Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A Welshman's home is his castle, and a last chance for Dr Gibbons to prove some worth

"et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium"

The Western Mail reports that a 76-YEAR-OLD man has been on hunger strike at the doors of the National Assembly for 15 days and vows to remain until he wins an inquiry into his planning dispute.

This is the latest protest by Iorwerth Jones, from Llandovery, who was found not guilty of causing £30,000 of damage to council offices in Llandeilo during a rooftop protest in 2007.

He has been locked in conflict with the council since 1979 when a lorry park was sited near the home he was building. This has been replaced with a pet food factory and he claims his house has been devalued.

Carmarthenshire County Council said it was “beyond belief” last year when a jury at Swansea Crown Court found him not guilty of breaking roof tiles with a hammer.

He met Jane Davidson, Assembly Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing, last week but was not satisfied with her response.

Mr Jones said: “I had an hour with her. It seems she is trying to push it aside.”
“I want an inquiry. I want the truth to come out. As long as she keeps on saying she is not going to do anything I’ll be here.”

A spokesman for the minister said: “Ms Davidson met Mr Jones with his constituency AM Mr Rhodri Glyn Thomas and Welsh Assembly Government officials out of concern for his health. During the meeting Ms Davidson listened to Mr Jones’s issues but made it clear that her statutory role in the planning process meant she could not intervene in an individual planning issue.

“Ms Davidson’s private office staff continue to discuss Mr Jones’ health and welfare with officials from the National Assembly for Wales (very noble but impractical - why not send in the resident GP), who are responsible for the T Hywel building where Mr Jones is protesting.”

The Assembly Government argues no evidence so far suggests the local planning authority acted in such a way to justify an inquiry.

The Assembly Government can hold a public inquiry into a planning issue if it believes the original decision was “grossly wrong” and the public interest is at stake.

Mr Jones’s case has been referred to the local government ombudsman on four separate occasions but a basis for an investigation has never been found. However, Mr Jones is adamant he suffered an injustice.

Chris Burns, assistant chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council, said: “All his complaints have been dealt with in the proper manner and in line with the appropriate rules and regulations.

“The council’s offer to purchase his property was flatly rejected by Mr Jones.”

Let's hope that his health doesn't take a turn for the worse and that he's given a proper meal in the heavily subsidised staff restaurant. One thing's for sure, he's in the wrong place for snacks.

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