Area Plans North Committee Meeting 10 February 2000


Mr Johnson                    NT6.  Withyham.  Land adjacent to Shetlands, Summersales

(Principle solicitor)          Fields.  Er, authority to carry out works, or of….


Mr Phillips                      Yes Chairman this um report which has appended to it a

(Enforcement man.)         previous report considered by APN is seeking to reaffirm authority previously given by  

                                       Council engaged in practice to undertake works in ………..…. of  on this site


                                      There are a number of reasons er why we have sought out the affirmation and that is because 

                                      primarily it has been some time since the last authority was given and you will see in 87 the   

                                      claim had been put forward by the owner Mr Hoath that the containers on the site were now 

                                      used solely for and were agriculturally justified.


                                      We needed therefore to get the county estates surveyor there in order to visit the premises, 

                                      look at these um containers and you will see that his views are very clear that there is no 

                                      agricultural justification for the containers on the land


                                      At the bottom of NT6 you will also note that the owner of the land Mr Hoath is not the 

                                      easiest of persons to get on with.  He has threatened officers and members.  He is known to  

                                      own firearms and we were therefore er required if you like to go to the Magistrates Court for 

                                      warrant and it was important that the local police were requested to, to attend.


                                      We have now received the quote er for the removal of the containers and subject obviously 

                                      to your decision today we would proceed to remove with that action albeit it would be with 

                                      caution and with…….


Interruption                    Closed session?  Yes it’s a closed session……………..can I ask where you are on the  

                                     agenda……………………….. carry …on


Mr Phillips                      Proceed I say with caution and we have been advised by the local police that they will be    

                                      prepared to attend on the day.


                                      There is one letter of update um.  Before reading it out um, I think I should draw everybody’s 

                                      attention to the fact that it has been sent to us in absolute confidence because of essentially the

                                      fear that a number of local residents have of this individual.  The notice er the letter makes  

                                      clear that the owner of the site lost his appeal in August 1998.  The last day for compliance 

                                      was Oct 1998.   The residents adjoining the property are now extremely annoyed that this is 

                                      now over 15 months from that date and no action has been taken to remove the containers 

                                     despite assurances from the Council.


                                      Since that time more containers have arrived on the site together with additional hardcore and

                                       rubbish.  With regards to the appeal decision they point out that this is within an area of 

                                      AONB.  And that er the they fail to understand why the District Council continues to delay 

                                      action and it seems to them that wishes of the residents in the area supported by the DOE 

                                      have been ignored due to the Council’s lack of resolve to stand up to one individual who 

                                      obviously feels that he is in a position …… the law.


                                      They have written on several occasions and they understand that yet another Council 

                                      committee meeting – I assume that to be this one – is due to take place shortly when we hope 

                                      that at last action will be taken to comply with the decision of the Inspector and the wishes of  

                                      local residents.  And that is signed by the the residents of three er nearby sorry four nearby 



Chairman                       Thank you.  Cllr   ?


Cllr   ?                           Um ……. this one  I think that Cllr Edwards is more o’fay…  he’s …. been shot at… 

                                      he’s in the firing line I support the officers on this.   We have got, I think we have got, all 

                                      received a registered letter.   My concern is that .... he can cause problems and I don’t know 

                                      whether we …... mainly propel ourselves into Court.  I don’t believe that we are I don’t 

                                      believe we are covered.


Chairman                       …………………………


Mr Johnson                    …….I was explaining to Cllr Edwards.  Also involved in this and had ………made to him in 

                                      correspondence with Mr Hoath.  I think if if a person like Mr Hoath tried to pick off and     

                                      intimidate individual members by threatening to take proceedings against them for decisions 

                                      made as a member of the subcommittee I think if if by any slim chance he were to dare to .. 

                                      and shelled out the money to start proceedings against that individual member.   Then I’m sure 

                                      the Council would support that individual member in defending that proceedings if it that it 

                                      concerns actions taken by the committee as a whole. 


Er He wouldn’t have any grounds to take proceedings, but if he did some spurious  decision  I say it wouldn’t be left to the individual member  to deal with himself I’m sure the Council would support it.  But the situation has never arisen um because you don’t’ run across people every day of the week there may be a few like him in the district a small group and he was here this morning with with another member of that small group they are working together on this Mr Hudson together partners in crime as it were.


As I say I don’t think there is any prospect  I wouldn’t worry if I was an individual member being threatened by Mr Hoath because as I say the Council would come to protect him …


Chairman                                       Cllr Edwards.


Cllr Edwards                  Thank you Mr Chairman.  I would like to correct one or two small points that …...  I’ve never been threatened with firearms.  I’ve have received a recorded deliver um letter last Good Friday which threatened to prosecute me for criminal conspiracy.    But that’s the only threat I’ve actually had from him.  Um.  What I would like to say is that I totally repudiate everything he says in his 27 page letter.       And I would like to express and I hope the committee would join me, my utmost confidence in Mr Johnson as a very good um solicitor and a very good servant of this Council.  I’m sure we all agree with those points


Mr Johnson                    Thank you Mr Chairman.     Very reassuring.  I assure you I that I don’t take Mr Hoath’s threats too seriously.  This isn’t the first threatening letter I’ve had from him.  This has been going on for as Cllr Edwards knows for some time.  And I I’ve been sworn at by him on site as well.  I think if the members had read the correspondence they’ll see what went on.   He’s so …. like eccentric and obviously slightly ill as well and that’s er the reason why I don’t his threats seriously.  I think  Mr Phillips would agree knowing the sort of person he is.  His reaction I think is because the officers are making some of progress in in getting to .. some success  with enforcement action.  Getting under his skin as it were.  I think where Mr Hoath thrives is he likes people to take action against him as Cripps, Harries, Hall did. And that gives him a platform to erm sort of spin out these matters as he did with Cripps, Harries, Hall.


The Council are refusing to give him that platform by taking the action been recommended.  I think it would be a mistake in this case to take Magistrates Court action against Mr Hoath because that is exactly what he wants.  He will take the Council to the High Court if the Council had the temerity to take proceedings against him.


But by taking this action in default we are putting the onus onto him to challenge it and that is what he doesn’t like.  I think that is the way it should be carried on.  But um obviously, that is not a recommendation.


Chairman                                       Cllr Mrs Wilson First.


Cllr Mr Wilson               Thank you.  Could I just ask about one point that Mr Hoath made in his 27 pages that did just catch my eye.  He said he is bankrupt and it’s not up to him to be able to remove anything from his land.  Does he have a point there?


Mr Johnson                    Er, he uses his bankruptcy when it suits him.  But he as you can see in the correspondence also disputes the bankruptcy.  His trustee in bankruptcy has never ever received a penny from him.  Cos er, He has really he carries on as he likes on his land.  He hides behind his bankruptcy when it suits him.  He tried to claim that the enforcement this enforcement action was invalid from the start because copies hadn’t been served on his trustee in bankruptcy but that only arose after he lost his appeal.  It wasn’t raised before then.  So we never treated that seriously.   His trustee in bankruptcy is aware of what is going on.  And is in just a a complicated dispute with him as as we are.   He, he really ignores his bankruptcy um most part of the time and just carries on on that site as he wishes.  And um, let’s, I can’t say too much about what goes on at the site, that is confidential even to members and doesn’t even concern this Council.  Suffice it to say there are other agencies extremely interested in what is going on on that site and er…


Cllr Wilson                     That doesn’t quite answer the question.  Has he got a point that he wouldn’t have been in a position to remove …..… if he’d wanted to, Because of his bankruptcy?


Mr Johnson                    No.   No,  he’s he has to account to his trustee for the money his estate receives.  But he can still carry on on that land as he wishes as far as um carrying on business….….. is concerned.  He really has to, he is allowed to, he is not allowed to be a director of a company but he is allowed to carry on a business to a certain extent, to receive rents and things like that etc, and to allow people to work on his land.


Cllr Wilson                     But he could dispose of potential assets for no consideration which is which is effectively what we are asking him to do?


Mr Johnson                    Um I think that if if he were co-operating with his trustee in bankruptcy as a normal bankrupt would be doing, then his trustee in bankruptcy would be wanting him to deal with this problem by taking the containers off.


Cllr Mrs Wilson          But there wouldn’t be any repercussion on him if he just decided to do it?


Mr Johnson                    No.


Chairman                       I’ve got several people still wanting to speak.  I don’t want to take too long on this – Mrs Whittle.


Cllr Mrs Whittle           I just wondered whether what he says about certain officers is in fact libellous?


Mr Johnson                    ………um……yes….


Ian Kay                          We would have to take, we would have to take, the normal  practice, we would have to take our own  separate action against that individual…… the Council ….will not act corporately on our behalf.


Mr Johnson                    He has been confidently libelling the officers for the last year or so.  But as I explained before, it would be stupid to take action against him on defamation because again that would give him the platform he wants to be able to spin this out through the Courts……


Cllr Wilson                     But I was thinking about the harm to the officers reputation…rather than merely a personal ….


Mr Johnson                    Speaking personally, I’m not worried as long as members, I mean it could be a situation that members would require me or other officers that are are libelled in correspondence to take action to defend themselves for the Council’s sake if you like.  But I still think that Mr Hoath is is such a person that that he would thrive on……


Cllr Mrs                         It would do more harm than good?


Mr Johnson                    He would love to defend himself …..he enjoyed himself no end on that.     He didn’t emerge from the proceedings very well if you read the full transcript but he still won his case and that’s given him the spur to try and sort of get proceedings going involving the Council and give him another few years entertainment.  That’s the way I see it anyway.


Chairman                       Right I’ve still got several …um…..…want to speak….items they want to discuss Cllr ….Neville.


Cllr Neville                     Thank you . … see no harm serving notice on this trustee, the trustee in bankruptcy is actually just as fed up as we are and perhaps that would solve that loophole.


Mr Johnson                    Yes, it’s a bit late to serve notice on them, what I was thinking, as as I was um talking about that with you, I was thinking that I would write to the trustee in bankruptcy to let them know what is going on.    We are in contact with them on the phone.  We were checking with them the other day as to whether they have actually ever received any money from Mr Hoath’s estate and in fact they haven’t.  In seven or eight years of the bankruptcy… over in Gloucester….   We will let them know what is going on and get their formal views.  I’m sure they will supporting us.


Chairman                                  Cllr ……?


Cllr ?                              Mr Chairman, I would like to join with the first two speakers who sympathise with the officers on all the work they have had to do on this……but I do want to take up the points made by Cllr Neville and just before that by Cllrs Mrs Wilson.  According to my references the trustee has a very strong position, is entitled to sell property and could long ago have taken this action to recover……Cripps, Harries Hall debt ….  but has chosen not to do so.


                                      I don’t see how we would be er playing to um this fellow whatever it is name is is vanity by going to the trustees or trustee rather and asking that he take action in this matter.  There does seem …that was one point in a very wild letter, letters, which we have all had which did come across, that seemed to have some validity.  That er the trustee should have a standing here.  His standing could provide for.. and therefore we have er, in failing to go to the trustee we have left a gap and I, I do earnestly suggest we should close this before we proceed to any enforcement.


Chairman                       Cllr Brown.


Cllr Brown                     Mr Chairman.  Yes I was going to make that same point myself…….and we have a proper ………and the other letter….with a reference to seeking ….from councillors personally…   Another thing that puzzled me think it very unfair that Mr Johnson’s he’s an undeclared, un-discharged bankrupt so presumably has no means.  So how does he live.  And where would he get all the money for us to pay out…..       I would like to propose that this is deferred and we have a proper written answer to these allegations being made. 


I think it very unfair that Mr Johnson is being penalised and others have been libelled …..that they are being dishonest.  Should be defended by the Council, …or defend themselves…. it will leave everything up in the air if we don’t do anything at all.


Chairman                       So what do you propose


Cllr Brown                     I propose that this be deferred here and now and we have a proper legal……………


Mr Johnson                    Do you want… are you asking us to go to the trustee in bankruptcy with a letter asking exactly what the position is.   I think the position is, from my experience talking to the trustee in bankruptcy is that the case is at the bottom of his pile and he is quite happy to leave it there, because of the difficulties in dealing with Mr Hoath. 


Cllr Brown                     That’s not our problem……..


Mr Johnson                    I don’t think there is going to be any movement there…… sort of ….  A trustee concentrates on the matters in which he can make some progress and he is quite happy to leave Mr Hoath’s case at the bottom of the pile.


Cllr Brown                     But that’s not fair on you or …


Mr Johnson                    Well…….


Chairman                       I don’t want to prolong this much further.  I’ve still got several speakers…….Cllr Ryde.


Cllr Ryde                       Yes, thank you Mr Chairman.  Mr Phillips said that he quotations for the skip…… because, because I think this is relevant to recovery.  The Council has a duty to try to recover.  You are not going to recover from Mr Hoath or whatever his name is, surely you have got to recover from the trustee in bankruptcy, surely you want to recover from if there is any chance at all of costs  ……


Mr Phillips                      I can share some light there.  In respect of trustees in bankruptcy many times they don’t see these cases as a priority but er for whatever reason if they were going to take action I think they would have years ago.  The problem is that we have residents affected and residents writing in.


                                      The quotes that we have um are based on an average of eight containers on the site, which is about the number that were there yesterday at about midday.  We have been quoted £135 for removal of each container and the company that we will be likely subject to today’s decision, to put the job with, have also indicated that after the three days which we are honour bound to store any materials removed from the site, after which time we can dispose of them, and use any receipts to offset our costs, the company is indicated that they would pay us of the order of £350 per container.  Which might actually mean that we could end up with a first in this in so far as that we might actually be delivering a cheque to Mr Hoath for buttons.  (MUCH LAUGHTER) That would actually be the first one that I am aware of where we have actually recovered more that more money than the job’s cost.  It’s not a great amount of money compared to the number of letters …..


Chairman                                      Cllr Mrs Tidy.


Cllr Mrs Tidy                 Thank you Chairman.  I think that it is imperative that we get on and do this……..  One question I would like to ask, is that if Mr Hoath carries out his threat to um carry round on a trailer ….. a placard damning this council as a whole and all its members, can we then take action because he damning not just a member or an officer but he is damning the whole of the council and its members…..


Mr Johnson                    Well he did threa… he did phone me up to invite me to the unveiling ceremony and he said that that Mr Hudson would be there and er I terminated the conversation quickly.  Er, and (does that mean you put the phone down)  and I asked people to look out for a trailer… Nobody saw one.  I ‘m sure I would have …… if there had been a sign all around Crowborough as he was threatening to do.   I think it’s just another of his threats but er, I mean if it had been carried out obviously the Council would want to take action, but the problem is Harries Hall had the same problem as when they took action, a self help action which wasn’t very wise in the circumstances.     And I say it was all part of his goading policy but er as I say he did actually say that it was being unveiled on a particular day………hopefully….


Chairman ?                                    Cllr  (?)  is there something that you want to say?


Cllr (?)                                         Er yes I would like to move for the recommendation .


Chairman                                      Have you got a seconder.


Chairman                                      Cllr  Brown.                                        


Cllr ?                              If that’s the position Chairman, please make a note in the minutes that I didn’t vote.


Chairman                                      Will do.  Cllr Mrs ? 


Cllr Mrs                         Could I just ask one more question.  Once these containers are removed, his trustee in bankruptcy received a ….. cheque, what is there, or what is the chances of him not bringing new containers ……is there any thing we can do to prevent that?


Mr Phillips                      I think there is every opportunity, or every chance rather that he will seek to create more mischief.  If he brings more containers back they are covered by exactly the same notice that we are acting under now.


Cllr Mrs                         Right so it would go through the whole process ……


Mr Phillips                      Exactly.  If he were hell bent on creating mischief which he has shown ..….for …. bringing houseboats to the site, then we would have serve a different notice or pursue an injunction.


Cllr ?                              Chairman.  Just one other thing I did notice today that when Mr Hudson was here, he did passed the Press a whole swatch of documents which they perused for about half an hour then handed back to him………… …….what might be in the press this weekend.


Chairman                       Right, its been moved and seconded for action to be taken…….those in favour……  Any against?  ……..


Cllr ?                              Sorry, no I feel very strongly that we are unwise to take this step without first going through the trustee in bankruptcy as I suggested that….  I was going to propose that as a motion.


Mr Johnson                    I’ll be writing to the trustee in bankruptcy in any case.  


Cllr ?                              Do we know who is the trustee in bankruptcy is …..


Mr Johnson                    Price, Waterhouse solicitors and ………a branch of ………...  When he told me that he was unveiling a trailer sign er attacking me …………..there was another trailer er attacking Price Waterhouse under the ……. the same…….er …. I felt that …..


Cllr                                Mr Chairman, there does seem to be some misunderstanding about what our last motion was on  ……. whether it was that we should go to the trustee in bankruptcy first or we should take immediate action …….


Chairman                       The last motion was the officer recommendation


Cllr ?                              Well Surely, we should take the, any vote other than that before we take the officer recommendation …..


Mr Johnson                    I will in any event write to the trustee in bankruptcy tomorrow and also try to contact him on 

                                      the telephone tomorrow to tell him exactly what is going on.   So, if there is any problem then 

                                      er the action will not be taken.  But er, you can be assured that if the trustee in bankruptcy 

                                      objects and  says that he doesn’t want it to be done, then it won’t be.  I can’t imagine that that 

                                      will be the case, but I will be contacting him tomorrow and writing to him ……….. give that 

                                      assurance to members.


Cllr ?                              That’s fine Mr Chairman, then can we please make sure that that is recorded in the minutes. 







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