News Council £500

complaint rap A STAPLEHURST man has been awarded £500 in com- pensation

from Maidstone

Borough Council under orders by the Local Government Om- budsman.

David Phipps is also to re-

ceive a letter of apology after it repeatedly failed to follow up on his complaints about a breach of planning conditions at a neighbouring development site. The Ombudsman said the council had not followed a proper decision-making pro- cess nor communicated its deci- sions properly to the complainant. The ruling fol- lowed a decision by the council to grant planning permission for 250 homes to be built on land at Marden Road, Staple- hurst, in February 2017. Mr Phipps complained the

developers were working out- side the permitted hours, dis- turbing his amenity and privacy. MBC was approached for a comment but did not reply.

‘Change law to stop cruel hare-coursing’

RESIDENTS are being warned to be vigilant over increased reports of hare-coursing this autumn. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is stepping up its campaign to combat the illegal blood sport in which participants bet on lurchers catching terrified animals released into fields. The activity attracts illicit gam- bling and other crimes, such as criminal damage and intimida- tion.

It was outlawed by the 2004 Hunting Act and takes place without the permission of the landowner, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to land and crops. The CLA wants tailored sentences for criminal damage to property, as well as vehicle seizures and com- pensation orders. One landowner near Langley said

spring and autumn are the favoured times for hare-coursing on land around Leeds, Headcorn, Lenham

Picture: League against Cruel Sports

and Chegworth. He said: “They wreck anything in their way to get access to the field. Quite apart from the cruelty to these animals, hare- coursing enthusiasts have no regard to anyone’s property.”

President of the CLA Mark Bridgeman said: “Following harvest we always see a spike in hare cours- ing.

“Those involved in this crime are hardened criminals who will not think twice about threatening and intimidating anyone who attempts to stop them from pursuing this il- legal activity.”

A CLA member, who asked not SKIP HIRE

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to be named, said: “The police do their best, but the coursers have no respect for officers or anyone who gets in their way.

“Until the law changes, they will continue to cause extensive damage on farms, persecute the brown hare and intimidate the farming commu- nity without fear of a meaningful legal deterrent.”

Landowners and the public need to be able to recognise when they are witnessing a hare-coursing inci- dent and report it to the police either by 101 or 999 (if it is a crime in progress). l See Mike Sims’ column, page 47 01233 660 099

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