Police confirm intimidation of JR applicant

According to Points West last night, the police have confirmed that the anonymous former applicant was indeed subjected to intimidation:

“The police have confirmed to us that his car window was smashed, his flowerbeds damaged and his name spray painted on a wall near his house”

Peter Crispin, of SAVE, added that they had even installed CCTV to try to allay the worries of the man.

If you are quick, you can catch the broadcast here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01cyzh2/BBC_Points_West_06_03_2012/

The report starts at 7 minutes 50 seconds in.

UPDATE:

The question that springs to my mind is whether this intimidation could also be linked to the alleged bribe, i.e. was this a carrot and stick combination?

Otherwise we have at least two different people, both of whom knew the name and address of the supposedly anonymous applicant, both willing to, allegedly, apply undue pressure.

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125 Comments

  1. The Bristol Blogger
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Presumably the CCTV would have recorded SDR leaving his home for the last time? Let’s hope the police have seized it as potential evidence …

  2. Ryan
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Have police confirmed intimidation?

    Or have they confirmed incidents which may have been intimidation or (albeit unlikely) unconnected?

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I think that having his name sprayed on a local wall pretty much confirms that this was an attempt to intimidate him.

      • Jabberwocky
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        Why not let the Police investigate the actual evidence before you try to pass your judgement like you were some kind of independent arbiter?
        Or if its a smear job you’re looking for have you considered that SAVE might have done it themselves to make it look that way! (after all you’ve never met them so you can’t be sure what tactics they might find attractive)

        • Anthony Butcher
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

          The police have investigated and confirmed that it took place. That’s what the whole article is about. Given that they don’t appear to have a suspect for the vandalism, I would say that the investigation is probably at an end.

          WRT your suggestion that it might be SAVE members terrorising their friend and neighbour, you are of course free to engage in this kind of dissonance-avoiding fantasy. I’ll stick to thinking that it is far more likely to be a BCFC supporter taking things way too far.

          • Ashton Kate
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

            No evidence so blame it on the City fans after all we are all hooligans are we not. Don’t brand us all the same.

  3. Miles
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me that thinks that Crispin’s expression “I then in actual fact myself gone down the police station on at least one occasion…” are the words of a man used to embellishing stories?

    Anthony, it seems to me that there are several potential explanations for the vandalism reported ranging from deliberate intimidation through unconnected mindless vandalism (which you must surely agree is frankly the most plausible) and even potentially a campaigner seeking to generate evidence of intimidation in the same way that campaigners have pretended to be City fans and generated “evidence of intimidation” on the City fans forum. But what seems to me to be a giant leap is your thinly veiled accusation that it has been an orchestrated “carrot and stick combination” by the landowners. You’ve watched too many spy movies.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Hi Miles, welcome to the blog.

      I really don’t think that anyone can seriously claim that the acts of vandalism are ‘unconnected’. Did you miss the bit about having his name sprayed on a local wall? Does that genuinely sound like a bit of random vandalism? I think that is self-evidently someone sending a message.

      As for a member of SAVE deliberately terrorising a friend and neighbour just to create some favourable headlines… it would take a special kind of monster to do that. Far more likely it is a disgruntled fan making a point.

      I certainly didn’t make an accusation at all. It was purely a question that sprang to mind. The alternative is that at least two different people were allegedly willing to target this man. And I do love a good spy movie, yes.

      :)

      • Miles
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Firstly let me state that I have no idea whether an inducement was offered but I would think if it was there will be an audit trail somewhere eventually (unless you are suggesting cash in suitcases left by men in dark suits and sunglasses by park benches). I therefore have no reason to believe that a businessman (by which I have asumed you mean Steve Lansdown) was willing to target SDR as you allege.

        I also have no idea what the grafiti says, in what context SDR’s name is disclosed or even whether there is any photographic evidence pre-dating his withdrawal but it appears from reading comments such as Bert’s that a number of people in the community knew who he was. In that event I think it plausible that some young mindless toe rag might have thought it clever to spray it on a wall. Again, that’s a giant leap from someone doing this to target SDR or to intimidate him into a withdrawal.

        Knowing Steve Lansdown reasonably well through my role with the Supporters Trust I can categorically confirm that he is not the sort of person to encourage anyone to intimidate anyone else. It’s paranoic and insulting to imply that he would.

        By the way, you can claim what you like about whether you have made the accusation or not simply because you framed it in the form of a question but I certainly interpreted your comment as you suggesting he used a “carrot and stick combination” to intimidate SDR to get his way.

        Finally it has been clear for several years that the campaigners have been crying foul about intimidation and finding a rich vein of sympathy from people who only want to see football fans through the stereotype of hooligans from the 1980s. Has it not crossed your mind that these false accusations have led City fans to be extremely careful to avoid any such accusations in the future? Why would a City fan set out to intimidate knowing that your side would use this to damage our cause? It’s illogical. That doesn’t mean to say that Ashton Vale would avoid incidences of crime any more than it has historically. It’s contemptible that you should conclude that any of the alleged acts of vandalism are the work of someone “sending out a message”.

        • bert
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          The “businessman” is not Steve Lansdown. It is not someone directly employed by BCFC or the landowners. But he claimed to be working for BCFC.

          • Miles
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

            Hi Bert, a businessman working for BCFC ergo you are saying that they are the actions of Steve Lansdown. What’s the difference whether you are saying it’s Steve Lansdown in person or someone on behalf of Steve Lansdown?

        • Anthony Butcher
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

          Miles, it wasn’t Steve Lansdown. I don’t know why you would assume that. Apparently the business man in question was actually named in the court papers.

          I am afraid that I can’t help it if you wrongly interpret what I write. I believe that it is worded clearly enough. For future reference, if I want to accuse someone of something I will include their name and a direct statement of what they did or said.

          While you may consider it ‘contemptible’ that one should conclude that having your named sprayed on a wall, along with other vandalism, while you are supposed to be anonymous is ‘sending a message’ I think that most people would consider it common sense. Burying your head in the ground and trying to claim that not one single football fan might be stupid or aggressive enough to do this isn’t very believable.

          As much as football hooliganism has indeed improved, there are still plenty of examples of stupid and aggressive behaviour from small groups of BCFC fans in recent years. Here are a few that jumped out of Google:

          From January:
          http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Bristol-City-football-thugs-bars-pub-violence/story-14972124-detail/story.html

          “THREE Bristol City football fans who clashed with QPR supporters in a violent confrontation at a pub in West London have been jailed.”

          From 2010:
          http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Fans-involved-pub-brawl-given-suspended-sentences/story-11291206-detail/story.html

          “BRISTOL City fans described by a judge as acting like a “pack of hounds” when they attacked Leeds United supporters in a pub have been handed suspended jail terms.”

          Also 2010:
          http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/TROUBLE-FLARES-MILLWALL-GAME/story-11259829-detail/story.html

          “IN some of the worst football-related disorder seen in Bristol for years, stones and bottles were thrown and at least three fans injured as violence erupted between Bristol City and Millwall fans.”

          • Ryan
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            Anthony, can you reveal your source as the BBC report the businessman is not named in the court papers?

          • Anthony Butcher
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

            I can’t remember where I saw that now, sorry. The important thing is that it is not Steve Lansdown!

          • Ryan
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

            But to me it is important. You say he’s named. The BBC says he is not. I fail to see how both can be accurate.

          • Anthony Butcher
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            You are right, they can’t both be accurate.

          • bert
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            The BBC/BEP only have one document from the Court – a copy of the applicant’s legal submissions. They do not have any other documents.

            The “businessman” is named in the witness statements and in emails. He is not named in the court submissions but these then refer to the documents.

          • Miles
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            Hi Anthony,

            If you pay for an assassin you may not pull the trigger but you are responsible for the murder. Bert here is saying that the businessman was acting for BCFC, a business owned by Steve Lansdown. To say you’re not referring to Steve Lansdown seems like more semantics to me.

            Similarly if you say “[could] this intimidation…also be linked to the alleged bribe, i.e. was this a carrot and stick combination?” you are to my mind inviting your reader to reach a conclusion that it is plausible that Steve Lansdown bribes and intimidates to get his way. I agree that you are not explicitly saying this about Steve Lansdown; where we appear to disagree is that I consider that you are suggesting it implicitly.

            I’m not the one burying my head. If you re-read my first post you will see that I said that one potential explanation is deliberate intimidation. I just don’t consider it to be the most plausible explanation even if it is, for you, the most convenient.

            The Evening Post is today reporting on Operation Relentless with 88 arrests in Bristol so far. Guess what? One or two of these criminals might occasionally go to a football match. We live in a society where some people don’t behave and with such a large number of people going to a football match it’s inevitable that there are one or two crimes committed occasionally. Do we assume all rugby players are thugs because a local player was jailed yesterday for throwing a violent punch?

            The media loves reporting on crimes that occur in connection with a football match but they don’t tend to report on things like giving 600 books to local schools and organising City v Rovers football matches for charity. As a result people focus on this negative. Society is fed stories that make non-football supporters think that football supporters are all thugs but this is simply not the case. You have extrapolated a handful of crimes across the whole fan base and concluded that Bristol City fans are the sort of people who would intimidate.

            Let me give you an example of this negative reporting. When the Sainsbury’s application was initially turned down by councillors despite the recommendation from the council’s planning department to approve, although Bristol City supporters left the Council House with decorum, the anger on internet chat rooms was palpable. Many City fans bombarded the Council with emails expressing their anger and one or two comments were unacceptable. Consequently BBC local news came to my office to film me and answer questions about the fans’ behaviour. However, after the decision to split the TVG site was made the response by TVG campaigners included verbal intimidation throughout the meeting followed by threats and pushing around of one of our Board members in the ugly melee that proceeded the decision. But on this occasion there was no interview about the behaviour exhibited by TVG campaigners. The stereotype of football hooligans means that the TVG campaigners are allowed to show their frustration but City fans cannot.

            The lesson City fans learnt following that first decision against Sainsburys was that our actions will be used against us. There has been no widespread intimidation because we’re not that sort and because to do so would be counterproductive. Your side have shamelessly exaggerated this aspect of a small fraction of society’s criminals being associated with football to bolster your claims. While some incidences of criminal behaviour will inevitably have occurred in Ashton Vale as they will have done in the past, I find it very hard to believe this convenient, almost entirely unsubstantiated conspiracy theory of mass intimidation, they don’t reconcile with my own experience of fellow City fans and they perpetuate a misinformed image of Bristol City fans.

          • Anthony Butcher
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

            James, with all due respect, I am not Bert. You can’t infer that I am talking about Steve Lansdown based on something that someone else has said, especially after I have very specifically said that I am not. It is also NOT what Bert said anyway, if you read it more carefully. He said that the man claimed to represent BCFC, not that he worked for them. The club has categorically denied any involvement.

            At no point have I suggested that all fans are in any way responsible. As with any group, you get a cross-section of society, albeit a male dominated one with football. I did suggest that the most likely answer is that one or two would be responsible. There is also the possibility that it was self-inflicted by the TVG group (which I think highly unlikely), or perhaps as part of the alleged bribery situation. The less you think it likely that it is a fan responsible, the more likely it is linked to that alleged bribery.

        • P may
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          Miles I’m afraid this is the modus operandi of these people, alledge something or accuse somebody but always couched in indirect terms ” I was told ” or ” I’m led to believe” the damage is then done as its normally splashed across some blog or paper report.its insidious smearing perfected by politicians over many years, throw enough mud and some will stick.
          I note the bbc are reporting the businessman was not named in the court papers nor was there any direct evidence of bribery attempted or otherwise, I don’t know how accurate that report is as Bristol blogger thinks otherwise.

          • The Bristol Blogger
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

            I’m perfectly satisfied there’s evidence there in the same way I was always perfectly satisfied that there was evidence of intimidation of the applicant.

            Just because you haven’t seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Perhaps you need to push local news organisations harder to publish the information they have?

            They’ve known about the vandalism at Ashton Vale for months but only revealed it now. I don’t know why.

          • Miles
            Posted 8th March, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

            Hi Anthony,

            Whether there is a meaningful difference between the “businessman” working for Steve Lansdown or representing him is surely a moot point. Even if we ignore Bert’s comments, who else could you possibly be inferring was using the stick and carrot combination? Are you seriously suggesting that someone without a financial interest in the project is willing to give cash to see it succeed?

            One or two young kids trampling flowers and spraying graffiti is plausible but not in itself reason enough to feel so intimidated as to both withdraw and to say that the reason for withdrawal was a positive reason (job creation) rather than for fear of personal safety. The reason for expanding is that as I understand it one of the key arguments for allowing a substitution is that the TVG campaigners are arguing that there has always been a high level of intimidation and that this must be the reason for the withdrawal and not the reason stated.

            To back up this argument we, according to BBC, now have a police report of vandalism in the area but not much else it seems. Except that there appears to be a rumoured 60 page document supporting the case for a substitution due to an overwhelming level of unreported unsubstantiated intimidation. Surely it’s not one or two responsible for such a weighty tome?

            Ross Crail’s Inspector’s Report is littered with examples of where she could not believe some of the stories told in support of the land’s use. (How we can rely on any report that is based on a barrister’s view of who is telling lies and who isn’t when the testaments are not even under oath seems truly weird to me but that’s a different matter). Did any of the same people who were discounted by Crail as fabricators provide any of this evidence of intimidation I wonder?

            Miles

          • Anthony Butcher
            Posted 8th March, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

            Miles, there are plenty of businessmen with a financial interest in the development. As I keep saying it is NOT Steve Lansdown. I really don’t know what more I can say.

          • bobs
            Posted 9th March, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

            Why do people think this is all about a football stadium ? If so, do you really think all these GWEBusiness West and IofD people would be interested?

            This is about £100million of public money being spent on two large roads which cross this land and which open up the green belt to development. Roads being built to empty fields.

            This is about all the “businessmen” who have bought up agricultural land in North Somerset speculating that they will soon get planning permission for development.

            The football stadium is just the hook to hang this on. It is the method for breaching the greenbelt.

            Meanwhile, there are 100s of acres of empty commercial and derelict spaces in this City (including in Ashton Vale and Bedminster and Southville) which are being left empty as there is no money to be gained by getting planning permission to build on this land. The City Centre is a ghost town there is so much empty property.

          • Posted 9th March, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            That’s a useful context to put it in, bobs. It could (going into conspiracy mode) explain the mystery businessman offering inducements. It doesn’t have to be someone with close links to the club – just one of the many people speculating on rising land values if/when the stadium deal goes through.

          • Miles
            Posted 10th March, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            Stockwood Pete, this is a flawed and illogical argument. I recognise that there is concern about development on the green belt but the planning permission has already been given and any developer in the area can point at that decision and try and use it to back their claim if they want.

            (Their attempt wouldn’t succeed because the planning permission explicitly excluded a residential development because the planning department weren’t satisfied that it was needed to financially enable the stadium build. The stadium was only approved because it met the exceptional circumstances required to approve building on green belt. It therefore doesn’t set a precedent to allow other development in any case.)

            But why would any of the land prospectors be bothered about whether a rubbish tip is approved as a TVG when planning permission has already been approved? The short answer is that they wouldn’t. The only businessman who would have a motive in inducing the applicant to withdraw his claim is someone with a financial stake in the new venture.

            And bobs, we all know that this is not about the bigger picture of trying to stop development on other green belt. That may have been a valid argument in objecting to the development at planning permission stage but having lost that argument it is lost for good. Unless you think you can make the whole of that area of land a TVG as well then supporting the TVG claim to help prevent development on the green belt is nonsensical. The bottom line is this is now about preventing this specific development due to a variety of concerns about having a stadium and the associated approved developments. However, one thing you, Anthony and I all appear to agree on is that this is not about protecting a piece of cherished land used by its community as what any ordinary person would ever describe as a town or village green.

          • Posted 10th March, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

            Miles

            Yes, I accept that what I suggested does stretch credulity, and I certainly wasn’t claiming it’s a fact. In truth, it’s far more likely that whoever offered inducements was somehow a more direct potential beneficiary of the stadium and the rest of the development going ahead.

            There was a lot of green belt land bought up in that SW corner of Bristol, especially as the (now defunct) Regional Spacial Strategy looked like designating it for an urban extension to Bristol. The ring road, too, is seen in some quarters as a service road for such development. It’s not hard to see the link between the initial development at the ‘town green’ site, and the growth of development well beyond.

            As for any agreement that “this is not about protecting a piece of cherished land used by its community as what any ordinary person would ever describe as a town or village green.” I don’t think that’s wholly true. Sure, many of us see much wider impacts that are implicit in the stadium development, others look at the local impacts of parking, traffic, noise and the like – and some do really want to retain the access to the land for recreational purposes as they’ve enjoyed it for twenty years or more.

            The Town and Village Green legislation never pretended to be solely about village cricket and duck ponds.

  4. bert
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Anthony

    I presume you are aware that Mr SDR’s name and address have been posted on Twitter since November 2011 by a person (1) claiming to be a BCFC fan and (2) linked to other BCFC connections.

    I am also told that John Lansdown wrote to you identifying SDR by name. Also, both the BEP and the BBC have reported trying to contact SDR at home and by phone.

    His identity was widely known by those who wanted to know it. The “businessman” identified in the statements and emails accompanying the court papers has been contacting SDR about AV since 2010, according to emails sent by the “businessman”.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      I wasn’t aware that his name and address had been published. Surely that is a matter for the police? It wouldn’t be hard to obtain a court order to find out the identity of the person who posted it.

      I am not aware of receiving a letter from John Lansdown identifying the chap.

      • Ryan
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        For the avoidance of doubt, have you received a letter from Jon Lansdown (i.e. Jon not John) identifying SDR?

        • bobs
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

          Careful – It might have been from a TVG supporter pretending to be him

        • Anthony Butcher
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

          No, I don’t think that I have ever received a letter from him.

      • Chris
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Anthony,

        Out of curiosity, what are your opinions of the Bristol Blogger publishing a very lightly redacted copy of the retraction letter recently?

        One person did actually manage to trace the applicants step son from just that letter.

        Don’t you think that is also a breach of the court order and a matter for the police? Personally, I have never seen the ‘tweet’ in question, but I have seen the letters published by Bristol Blogger.

        Do two wrongs make a right? Who should be prosecuted?

        • Anthony Butcher
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          I think that he/she is sailing a bit close to the wind and I don’t think that I would have revealed the initials.

          Someone claims that they managed to track down the stepson’s identity from it, but that could just be troublemaking.

          However, if his identity has already been leaked to numerous people (as suggested by the intimidation and alleged bribe), has appeared on Twitter and the media know his identity, then that horse has probably bolted. Since the former applicant has now walked away I am not sure what the legal position is, although I would assume that the anonymity order still stands.

          Having said all of that, the less-censored letter exposed BCC’s attempt to hide the highly unusual fact that he had apparently handed over legal guardianship. There are so many shenanigans going on here it is shocking.

    • P may
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Bert, you have now made an accusation that Jon lansdown revealed the name of sdr in a letter to a long Ashton councillor, breaking a court order of anonymity.
      Anthony has clearly denied this, is an apology to mr lansdown forthcoming? Or are you once again just going to let lies and innuendo hang in the air?
      Your disgraceful attempts at smearing people beggar belief.

      • bert
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I passed on what I was told out of interest. If I am wrong I am wrong and I apologise for passing on what I was told.

        Everything else in my post is from my personal knowledge.

        • P may
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for the apology bert but I Think you need to apologise to mr lansdown as I’m quite sure during this current climate he will be unhappy at such allegations.
          Now we know you have been lied to about this matter I think you should carefully consider what you put out in the public domain, it could be that you have been deceived many times.
          Just my opinion.

        • Ryan
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          Bert, since you have put false allegations against Mr Jon Lansdown into the public arena, will you now write to him to unequivocally withdraw them and apologise in the strongest possible terms?

          • bert
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

            Sorry – It turns out that the letter identifying SDR was to LAPC and not to Mr Butcher directly. I had assumed incorrctly it was copied to Mr Butcher.

          • Anthony Butcher
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

            :) I am out of the loop on many things

          • Ryan
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            Why should we trust this comment any more than your last which was hastily shown to be wrong?

          • bert
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            Because the letter states it was CC’ed to the LAPC councillors

        • P may
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          Bert
          Sorry to be pernickety but just to clear this up, you have been told a letter from Jon lansdown naming the applicant was sent to LAPC? Could you clear up a few questions
          What was the letter pertaining to? As far as I know the jr is nothing to do with LAPC .
          Who on LAPC has leaked details to the tvg about this correspondence?
          As this letter clearly breaks a court order of anonymity why was it not reported to the relevant authorities?
          If it was cc’d to LAPC councillors how come mr butcher was completely unaware of it?
          Take your time, thanks

          • bert
            Posted 7th March, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

            “As this letter clearly breaks a court order of anonymity why was it not reported to the relevant authorities?”

            It has been. It is amongst the papers given to the Judge.

    • P may
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Bristol blogger
      Maybe the media have known about the vandalism in av for months, I’ve no idea why it hasent been reported just as I’ve no idea why the tvg/save group haven’t released a statement about it bringing it to people’s attention!

      • Bobs
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        This is bizarre. There are comments here complaining that the TVGers have been both going on and on about intimidation and immediately above complaining that they havent mentioned it at all !

        • P may
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          Don’t be silly bobs. The comment means why are they only squealing about intimidation now and never made an issue of before the applicant withdrew.

          • Posted 7th March, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

            It’s probably because the applicant withdrew, P may. That meant a substitute must be found, and under the circumstances that substitute wouldn’t want to take the risks of being publicly identified. Would you?

            But Bristol City Council had other ideas, and asked the judge to have the identity of the new applicant disclosed publicly. Therefore, the TVG solicitors have been obliged to tell the judge why that’s not a good idea.

      • P may
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        I’m sorry bert are you saying LAPC handed the letter over to the tvg lawyers? Should it not have been immediately handed to the police? How long ago was the letter sent and why has it now only came to light?
        Judge underhill is not the person who should be dealing with such a matter.
        What about my other questions?

        • bert
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

          I do not know the answer to any of those questions.

        • P may
          Posted 8th March, 2012 at 1:16 am | Permalink

          Stockwood pete
          Sorry I fail to see what that’s got to do with reporting of harrasment.a simple press release at the time of the alleged incidents with no names mentioned would have been quite adequate. There would be no debate now about the veracity of the claims.

          • Posted 8th March, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

            You’d have to ask the applicants why they didn’t make the harrassment public earlier, and just settled for telling the police. My guess – and it is a guess – is that they thought publicity might just make things worse.

            But there’s no doubt it’s the council’s strange request to the judge for the new applicant to be publicly indentified that’s forced the AVG side to tell the court why that shouldn’t happen. I wonder why the council did that….. it does smack of intimidation, and I can’t think of any other reason for it.

    • P may
      Posted 8th March, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Anthony, although you are making it clear yourself it’s not Steve lansdown, bert clearly stated the businessman claims to be working for bcfc. As Steve lansdown owns bcfc the inference is clear, he’s working for Steve lansdown.
      Any right minded individual would come to that conclusion.
      Bert
      E – mails since 2010? I’m pretty sure the tvg group would have been screaming this from the rooftops if that was the case.
      I look forward to seeing the evidence it should be very interesting.

      • P may
        Posted 8th March, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Stock wood pete
        There is only one applicant on the jr who I believe has said nothing at all about harrasment.
        Perhaps the council would just like to see who they taking on and sto this charade of shadowy individuals Illinois strings in the background?
        Just a guess

        • P may
          Posted 8th March, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          Sorry should read pulling strings

          • Posted 8th March, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

            No, there’s a new applicant now (or at least, that’s what the High Court should rule on) and that’s who the council wants to name.

            The applicant has to be a ‘legal entity’ – that is, a person or a corporate – which is why someone has to ‘front’ the application for a JR. It’s neither here nor there to the council who that person is – the court isn’t judging them, it’s simply reviewing the process by which the council (as registration authority) reached its decision of TG registration.

            The council, of course, is a legal entity, so no individual there has to be named. A pity. We should know who’s authorising these arguably vexacious, expensive and intimating actions.

            Simon Cook? Peter Holt the PR man? Whoever it is, is officially acting in our name, so should be identified and accountable.

      • Anthony Butcher
        Posted 8th March, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        As I said, the person who allegedly offered the money was not Steve Lansdown.

        I have no idea whether bert’s information is accurate or, even if it is, whether the ‘business man’ was telling the truth. I am not going to speculate on that aspect of it.

        • P may
          Posted 9th March, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

          Stockwood pete
          The original applicant made no claims of harrasment , that was my point, whether the tvg change the name on the application is neither here nor there.
          As for knowing who’s making vexatious and expensive claims on the councils behalf???????? Well I do believe I’ve heard it all now. This whole vexatious and expensive charade can be laid firmly at save and the tvg groups door.
          I’ve never heard such twaddle in my life.

          • The Bristol Blogger
            Posted 9th March, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

            The original applicant made complaints of harassment to the police. The BBC confirmed this.

          • P may
            Posted 9th March, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

            Bristol blogger
            On withdrawal of application was intimidation,harrasment and vandalism cited as one of or any of the reasons for withdrawal? A simple yes or no will suffice.
            The applicant made complaints to the police? Alderman crispin stated HE went to the police to complain hmmmm…..wouldn’t have a vested interest by any chance would he?

          • Posted 9th March, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

            I think we’re just describing the same thing from different perspectives, p may.

            If you can’t accept that there are different viewpoints, of course you’ll have to fall back on dismissing all but your own view as ‘twaddle’.

            You asked (very selectively, because you already knew the answer) if there was any claim of harrassment in the first applicant’s withdrawal letter. That’s the one countersigned by the stepson, granting all rights to the stepson.

            For the record, no, of course, that one didn’t mention the harrassment. It simply said
            “I would like to express to the courts that my claim withdrawal is a result of wanting to see this city going forward providing young people with employment opportunities for the greater good of many. I humbly withdraw my claim.”
            A quite remarkable conversion!

            PS You’re not Simon Cook, are you? Or his guardian?

          • P may
            Posted 9th March, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

            Stockwood pete
            I’ve no problem with accepting other viewpoints,that’s what healthy debates all about however I take issue when debate turns into quite frankly ludicrous statements.
            You know full well the actions of the tvg group at every stage of this project has been to drag out and frustrate the process at extraordinary cost so to accuse the council is as I say ludicrous.
            In what way is my question selective? It’s a straight question which I’m glad to see you answered honestly although why do you mention the stepson? Have you an issue with the mans family taking responsibility for him? You don’t appear to have an issue with alderman crispin acting on his behalf, going to the police, setting up CCTV etc.
            He is after all allegedly a frail old man

          • P may
            Posted 9th March, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            And no I’m not councillor cook, if I was on the council Bristol city would be kicking off in the new stadium next season!
            I’m sure I wouldn’t have royally messed up like those incompetent clowns

  5. Jabberwocky
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Anthony old chap, could you please furnish me a link to where you have condemned the intimidatory actions of your fellow NIMBYs at the Council House or the abuse meted out to a young lady member of the BCFC Supporters Trust?

    • bobs
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      I was at the Council House and there was no intimidation nor anyone to intimidate – unless of course you are referring to Peter Abrahams’ threat to set his lawyers on a TVG supporter who claimed he was being unfair.

      But what is this evidence of intimidation of “a young lady member of the BCFC ST” ?

      • Chris
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Oh come on ‘bobs’, the actions of the residents at the council house was disgusting!

        Shouting down opponents and council members and generally acting up IS intimidating whether you think it was designed to be or not.

        I will hold my hand up and be first to condemn these actions if they are proved to be true (I want to hear it from the horses mouth or a more reputable source than Peter ‘changes his story every two minutes’ Crispin)

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jabberwocky,
      I have no idea what you are talking about, sorry. Could you provide a link please?

      • James
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Anthony. My opinion is you have become so blinded by the fact that you have committed up to £20000 of your parishioners money, with absolutely no clue as to the benefit that may be received , you are now stooping to extraordinarily low levels of “tabloid” style blogging.

        Your “conspiracy” theory of combined carrots and stick intimidation are pathetically laughable. When did the wall incident take place? When was the money offered? Oh…and when did you see anything of absolutely any material strength whatsoever that this money was in fact offered? The court papers seem to suggest that “the claimant MAY have been offered a large sum of money by..” with no reference to ANY facts whatsoever, and with NO interaction with the original
        claimant.

        How about this. I personally believe that a member of Long Ashton Parish council, whose name I am not prepared to release, has been offered a substantial sum of money to continue campaigning against this development. I also believe that the member of the parish council stands to benefit personally if the development does not go ahead.

        If I were to put this forward in a document to the courts, in those exact words, would it be a) thrown out b) considered c) be taken as fact.

        I suspect B…hmmm..perhaps the motivation of the “bribery allegation” is a bit clearer.

        • Anthony Butcher
          Posted 7th March, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          I prefer to think of it as asking the questions that the media can’t be bothered with. This is a personal blog, not a newspaper, and I am a regular person, not a journalist.

          On the plus side, I do try not to be rude to people and fall out with them, and I just wish that some of the people commenting could embrace that spirit too. Life’s too short.

  6. Mr.P
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Butcher,

    Further to your previous statement:
    “I certainly didn’t make an accusation at all.”

    If that is the case would you therfore care to clarify what was meant by some of your previous comments:

    “I think that having his name sprayed on a local wall pretty much confirms that this was an attempt to intimidate him.”

    “I’ll stick to thinking that it is far more likely to be a BCFC supporter taking things way too far.”

    “I really don’t think that anyone can seriously claim that the acts of vandalism are ‘unconnected’. Did you miss the bit about having his name sprayed on a local wall? Does that genuinely sound like a bit of random vandalism? I think that is self-evidently someone sending a message.”

    “ Far more likely it is a disgruntled fan making a point.”

    I wil save you the embarrsaement of reffering back to previous statements too, which also appear to be accusations.

    Many Thanks
    Mr.P

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      I think that you are getting confused. The claim by Miles was that I was making an ‘thinly veiled’ accusation that the person responsible for the alleged bribe was also linked to the vandalism. I didn’t state that at all, and merely mentioned that the possibility had sprung to mind when seeing this Points West bulletin. You can see his comment that I was responding to here: http://anthonybutcher.com/2012/03/police-confirm-intimidation-of-jr-applicant/#comment-2139

  7. P may
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Am I the only one shaking my head at this farcical carry on?
    I’m starting to despair of hearing the truth from anybody.
    When the applicant withdrew his action Peter crispin stated he had no idea what was going on and that he has had no contact with the anonymous person. His latest bizzarre outburst directly contradicts himself as it appears he has been constant contact even going so far as going to the police station for the chap, this is suspicious in its own right as it could be construed as putting complaints into the applicants mouth.
    If Peter was aware of the stress the man was under why was he taken aback when the application was dropped and why didn’t they try to replace him long ago if they feared so much for his health?
    Over to you bert

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      You are not the only one shaking your head. I would agree with you that it is farcical if there wasn’t such a sinister undercurrent to it.

      Speaking from no direct knowledge, I believe that Peter Crispin was saying that he had no idea what was going on because he hadn’t been able to talk to the former applicant after the surprise letter was sent due to his disappearance.

  8. Mr.P
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your quick reply.
    Apologies if I mis-interpreted the comment (I’m aware you were replying to Miles, but I read it as you were not making “any” accusations)
    I accept then that perhaps there were no accusations by yourself, that this was orchestrated by the landowners.

    I still feel as though the comments highlighted above are accusations against BCFC, with lack of evidence, however. Does this mean that the same people who robbed Co-Op in Long Ashton this week must be City fans too?

    Many Thanks
    Mr. P

  9. James
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Anthony

    In response to your “google” to insinuate the potential for violence posed by football supporters, and Bristol City supporters in particular, you are right of course, football fans can be thugs. Out of interest, what is your view on the following stories, all of which are a little more recent than your stories..

    27 th January 2012
    AN Alresford parish councillor has been jailed for 32 months for a £1.2 million fraud against his employers.

    Feb 8th 2012
    Former council clerk jailed for 12 months for stealing £6,000 of public funds

    Dec 5th 2011
    Councillor Samuel Wilkins jailed for Twitter hate campaign against DJ

    Let me throw some more statistics your way.

    In 2010/11 a total of 214, 879 people attended Ashton Gate to watch football. There were 20 arrests, inside and outside the ground. 12 arrests were for public order.

    In 2010/11 there were total attendance in excess of 37 million at regulated football matches. The total number of arrests represents less than 0.01% of all spectators, or 1 arrest for every 12,249 spectators.

    Interestingly, the crime rate for Long Ashton is 7 crimes per 1000 head of population. If each crime was to result in an arrest that would be 0.7%, or, as you love your figures, a crime rate in your village that appears to be 7000% higher than the crime rate at football matches. Were you aware there were actually 44 violent crimes in Long Ashton in 2011?

    Could I also suggest that some of those LA arrests related to fraud. Not sure it indicates a potential for withholding the truth, but I guess it should be considered when you are using your links to BCFC hooligan incidents in order to highlight the potential for football fans to intimidate a claimant.

    For some alternative balance, there are an estimated 200,000 dog bites in the UK each year. Each year, approximately 28,000 facial dog bites are reported in the UK, with just over 19,000 of them requiring plastic surgery. 

    So, I out of interest..in whatever method you choose to judge, where would my son be safer? Outside or inside of a football ground on match day, a village green that was allegedly used extensively for dog walking?

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      You seem to have carefully avoided the entire point of the comment. Miles claimed that a BCFC fan wouldn’t be responsible because it was ‘illogical’. I merely demonstrated that there are a handful of fans who don’t necessarily follow what is logical or proper behaviour, and in this case it only takes one.

      • P may
        Posted 7th March, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        On the face of it a disgruntled city fan would be the obvious candidate for vandalism however it could equally have been a disgruntled resident who wants the project to go ahead for their own reasons and was fed up of the constant delays.
        As the police have no suspects or leads of any kind or in fact don’t seem to have investigated at all we can only engage in pointless speculation, we will never know the true facts of the matter.

  10. P may
    Posted 7th March, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Bert
    Sorry me again,you stated that the businessman was named in witness statements for the tvg lawyers yes?
    Are you saying that this businessman offered a cash incentive to the applicant in front of pro tvg witnesses? Or are the witness statements from the mans family or indeed from himself?

    • bert
      Posted 7th March, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      I do not know the answer to any of these questions either

      • P may
        Posted 8th March, 2012 at 1:10 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the honest answers bert, although I am rather surprised as you have normally appeared vocal and knowledgable about all things tvg related.
        I do hope you haven’t been told to shut up as some of your claims may get somebody in hot water!!

        • bert
          Posted 8th March, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

          I haven’t been silenced and no one has offered me money yet to keep quiet.

          I can only answer questions to which I know the answers

  11. Paul
    Posted 9th March, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Does nobody have any faith in the judge? He will see the evidence and make his decision. Not perfect, but thats the way it works in this country. Hopefully, a full account of his views will then be published, and we can all judge then. And just remember, the first p/application was first turned down for the stadium and BCFC applied again. The first application for Sainsburys was turned down and they applied again, and the first decision by BCC on the TG, is now being challenged, so this affair has been dragged out for many reasons.

  12. Ryan
    Posted 13th March, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    So… what’s happening?

    *twiddles thumbs*

    (It’s ok, I’m not in training for any thumb wrestling competitiveness so please don’t feel intimidated by me!)

  13. James
    Posted 14th March, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Either Anthony has been gagged, in which case I would be very surprised, or Anthony is on holiday…In which case I hope he’s having a lovely time…

    Although the complete silence is rather deafening..

    Maybe everyone serving away from Alderman Crispin is considering the fact that having ploughed in to support the village green rubbish tip, they have sounded the death knell to the village green legislation. Go team..great result..

    • Posted 14th March, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi James

      You guys love to refer to that part of the AV site as the rubbish tip – or worse.

      We have a similar tip here in Stockwood/Brislington. It’s been properly capped, it’s a haven for wildlife and for local people, and it’s really well used and valued, a real asset. It’s got nature reserve status, and the Wildlife Trust and the council share responsibility, while a local ‘Friends’ group has been busy reclaiming an old orchard that somehow survived the tipping.

      You’d be surprised just how much of Bristol has been used for tipping in the past. OK. it’s not ideal….. but don’t write it off.

  14. James
    Posted 14th March, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Pete, lovely. The Friends have done a great job and I’m sure the people of Stockwood/Bris enjoy it to its fullest, so they should. Rest assured though, I am certainly not “tipist”!

    The ‘tip’ in question at this end though is slightly different, and I wouldnt be as rude to challenge your intelligence on this because, as you very well know, the people pursuing this case (and you may be one) will ultimately lose it simply because it is being done for the wrong reasons. By ‘crying wolf’ just one too many times, those people who have no interest in preserving the spaces for any reasons but their own have, as I have said before, sounded he death knell for the legislation.

    Anthony continually states that the TVG regulation is “obviously” there to prevent development of land. He is wrong. It is there to protect land so it can offer continued use for recreational purposes. There is a huge distinction.

    He’s also not stupid, he knows this is abuse of the legislation, (as are a huge majority of TVG apps in the last 5 years), and yet he is amongst a group of councillors that are spending money that doesn’t belong to them, having misled their parishoners as to the outcome they believed was possible, either through deliberate misinformation or perhaps simple incompetence. It’s why the legislation will be changed and it’s why, I believe, Long Ashton PC should have a full enquiry as to the decisions they have made.

    The best any of the protesters can hope for is a delay, however, I cannot see how a delay benefits anybody but expensive lawyers.

  15. bert
    Posted 15th March, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    “The best any of the protesters can hope for is a delay ” – says James

    Actually, what the JR seeks is an Order that the Council accept the Inspector’s decision in full – which is what BCC said it would do before the decision.

    As such, the best they can hope for is an Order that BCC make the whole of the Land TVG.

    Further, the TVGers submissions, making references to several Royal Commisions on TVGs, made clear that the purpose of the TVG law is to prevent development on land used for recreation. It is only when recreational land is threatened with development that a TVG application is made. Otherwise, the historic recreational use of the land simply continues.

    There was no abuse of the legislation and the landowners never claimed it was abuse of the legislation. To say otherwise is simply propoganda.

    • Chris
      Posted 15th March, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Bert,

      It is propaganda at all, it’s downright obvious.

      I do with you people would stop trying to have us believe that this land was and is widely used! Frankly you sound like someone who is starting to believe your own lies.

      I have lived in the vicinity of the proposed site for many years, over the 20 year period required for a TVG, and it just isn’t truth.

      The application was based on that and is therefore clearly an abuse of the legislation.

      What’s more, surely this JR is about the process the council followed in making its decision, and not the decision made?

      The review would have no power at all to simply overturn the decision and I suspect you know that. If the council did lose (and it’s a big IF that the review may even go ahead it would seem) then they would have to start the process again, most likely with a similar outcome.

      Out of interest, what are your thoughts on the impending and radical changes to this TVG legislation? This land would not have a cat in hells chance of passing the new ‘quality’ tests, don’t you agree?

      Also interesting to see that in future land will be able to be de-registered much more easily, I assume if it is considered under used.

      • bert
        Posted 15th March, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Chris

        It is very clear that the Courts do have power to Order that BCC register all the land as TVG. This is exactly what has occurred in the last 4 TVG cases in front of the higher courts.

        I do not know your evidence of use but the evidence of use from 182 witnesses was compelling and also supported by the most of the Landowners’ witnesses.

        As regards the changes to the legislation, I will wait and see what these are. It is clear that this government will do everything in its power to remove money, power and rights from the poor and give them to the rich. The changes proposed are no surprise.

  16. Chris
    Posted 15th March, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Bert,

    My ‘evidence’ is my eyes and ears. I live very close to the sight.

    So why would the high court rule that the decision should be overturned? There would be absolutely no justification for it whatsoever, given that the inspectors report contained merely a recommendation and the fact there is substantial evidence to suggest the northern part of the site was used for commercial purposes during the 20 year period.

    I will bet you that the cases you refer to a significantly different to this one and involve land of genuine value and use.

    There is also precedent set the other way, check out this case, all very interesting;

    http://www.housingandpropertylawdaily.co.uk/news-by-category/2011/06/12/planning-laws-vs-village-green-legislation-who-wins–10361.html%20

    You will have to copy and paste this link.

    There was an informative article in the Sunday Times about the proposed changes last weekend, well worth a read. Your ‘propaganda’ that these changes are in some way detrimental to the ‘poor’ is frankly absurd. May I remind you that a lot more people are in favour of this scheme than are not.

    • Henry Hunt
      Posted 15th March, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      This is old news.

      The details of the Merton Green case was discussed during the Whitchurch Town Green report that the PROWG approved before the Ashton Vale decision came before them.

      More up to date news is that today (Thurs 15th) yet another Town Green was approved in Bristol when Grove Wood was recommended for aproval by the PROWG.

      Interesting quote from the inspector’s report provided today; “evidence which is not tested by cross-examination cannot be given the same weight as evidence that has been so tested”

      This is particularly interesting given that the council relied on evidence which was not tested by cross-examination when deciding not to register the northern part of the Ashton Vale site as a Town Green.

  17. Bob
    Posted 15th March, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Chris
    You should read your own link.
    That judgment applied to land aquired by local authorities or Ministers.
    Not applicable in this case private ownership.
    And why keep banging on about recommendation,thats all the inspector can ever do.
    The BCC paid £30000 to have a independant report,they are the registering authority they are supposed to carry out the recommendation other wise what is the point of the whole process.
    They might as well not bother with any TVG recommendation,just invent some reason to not register and just carry on building.
    Now I wonder who would do that.

  18. Chris
    Posted 15th March, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Bert,

    Wasn’t Ashton Vale LA owned until it was sold for development? Like this Merton Green place was until it was sold to Barratts.

    Anyway, I’m not saying that case was exactly the same, much as the I have no doubt the cases you are referring to are nothing like this one.

    All i’m saying is that it isn’t cut and dried, a matter of ‘right’, if you will.

    Regarding the Inspector. Are you seriously saying that a hearing, that isn’t in a court of law, where witnesses are not even under oath and the subsequent opinion on ONE person should settle the matter completely? Really?!

    The fair decision, where all factors were considered was during the planning process by elected officials.

    • Posted 15th March, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      “The fair decision, where all factors were considered was during the planning process by elected officials”

      Of course, that’s what should happen. Opinions are deeply divided over whether it really did. That’s what the Judicial Review should decide.

      Having seen the whole debacle of the PROWG Committee ‘debate’, I’d say the outcome should be a foregone conclusion.

      Meanwhile, the council seem to be doing all they can to prevent a Judicial Review. Can’t think why…..

      • Miles
        Posted 16th March, 2012 at 12:54 am | Permalink

        “Meanwhile, the council seem to be doing all they can to prevent a Judicial Review. Can’t think why…..”

        Your insinuation is that they have something to hide.

        A far more logical explanation is that the JR will be expensive for tax payers and sucks up a resource that could be utilised for something more constructive than justifying what must have been one of the most hard thought through legal decisions in the council’s history. And of course a JR has no foregone conclusion for either side and if the Council lose they have to start the process again with yet more tax payers’ money wasted.

        Why wouldn’t they be keen to put an end to the TVG’ers vexatious campaign and allow South Bristol’s economy to finally be stimulated by the promised massive capital investments? Preventing a JR would be a fantastic result for Bristol. That some of your campaigners seem to have interpreted the Council’s actions to prevent a JR as an admission of guilt arguably points to an insular and blinkered outlook that has made you oblivious to the bigger picture. Maybe this is why you can’t believe that SDR finally saw the bigger picture?

      • Ryan
        Posted 16th March, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Stockwood Pete, of course if you don’t wish to accept the decision of Bristol City Council you do have the option of going somewhere else where the council are fully in cahoot with your personal opinion.

        • Henry Hunt
          Posted 17th March, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

          Ryan,

          Likewise, if you don’t wish to accept the fact that people have the right to legal recourse via the British legal system you do have the option of going somewhere else where the legal system is fully in cahoots with your personal opinion that people should have no right to challenge decisions they feel have been made unfairly.

  19. Posted 16th March, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    ““Meanwhile, the council seem to be doing all they can to prevent a Judicial Review. Can’t think why…..”

    “Your insinuation is that they have something to hide. ”

    They may well have – but really I was insinuating that they fear they may lose!

    In any other context I would fully accept that they’re trying to avoid the expense of a JR. Here, though, there’s such a history of misrepresentation and manipulation that I take nothing for granted.

    The council’s challenge to the new applicant’s request for anonymity, in particular, seems quite unnecessary and I can only see it as a form of intimidation.

    Ryan: if and when the judge rules that the council’s Town Green decision was valid, I’ll be obliged to accept it. Meantime, I’ll believe what I saw and read about the way the way the decision was made.

    • Ryan
      Posted 16th March, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Some people will never be satisfied. If this doesn’t go your way, you’ll cry foul, pick up your ball and go home shouting and screaming.

      It’s part of the problem with this city.

      We’re held back by a small number of people who have an opinion on anything and everything, who must have a say on anything and everything, who must be right on anything and everything. I’m not sure what Bristol has done that seems to have made it become the virtual asylum capital of people who are such strong intelligence that their opinions are always right.

      It’s almost as if people that couldn’t win an argument in their own back yard decided to migrate to Bristol as if we’re some sort of asylum for those who have failed. Well, I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve had enough of it. Yourself and others (who I need not name) have simply ridden into town and started spouting off. Thanks but no thanks from me.

      • Dean Danvers
        Posted 16th March, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        “people that couldn’t win an argument in their own back yard”

        Irony alert, Ryan getting stroppy about people that couldn’t win an argument in their own back yard because……. they are winning an argument in their backyard.

  20. bobs
    Posted 16th March, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Miles – “what must have been one of the most hard thought through legal decisions in the council’s history.”

    This is very funny.

    Do you think that’s why they got an accountant to write the report and not the legal department ?

    • The Bristol Blogger
      Posted 16th March, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Technically, the report was written by a career bureaucrat – Jan Ormondroyd. The accountant just did the legal work.

      • Posted 16th March, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Shouldn’t that be leg work, BB? It didn’t look very legal.

        • Miles
          Posted 17th March, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

          I’m clearly missing something. What report are you referring to – one on which the split use decision was based? In my work I have a team of people who write reports. I give them instructions about the advice that the report should contain and I then amend and adjust the report until I’m happy to sign it. Are you seriously suggesting the report had no legal input? It’s a bit far-fetched isn’t it? This was a decision where both parties had indicated they would take further legal action against the Council if the decision went against them and you are indicating that the Council didn’t seek legal opinion? Really?

  21. bobs
    Posted 17th March, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Miles – I am saying that the report did not have legal input. It was written largely by Will Godfrey, who has no legal training at all.

    Not once before or since has a PROWG report been written by anyone outside the legal team. This one was taken off the desks of the legal team and written by people with no regard to the law.

    And the Council did seek a legal opinion. And that opinion was that they had to make all of the land TVG. So they ignored that opinion.

    Next you will be saying that it is completely normal to remove from a planning committee all those who voted against or abstained from a previous application and then make one of the remaining councillors (who voted in favour) the chair. Most people call this gerrymandering.

    • Miles
      Posted 17th March, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      “Miles – I am saying that the report did not have legal input. It was written largely by Will Godfrey, who has no legal training at all. Not once before or since has a PROWG report been written by anyone outside the legal team. This one was taken off the desks of the legal team and written by people with no regard to the law. ”

      I’ll admit to knowing nothing about the report or its weight in the ultimate decision taken. However I’ve just looked up Will Godfrey who is described on the Council’s website as overseeing Legal functions. As the buck stops with him is it really surprising that he was actively involved when the matter is so high profile with potential legal ramifications whichever decision the Council took? To assume this meant taking it off the desk of the legal team and that it had no legal input is more fantasy. The logical conclusion here is that the man with ultimate responsibility took on the task and that logically we can conclude it incorporated the best legal advice from his team. It’s another daft conspiracy theory that because he had a hand in the report he ignored legal advice.

      “And the Council did seek a legal opinion. And that opinion was that they had to make all of the land TVG. So they ignored that opinion.”

      We all know that the result of that report was widely unexpected. It is hardly surprising that following the report lots of people came forward with the required counter-evidence after realising that you guys were pulling a fast one. There was no obligation for the Council to resubmit the evidence to an inspector and if the new evidence reassured them that the land didn’t meet the legal criteria then they are quite entitled to not have to go back to an inspector.

      I can see that there is an argument that says that if the evidence was so good why not go back to the inspector and my guess is as good as yours. Legitimate explanations could include that it would be unnecessary expense and that the new evidence is so unequivocal it didn’t need a third-party opinion. With conspiracy theory hats back on, you might conclude that it was because the evidence was not robust enough and I might conclude that it was because they couldn’t be confident of an impartial response from the same inspector.

      “Next you will be saying that it is completely normal to remove from a planning committee all those who voted against or abstained from a previous application and then make one of the remaining councillors (who voted in favour) the chair. Most people call this gerrymandering.”

      Again, I’m no expert on planning processes but I do know that this was a very high profile meeting with pressure from all sides leading up to it and during it. Following one of the previous planning meetings some of the planning committee members had been bombarded with emails, a small number of which reflected very poorly on people on the pro-stadium side. And on the evening of the vote the shouting and aggression from the TVG side reflected equally poorly on your side. Behaviour on both sides demonstrated that this was a committee meeting that required experienced heads who could weigh up the arguments without being intimidated. In these circumstances I would think it quite appropriate that the committee consisted of experienced impartial individuals who were willing to put themselves through the process.

      You, I and everyone else knows that this is scrubland that would fail to meet the proposed character test for TVGs. In the case of the Ashton Vale landfill site the use of TVG legislation is purely about having a second go after losing the argument on planning permission. How many more genuine pieces of land used by communities may be lost in the future because you and others have discredited the legislation leading to an imminent change to that legislation? To cry foul over who writes reports, how often the Council should refer to an inspector and to accuse elected councillors of fixing outcomes demonstrates a lack of perspective and humility.

  22. Paul
    Posted 17th March, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Miles. The Cllrs who refused to take part were the “experienced” regular members of the South and East planning ctte. They all claimed intimidation, but this can be different things to different people and it would be wrong to lay all of this at the door of City fans. It was not. However, in such a case as this, it would have been in the interest of both sides for there to have been an investigation into their claims.

  23. Bob
    Posted 18th March, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Miles.
    Will Godfrey is a manager.
    He is a Finance expert,he is the Director of Resources.
    Where in that job description does it say he has any legal background,he is a ideal person to rubber stamp something that you don`t want scrutinised by a expert.
    His job is to make sure that his departments do their job,he is a overseer.
    He was dragged into this as a managerial name on a piece of paper.

    • Miles
      Posted 18th March, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Hi Bob. I’m happy to accept your assertion that he has no legal background. However, as you say “his job is to make sure that his departments do their job” and one of his departments is the legal department. I don’t understand why you think a report that has his name on it precludes legal input from the legal department that he’s responsible for. The simple explanation is that due to the importance of the decision this was a report that needed to be delegated upwards for sign-off.

  24. Bob
    Posted 18th March, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Miles.
    The head of legal services in the BCC is Stephen McNamara he signed of the legal content of the Agenda for PROW committee to consider.
    The wording was”reviewed by a deligated officer”it could have been the head of catering resources, it would not have mattered.
    All Will had to do was say, yes it looks alright to me away we go.
    It did not go upwards it went downwards from the Legal dept. to a deligated officer that could have been anyone.

    • Miles
      Posted 18th March, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Hi Bob, according to BCC’s website (http://www.bristol.gov.uk/node/5387) “Will Godfrey is Strategic Director of Corporate Services for Bristol City Council, overseeing the Finance, Human Resources, Shared Transactional Services, Information and Communication Technology, Integrated Customer Services (including Benefits and Council Tax), Legal and Procurement functions. ”

      You can’t just look at the Finance and Human Resources aspect, you’ve got to read the whole sentence including the bit about the Legal function. That means he’s Stephen McNamara’s boss, no?

      • Marvin
        Posted 19th March, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Indeed. Legal Services is part of Corporate Services.

        [Budget Proposals – see Legal Services within the Corporate Services directorate – https://www.bristol.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/council_and_democracy/council_budgets_and_spending/Proposals%20for%20Consultation_0.pdf

        Will Godfrey is Director of Corporate Services – see http://www.bristol.gov.uk/node/5387#jump-link-1

        Will Godfrey there is responsible for legal services – use intelligence to see that his position has responsibility for overseeing his directorate and its functions.

      • Henry Hunt
        Posted 19th March, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        “The simple explanation is that due to the importance of the decision this was a report that needed to be delegated upwards for sign-off.”

        I think that Miles is misunderstanding what is being said. The report was already signed off at the highest level within the council, by the Chief Executive, Jan Ormondroyd, who is higher up the chain then Mr Godfrey. The question that lies at the heart of this debate is whether the person writing the report itself had the necessary expertise, impartiality and qualifications to be able to make the recommendation they did. To use an analogy, the Minister of Health may be the “boss” of my local hospital but that does not make him capable of diagnosing whether a particular surgical operation is the correct procedure. Likewise if Bristol City had a 90th minute penalty to make them safe from relegation, I suspect that most fans would not want Colin Sexstone to come on to take the penalty even through, as Chairman, he is effectively the team’s boss.

        This question of competency is particularly important as in both R (Chaston) v Devon County Council and R (Enfield LBC) v Mayor of London conclusions reached by inspectors were not followed by the relevant public authority; and in both cases, it was found that the decision was unsustainable in consequence. Given this background it would seem vital that the council should take particular care in ensuring that any recommendation to reject, even in part, the inspectors recommendation should be both legally sound and untainted by any potential for partiality.

        A key requirement of any local authority such as Bristol City Council is to ensure that when they make a regulatory decision that they make that decision in an impartial manner according to the procedures adopted by the council and within the contraints of the relevant legal framework.

        In this context the Legal Department has a specific role – it includes legally qualified officers and is headed by a legally qualified individual (Mr McNamara) who cannot be removed from his post by the council, thus theoretically leaving him free of untoward influences and able to provide impartial legal advice, however unwelcome it may be, without fear of losing his position as a result. The need for this degree of freedom of action is due to the wide-ranging role of a local authority such as Bristol City Council.

        The council is not a private company, it is a public authority that has certain functions of duty and care that are not applicable to most private companies. It also has to demonstrate that both in theory and in practice, it has implemented safeguards to avoid the potential for moral hazard.

        One example of this is that the council often has a stakehold in key development projects (for example it is a key landholder in regards to the stadium project), whilst also being the local planning authority (deciding on whether the stadium project should be allowed to proceed), and is also the local commons registration authority (responsible for ensuring that Town Greens are properly registered).

        In such a situation it is therefore vital that the council not only maintains a “chinese wall” of separation between those roles, but is also seen to maintain that separation. This is why there is a legal department headed by a legally qualified expert with an unique contract of employment.

        The question is not whether Mr Godfrey is Mr McNamara’s boss, it is whether Mr Godfrey, having taken on the role of evaluating the additional post-inquiry evidence, a role that in other circumstances might have been assigned to that of a legally qualified independent inspector, had the neccessary legal understanding and freedom from untoward influence to satisfy an external examining body (such as an High Court) that he was capable of making the recommendation he did in a wholly impartial and learned manner.

        Given that Mr Godfrey has no legal training, has apparently made no site visit, appears to have interviewed no witnesses nor any representatives from either the applicants or the objectors, did not attend any of the inquiry days, and appears not to have spoken with either the independent inspector nor with the external legal advisor that has previously provided legal advice to the council, the council may well find itself in difficulties in establishing Mr Godfrey’s credentials in this matter.

        To try and claim, as Miles has done, that the council’s attempt to stop the Judicial Review continuing is based around the objective of cost prevention fails to take into account that the costs to the council involved in attempting to overturn the decision of Judge Thornton to allow the application to continue as per precedent previously set by Judge Underhill are likely to be equivalent to the costs involved in fighting the Judicial Review itself. It also fails to take into account that preventing the Judicial Review will not in itself prevent a challenge to the council regarding Grounds 1, the dispute over the registration of that part of the site that the council agreed should be registered as Town Green, as this is not governed by the same rules regarding time limits as the Judicial Review itself. Therefore preventing the Judicial Review will leave this matter unaddressed and leave the council open to separate legal challenge on this issue alone.

        • Miles
          Posted 19th March, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          Henry, many thanks for taking the time to explain that. Very interesting and informative.

          It sounds as though Mr McNamara is employed in such a manner as to allow him to point out to Mr Godfrey that there were dangers in Mr Godfrey writing the report. This independence should surely also allow Mr McNamara to whistle blow if he felt the report was inaccurate, misleading or lacked impartiality.

          Your colourful analogies require the protagonists to possess certain skills, knowledge and expertise but this report presumably required a responsible and respected individual with the ability to ask his legal team what the report should contain and to be able to explain the salient points in a manner that made it understandable to the decision makers.

          Do you think Mr McNamara disagrees with the report and if you think he does disagree, why do you think he hasn’t said so?

          Or do you think he agrees with the report and what you are challenging is in fact just a technicality and an angle to prolong the debate?

          I’m also a bit confused about the Grounds 1 comment. It reads that you think someone will challenge the Council on the registration of the part of the land that was registered as a Town Green. Surely the only person interested in pursuing such action would be the landowner? If the TVG campaigners decided to challenge it, why would such a challenge prevent the landowner building on the part of the land that was not registered as a town green?

          Thanks.

          • bert
            Posted 20th March, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

            Miles

            I can’t believe you are not aware of this. The PROWG agreed to make half the land TVG. But when it came to register the land, BCC removed a whole section from the TVG, underregistering what was promised in the PROWG meeting.

            BCC has removed from the TVG the two main entrances and the whole right of way. They have left an inaccesible island of TVG which cannot be accessed.

            It is this issue which has reunited AV in opposition to the PROWG decision. Just when it looked as if a lot of the community might accept a split, BCC go and cheat on them and force them to bring a JR just to get as TVG the land which the PROWG agreed would be TVG.

  25. Henry Hunt
    Posted 20th March, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Miles,

    Indeed Mr McNamara is employed in such a manner as to allow him to point out to Mr Godfrey any concerns regarding Mr Godfrey writing the report. In the end however, the advice that Mr McNamara offers is just that – “advice”, and there is no obligation upon the council and the officer’s concerned to take this advice, although to not do so would seem somewhat irresponsible of those concerned. Nevertheless, it has been know for this to happen. I am led to believe that the instance of the council issuing a statement declaring that the Judicial Review was over is an example of this, and, knowing the quality of the legal team employed by Bristol City Council, I do not find it credible that any member of that team would have approved such a statement if their opinion had been sought and/or followed.

    As for “whistle-blowing”, Mr McNamara’s advice to the council (and it’s officers) is covered by client confidentiality.

    “Your colourful analogies require the protagonists to possess certain skills, knowledge and expertise but this report presumably required a responsible and respected individual with the ability to ask his legal team what the report should contain and to be able to explain the salient points in a manner that made it understandable to the decision makers.”

    I think this touches upon the crux of the matter. What I imagine a judge at a judicial review might consider is why, when you already had a responsible and respected individual with the skills, knowledge and expertise required and who had a demonstrated track record over many years of explaining salient points in a manner understandable to the decision makers (and who was also legally qualified and thus able to fully understand the legal implications), why did you then replace him with a, presumably equally responsible and respected individual who, nevertheless, would be dependent on advice from others for the skills, knowledge and expertise required.

    There may well be a rational and reasonable explanation, but if so, then this was either not provided at the hearing to establish whether the judicial review should go ahead, or the judge felt that there were other grounds for concerns regarding the councils handling of the TVG decision.

    If it is the latter, this should be of some concern to those who wish the council’s decision to be upheld.

    “Do you think Mr McNamara disagrees with the report and if you think he does disagree, why do you think he hasn’t said so?”

    As already mentioned, Mr McNamara’s advice to the council is covered by client confidentiality.

    “Or do you think he agrees with the report and what you are challenging is in fact just a technicality and an angle to prolong the debate?”

    To clarify I am not challenging anything, I am offering up a possible explanation in response to what, seemed to me, to be a misunderstanding of the key issue, and am following up with a response to some questions you raise. I have no involvement or commitment to either side. If I was pushed for an opinion, I would probably agree with Mr Justice Underhill who granted leave to judicially review the PROWG decision that there seems room on a 42 acre site to find a solution but I also agree that there seems good grounds for the case to be heard. I must confess that I am also a little curious as to the behaviour of Bristol City Council regarding this matter which seems out of character for an organisation I have dealt with over a number of years.

    In reference to prolonging the debate, I assume you are referring to the continuance of the judicial review?. In this case; as stated above there seems good grounds for the judicial review to be heard. Public authorities such as Bristol City Council have very great responsibilities placed in their hands, and their decisions affect a large number of individuals, in this instance almost 500,000 residents are directly affected by Bristol City Council decisions. It is therefore important that local authorities, as well as other public bodies, are able to demonstrate that their decision-making has been conducted in a manner appropriate to the powers bestowed upon them.

    Of course when we feel this is an unneccessary delay to something we are keen should proceed, then we find it “vexatious”, but it is surprising how often we find ourselves (and I mean “we” as in the citizenry) the longer term beneficiaries of such care to ensure fair and transparent decision making. It is perhaps worth considering whether your views regarding application for judicial review might be different if the council had decided to register all the land as a TVG?

    “I’m also a bit confused about the Grounds 1 comment. It reads that you think someone will challenge the Council on the registration of the part of the land that was registered as a Town Green. Surely the only person interested in pursuing such action would be the landowner? If the TVG campaigners decided to challenge it, why would such a challenge prevent the landowner building on the part of the land that was not registered as a town green?”

    The Grounds 1 challenge does not appear to have been covered by the press as far as I can tell, which is surprising and perhaps why yourself and others seem unaware that it is part of the present judicial review challenge. In essence, the challenge contends that the council as Commons Registration Authority failed to correctly register all the land designated as a Town Green by the Public Rights of Way committee. Unfortunately for the council this seem to be a pretty straight-forward error on their part. The good news for those in favour of the stadium is that, as you correctly point out, this alone should not affect the ability to build the stadium. The bad news is that, if the judge rules in favour of the applicants on Grounds 1, it casts further doubts on the competency of the officer responsible for registering the land as a Town Green who, in this case, is also the officer responsible for writing the report recommending that only part of the site should be registered as a Town Green.

    I am unsure as to why if the error in registering the land was a genuine mistake why the council has not simply corrected this, thus avoiding embarrassment in court – I suspect that we may well find out the answer to this in the near future.

    • Miles
      Posted 20th March, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Henry, thanks again for your reply. Taking your words on face value I now understand the basis of the challenge and why the Judicial Review was allowed. It would be helpful to hear the Council’s view – there certainly seems a case to answer.

      On the general principle of it being in everyone’s interest for the decisions of the Council’s officers to be held accountable I understand the point you are making. However my frustration is only in part due to the delay caused to the stadium. The greater frustration relates to how our society seems to have misplaced our priorities. I think it’s reasonable to say that a large majority of Bristol’s 500,000 citizens would value a stadium and the economic boost it would bring over retaining the whole of the 42 acres of scrubland as a TVG rather than half of it. Pro-stadium or fence-sitter most people I talk to about the stadium share the disbelief that our country has processes like this that stall the progress that the majority want to see.

      The factors that most anti-stadium campaigners were worried about were addressed at the planning permission stage and their arguments were lost. The feeling that this TVG campaign and subsequent JR is vexatious stems from the knowledge that this application is principally just another bite of the cherry and that the land really isn’t a TVG using any description other than arguably the interpretation the Inspector chose to make of the law relating to TVGs based on the information provided to her at the hearing. Again there is a frustration that a process of luxuriating in legal intricacies prevents progress. There ought to be a common sense overlay to these matters and perhaps that’s the driver behind Defra’s proposed character test where the Ashton Vale landfill site would appear to fail both the unenclosed and open tests. So I cannot share your enthusiasm for scrutinising fair decision making on an unjust argument.

      Bert, thanks for your comments. I wasn’t aware of that. That doesn’t sound good.

  26. Martyn
    Posted 20th March, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Henry
    I think you will find that if the land was correctly registered the stadium site plan,in its current format and BCC new road proposals does not fit into the remaining land ?

    • bert
      Posted 20th March, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Martyn

      That is not correct. The PROWG resolution and maps made clear that all land to the South of the BRT would be TVG.

      All the stadium and roads start with the BRT and are to the north of the BRT.

      BCC has simply removed a chunk without any explanation. All I can think of as a reason is that they wanted to enrage the locals. If that was their reason, then it succeded.

  27. Martyn
    Posted 20th March, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Bert
    I must be a bit confused – thought field 1 was excluded due to supposed land fill use during 20 year period. Didnt field 1 have defined boundaries? and should those boundaries not of been reconised if that was the case?

    • bert
      Posted 20th March, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      It never ceases to amaze me how those opposing the TVG are happy to make comments without having seen or read any of the evidence.

      The Council have now removed their report from their website, but the press release makes clear that the BRT was supposed to mark the TVG/Stadium land boundary –

      http://www.bristol.gov.uk/press/planning-and-building-regulations/partial-registration-agreed

      The Stadium site includes most of Field 1 and much of fields 2, 3, 4 and a bit of field 5. The TVG was supposed to include all of Field 6, most of field 5 and parts of fields 1-4.

      It is true that the “reasoning” for the above was given as the landfill in field 1, but the decision does not match that reasoning.

      The actual TVG registered by BCC is significantly smaller than that approved by the PROWG, excluding both main entrances and the whole right of way, exlcuding all of the TVG land awarded from fields 1 and 2 and much of fields 3-5.

      Tony Dyer’s article for 24/7 contains links to the maps – http://www.bristol247.com/2011/10/10/tony-dyer-ashton-vale-town-green-deal-not-worth-paper-its-printed-on-23816/

      • Martyn
        Posted 20th March, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        Thanks again Bert.
        I agree with you. As the only field that was touched for landfill, was field 1, (thought this was covered by inspector’s report) how could BCC justify their actions in including any other land as being unregisterable ?

  28. Henry Hunt
    Posted 20th March, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Martyn,

    My understanding is that Bristol City Council is working on the basis that the work required to build the new road/BRT route would be covered by a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) and thus would not be threatened by the TVG application.

    As the stadium itself is bounded on the sides nearest the land registered as a TVG by the BRT route (as Bert has clarified) then the implication would be that if the BRT can proceed then so can the stadium.

    If this was somehow incorrect and the BRT (with or without the stadium) cannot go ahead if the land is registered in the way Grounds 1 states it should be, this means that the Town Green application does threaten the ability to deliver the BRT route. In such a scenario, Bristol City Council have an additional serious problem on their hands because they failed to identify the TVG application as a potential threat to the BRT scheme as required when submitting their bid for £35m of funding from the Department for Transport.

    I find it almost inconceivable that the council would make an error of this magnitude as it would imply that the council has misled central government in order to secure millions of pounds worth of public funding for a transport scheme. The decision on whether to highlight the TVG application as a potential threat to the BRT scheme would have been a decision on which it would be expected that the officers concerned would seek advice from the legal department.

    • Martyn
      Posted 20th March, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Thankyou Henry – much clearer to me now.

  29. Paul
    Posted 21st March, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    From what I remember, the BRT route was always going to be the boundary for the stadium. The cost to the council for re-routing the BRT around the stadium, was estimated to be £5 million, but the council decided that by sheer coincidence, the value of the land taken up, would also be £5 million, so there would be no cost to the stadium developer. This was obviously the prelude to the community use of facilities being worth £5 million, and the value of council land given to the developer being the exact same amount. £5 million must be there lucky number!

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