Angry farmer is ordered to remove lighting poles

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A PENSIONER farmer has been rapped by a judge for defying council orders to remove street lights near his home in Stanton-by-Dale.

A court was told the columns are still in place, even though Mornington Webster lost an appeal against Erewash Borough Council which said they had to be removed from Barnwood Farm in Dale Road.

“You have been obstructive, slow and unwilling to react to the enforcement notice,” said District Judge Caroline Goulborn, sitting at Derby Magistrates’ Court. “The lighting columns are still in existence. They are ugly in a green belt area.”

A £2,000 fine, £250 council costs and a £15 government surcharge were imposed on Webster, 68. He pleaded guilty to failing to obey an enforcement notice between June 3 and August 11 last year.

The council served it on him on July 28, 2010, but this was suspended while the appeal was lodged.

Raf Ali, for the council, said action was initially taken against three breaches of the Town and Country Planning Act with the ‘unauthorised construction’ of vehicle tracks, the lighting columns and hard standing.

Webster lodged an appeal against the council’s ruling and an independent inspector allowed the vehicle tracks to remain when he came back with a verdict on June 3 last year.

“The appeal decision did not allow the unauthorised hard standing and lights, whereas the vehicle tracks were something which was allowed by the inspector,” said Mr Ali.

The farmer was then given eight weeks to remove the hard standing and lighting columns, added Mr Ali. Light bulbs have been removed but the columns are still in place.

Jenny Wigley, for Webster, said he now plans to erect a cattle shed which will use most of the hard standing as its floor.

She said the lights had been fitted to shine downwards but he is now planning alternative means of illumination to help with security.

Miss Wigley said Webster had no previous convictions and told the court: “He is not trying to be obstructive. He has always sought to apply planning law.

“He feels somewhat frustrated and oppressed by the council. His planning application was refused and he has had to go to appeal to get consent. He has tried to resolve the situation and has planning consent for a building so the hard standing will not be seen.

“There was some confusion in his mind.”

After the case, Ian Sankey, director for resources, said: “Erewash Borough Council, as with any local authority, takes its role in enforcing planning regulations very seriously and this case clearly demonstrates our commitment to take any necessary action when those regulations have been breached.

“Enforcement action was necessary in this case particularly when, despite warnings, Mr Webster failed to take action to remedy the situation. We welcome the decision by the district judge.”

Outside court, Webster said: “The council has been absolutely disgusting.”