Nothing to chauffeur it: CCTV captures luxury limos at boss' home despite ban
- Credit: ARCHANT/SUBMITTED
Furious villagers have branded a council’s enforcement efforts a “joke” after CCTV appeared to capture breaches of a court order banning a businessman from storing limos at his home.
Babergh District Council (BDC) took East Bergholt limo hire boss Philip Thompson to court in 2015.
Under the injunction served on him, which still remains in place, Mr Thompson is not allowed to cause or permit his property, at Chadacre, Whitesfield, East Bergholt, to be used for the purposes of a vehicle hire business.
The order also bans cars used for the purposes of a vehicle hire business from being parked or stored on the property or in nearby Whitesfield Road.
Now angry villagers and their district councillor have contacted BDC with a series of CCTV images, the most recent captured from May this year until mid-August.
They depict two stretched limousines - a white Ford Lincoln and a black Ford Limo - parked outside Chadacre. Both vehicles are taxed and have up-to-date MOTs.
Other CCTV stills appear to show the vehicles being transported to and from the property.
Similar cars feature in the fleet advertised on the Essex & Suffolk Limousine Hire website, which also lists Chadacre as its business address.
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Mr Thompson said the cars currently parked on his property, where he has lived for the past 28 years, are for “personal use by myself and my partner”.
He confirmed there had been contact between himself and BDC, the most recent on July 7 of this year, which was “fully complied with”.
The father-of-two also said he was intending on putting in an application to run the business from home.
“Should the council wish to discuss anything further with me regarding this matter, I am always available to do so,” he said.
He added that his GP had advised him to “avoid unnecessary stressful situations, such as being hounded by neighbours”.
One villager said they feel the council isn't taking any notice of their concerns.
“Photographic evidence has been provided but for some reason, BDC isn’t taking any notice," they added.
"The answer I constantly get is ‘we’ll look into the matter and report back to you'. This, I now class as a joke.”
BDC confirmed that the injunction, served against Mr Thompson and associated businesses, is still in force.
Despite CCTV appearing to show otherwise, a spokeswoman said Mr Thompson had moved all his stretched limousines out of the district since the council’s injunction in September 2015.
“The vehicles remaining at Mr Thompson’s property are not limousines and he claims these are predominantly for personal use," she added.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely and have written to Mr Thompson reminding him of the terms of the injunction, to act as a deterrent, whenever we believe that limousines may be being parked at his property."
John Hinton, Independent councillor for the village, criticised what he described as a lack of meaningful action on behalf of BDC.
He called on them to investigate further, rather than just write to the businessman.
“The efforts of enforcement by the council, in this case, are pretty pathetic," he claimed.
"Throughout the council, there seems to be a lackadaisical attitude to actually settling the problem."
The councillor added that he felt it was a kick in the teeth to taxpayers who are effectively paying enforcers’ salaries.
He said: “The council went to the expense of getting the evidence and putting the case together before the judge, so they should be now seeing that the law is upheld.”
BDC chiefs added that while they worked “incredibly hard” to achieve the best outcome for villagers back in 2015, the council recognises that the court has limited powers to enforce occasional breaches.
“While we share the frustration of villagers, we must also be realistic about the court’s limited powers to enforce occasional breaches and the cost of pursuing any legal action to the taxpayer," a spokeswoman added.
"We have managed to claim back almost £10,000 in legal costs in relation to this case previously, but these aren’t always recoverable.
“Should there be evidence, however, that the business is operating permanently from East Bergholt, we will not hesitate to explore further action."