,” he said.
“You are in the dock because some well-intending person made a complaint to the council and the council then embarked on a course which wisdom and hindsight, aided by even the vaguest objectivity, would have revealed to them was unwise. “I hesitate to think what this case has cost the taxpayers of Thanet.”
“It is all an appalling waste of public and private money. All because your paddock was a matter of feet too high at one end and five feet or so high at the other. This case is a nonsense.”
“I have to deal with you in a way that is sensible and fair. Your counsel says I should fine you. No, I am not going to do that. You have paid enough of a price already. I could conditionally discharge you, I am not going to do that either because that means you are a hostage to any action the council may hereafter take. You have heard what Thanet District Council is asking by way of costs, you are not paying costs to anybody.”
He then wished Baldwin well saying he hoped the news from his surgery was good.