I’ve finally woken up to the very scary fact that I owe Thanet Council £23,000 and that this debt includes a cripplingly unfair 8% statutory interest rate. This large debt was imposed on me by Thanet Council to recover its legal costs for a High Court gagging injunction they took out against me in December 2014. The injunction was secured, with the approval of the then ruling Labour Cabinet at Thanet Council, to prevent me from publishing, in the public interest, confidential documents about the controversial Ramsgate Pleaurama development. The injunction is unique. Its the first time in legal history that a gagging injunction has been secured against a councillor by the council he/she was democratically elected to oversee. This unprecedented action raises some very important questions about the rights of councillors to free expression and their ability to public interest whistle-blow. But I’m digressing. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the injunction; I’ll be writing about that in more detail soon, but to tell you a story about a very surprising thing which happened to me, which wouldn’t have happened had I not been trying to deal with the injunction and the astronomic court costs.Having no savings or income apart from state benefits and a small rental from our granny annexe, Jo and I recently began searching for a cheaper home for ourselves and our 3 daughters. The idea was to free up some cash so we could pay off Thanet Council and be free of the debt and massive annual interest payments once and for all.
Last week we discovered what we thought was the answer. A large family home with a separate self–contained basement flat at 27 La Belle Alliance Square Ramsgate. The pictures and the description on the Ward and Co website were very exciting and Jo and I thought this property might be a solution to our problems. The asking price was £385,000. The property had been on the market since April so we might possibly get a deal at £360- £375k which would free up enough cash to pay off Thanet Council. It was large enough for the 5 strong Driver clan and had room for visitors to stay and the girls' mates to come and play. It also looked quite nice and homely too.
|No planning application or building control application for the flat|
|No separate council tax banding for the flat|
|picture from estate agent website of the flat|
|another picture of the flat|
|The Greens. Prominent Thanet Labour politicians. Were they prominently dishonest or prominently forgetful? What do you think?|
I also find it hard to understand why the Greens appear to have failed to register their flat for separate council tax banding and why they have therefore probably failed to pay the council tax which technically is due to Thanet Council.
As members of Thanet Council's ruling Labour Cabinet until 2015 they were responsible for ending the 6 month council tax exemption policy on empty houses and flats in the district. This means that council tax on the Green's flat was due immediately after the conversion works had been completed, which was April 2016 if not sooner. They were also responsible for developing polices to maximise council tax collection rates in the Thanet district. Its difficult for me to believe that having gained so much council tax experience and knowledge whilst they were Thanet councillors and Cabinet members, they simply forgot, or didn't realise, that they owned a flat for which they should have been paying council tax!
I will be contacting the Leader of Thanet Council to request that this matter is investigated. If the investigation reveals any wrong doing I would expect the Greens to pay in full any tax which is deemed to have been due and to secure any relevant permissions and conduct any required works to regularise their flat
Thanet Labour Party should also do the right thing and suspend from membership the Greens until investigations are carried out. If I was a member of Thanet Labour Party I would insist that the Greens were expelled from Labour membership if it is found to be the case that they unlawfully converted a flat and then sought to avoid the payment of council tax due on that flat. Surely such actions, if they are found to be true, could be seen as bringing the Labour Party into disrepute.
Latest news David Green has challenged my account of matters related to his home. I am busy with Live animal exports tonight but will reply to him tomorrow via my blogiste. It will be an interesting read.