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Letter: We Should Work Together to Resolve the Stoney Castle Dump Problem

Published on: 27 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 27 Jul, 2021

From: Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill has power of attorney for his ex-pat father, Robin Hill, who owns the Stoney Castle dump site.

I am writing this letter in response to Mark Bray-Parry – Council Must Communicate to Maintain Public’s Trust, but it also intended as an olive branch to Cllr Keith Witham, Jonathan Lord MP, GBC Leader Joss Bigmore and GBC MD James Whiteman.

It is deeply concerning that GBC are choosing to disregard respected individuals like Mark Bray-Parry and cease communication with them but this is GBC’s standard behaviour which I have experienced for years. Common sense has gone out the window and communication has now completely broken down.

In September 2020 my father, asked what plans GBC had. He wrote: “So Guildford Council have set aside £120,000 in the 2020-2021 budget for enforcement action at my site. This money was approved in November 2019 but it doesn’t look like you’ve done much so far. So what’s the plan”

I tried offering my help in January 2021. I contacted GBC offering to try and evict the occupiers with an application. I explained I couldn’t afford a solicitor to handle it but as a last resort I was happy to act for myself and try to minimise costs for GBC.

I wrote: “I haven’t been involved with the site since December 2017 so I have no idea of who is occupying the site and what activities they are undertaking.

“Could someone from Guildford Council, Surrey County Council, Environment Agency, Pirbright Parish council and Surrey Police write a short statement outlining the names of the people who are occupying the site, how long have they been there and what actives are they undertaking. I will include this with my application and hopefully, it will be enough for a judge to grant the order I need.”

Unfortunately, everyone and every agency refused to write a statement to help me evict the occupiers. Looking back it now seems unbelievable that GBC would rather waste £120,000 rather than work with me.

A solicitor at GBC said: We note your stated intention to make an application under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 on behalf of your father. The council is unable to share personal information with you about those occupying the site or offer you any advice about this process.

A few months pass and despite requests for further updates on when action may start to take effect, GBC and SCC gave me nothing but radio silence.

Finally, in early June 21 – GBC contacted my father proposing direct action.

On June 7 my father responded: “Your email has made my day, finally action is being taken to stop this mess. Honestly [name redacted] I think the council taking direct action to clear the site is a brilliant idea. I’m actually grateful for your help I was a bit worried you would need to prosecute the occupiers first which would take ages.

“I don’t know if you normally need a court order for this but if it speeds things up I’m happy to give the council permission to come in and clear all the occupiers’ stuff. These people who have stolen my land and destroyed it should be 100% responsible and pay up. In my opinion, they will be getting off lightly with a £120,000 bill for clearing all their crap.”

My message now to all councillors at GBC, Conservative, Labour, Lib Dems, Green Party, GGG and R4GV is the same as it has been for four years; my intention was in the beginning, and has remained, to help. I am still able to do that.

This is a difficult situation at Stoney Castle but the way to resolve the issues is not to be at war with each other but to work together. Working together to fix this with the least expense to the taxpayer and quickest solution should be the common goal.

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