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Letter: Why Are GBC Treating Me Like This?

Published on: 6 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2022

A sample of water reported by Daniel Hill to have been taken from Hodge Brook next to Stoney Castle. Image – Daniel Hill

From: Daniel Hill

Over the last nine months, I have battled with Guildford Borough Council (GBC) to try and get to the bottom of the strange oily yellow liquid which, from my observation, is leaking out of the original dump site at Stoney Castle and is feared could contain toxic waste.

The original dump site is on land which isn’t owned by my family, it is in a site that’s adjacent to ours. However, GBC has spent more time trying to discredit me rather than finding out if Pirbright residents are safe.

Despite a promise from Cllr James Steel to test the water, the best we have had is a quick visual look from the Environment Agency (EA). But again no tests or proof has been supplied that residents are safe.

When campaigning for the people responsible for dumping waste to be prosecuted, I was contacted by a group of local residents who were concerned this yellow oily liquid leaking may be toxic and leaking into Pirbright water courses through a stream called Hodge Brook.

In April, I contacted GBC to try and find out what was known about this potential toxic waste. Trying to get any information out of GBC has been impossible. Despite GBC and SCC being aware of my power of attorney (to act on my father’s behalf). Seven weeks elapsed (April 19 to June 8, 2021) and Justine Fuller, a council officer at GBC, eventually said my power of attorney wasn’t valid so refused to answer any of my questions relating to toxic waste at Stoney Castle.

It felt as if GBC was intentionally delaying discussing the issues with me which was very frustrating. But I didn’t give up: I wanted answers so I started contacting councillors to ask if they would investigate this potential environmental disaster. It was after this that GBC started turning people against me trying to create a character they thought people would hate.

The council has made a long list of accusations against me including: that the Surrey Illegal waste group is me pretending to be concerned residents; my questions about toxic waste were vexatious; my tweets were defamatory and all the untrue and; misleading comments made by Cllr Joss Bigmore in his Dragon video interview about me [insert link].

What has shocked me the most about this is GBC has refused to give me any evidence to back up their allegations.

Anyone who has dealt with the Surrey waste group knows the residents are real. And anyone who has met me knows I am always calm and polite. And anyone who has visited Stoney Castle knows there is an issue with the old dump.

I am a 39-year-old father of four, and a Buddhist who has been an environmental campaigner for 20 years.

In 2009, well-known people said good things about me.

MP Caroline Lucas, former leader of The Green Party: “Daniel has pioneered the reuse of surplus and reclaimed building materials in the UK. His determination to change the wasteful habits of the construction industry has meant he is now considered an expert in his field. This has resulted in him winning various environmental awards. We are pleased that he is based in Brighton and he gets our full support for helping to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and creating employment at the same time even in a recession.”

Theo Paphitis, from TV’s Dragonʼs Den: “Occasionally you come across businesses that are brilliantly clever through their common sense approach… Daniel has won several environmental awards and gets my vote for making a profit while benefiting communities.”

Jonathan Essex, BioRegional Development Group (before he became a SCC councillor). “Daniel is a true entrepreneur as he not only has the vision but is prepared to invest the hard work to deliver the reality.”

GBC has then used these false allegations to restrict my democratic rights.

Currently, I am not allowed to:

  • contact any GBC councillors
  • attend any GBC public meeting
  • visit council offices at Millmead
  • engage with any GBC public services
  • contact the GBC planning department to discuss my father’s recent planning application.

I have been told by a GBC councillor that this is the first time restrictions like this have been placed on anybody.

GBC has set up a private email just for me “stoneyCastle@guildford.gov.uk” this is the only way I am allowed to contact them. They occasionally respond but they never answer my questions.

On September 14 the council’s former managing director, James Whiteman, emailed all councillors warning them: “Our legal team has advised that there may be legal or other repercussions from engaging directly with Daniel Hill.”

Email from James Whiteman to Daniel Hill

I have been told there will be a review hearing on March 17, 2022 and a GBC director will decide if my restrictions will be extended, lifted or varied. Again GBC has refused to provide any evidence to back up their allegations against me.

I have also been told I’m not allowed to attend the hearing but I am allowed to submit a statement however it is difficult to prove your innocence when nobody will tell me the details of what I am supposed to have done wrong and there will be no appeal process if I disagree with the restrictions against me.

If GBC truly thinks that I pose a danger or my questions about toxic waste need to be stopped and all these restrictions are lawful and necessary, then I would ask that they follow the correct procedures and file for a court injunction. Let me have a chance to defend myself and let a judge decide if I should be stripped of my democratic rights.

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test 4 Responses to Letter: Why Are GBC Treating Me Like This?

  1. Neil Hanlon Reply

    January 7, 2022 at 10:33 am

    Absolutely classic GBC behaviour.

  2. Sue Warner Reply

    January 8, 2022 at 10:59 pm

    Does make one wonder what they are scared of.

  3. Robert Burch Reply

    January 16, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    IF the council have treated Mr Hill badly, then he can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman who can independently look into the situation:
    https://www.lgo.org.uk/how-to-complain
    Also, can Mr Hill give some context around the praise he received from the three people mentioned? What was this for and is it related to the Stoney Castle land.

    • Daniel Hill Reply

      January 18, 2022 at 10:35 am

      I’m hoping Guildford Borough Council will realise the residents of Pirbright deserve to know if the water is safe. This site next to my father’s land has been an environmental problem since the late 70s. It’s important for GBC to release the 2019 test results. GBC also need to test the water again to see if it’s safe now. They constantly attempt to shut me down. I will definitely look into the ombudsman and I am grateful for the suggestion.

      The nice quotes from Theo Paphitis were when he declared me the winner of a business award. Caroline Lucas MP and Cllr Jonathan Essex were connected with my work as an environmental campaigner years ago before the Stoney Castle drama. I’ve been involved in many projects helping homeless people, environmental campaigns, fundraising and reuse of materials to help reduce landfill.

      I’m not who my detractors say I am. My aim is to fix this problem and I will not give up.

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