Registered village greens are protected from encroachment and development. But “development” for the better enjoyment of the green for sports and pastimes is permitted.
If this tree planting was the result of a local consultation, and a planned event, why did Cllr Mike Allen wait until the last moment to object and intervene if he thought he had grounds to do so, taking the law into his own hands?
Was this really the right time and place to do it? In front of children?
It is not unusual to have trees on village greens. For example, the small registered Otterton village green is covered by mature chestnut trees. – Owl
East Devon District Councillor is accused of bullying – but vehemently denies it
Cllr Mike Allen is not a member of Honiton Town Council, but Cllr Jake Bonetta is.
They were due to attend a community event that involved primary school children planting trees at Littletown Green in Honiton.
In a statement read out at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday [ 1 March], Cllr Bonetta claimed he saw Cllr Allen ripping up bamboo shoots and displaying threatening and abusive behaviour towards council officers.
“When I turned up, I was astounded and shocked to see one of our own councillors, Mike Allen, and a member of the public, ripping prepared bamboo sticks out of the ground and throwing them to the side,” he said.
“Not only was Cllr Allen uprooting these bamboo shoots, but he was protesting against the planned works and arguing directly with council staff and myself about the plans.
“As well as this, Cllr Allen was taking photos of the situation and threatening to take further photos of the trees being planted by these children.
“As my four active DBS checks, safeguarding training and experience as a designated safeguarding lead for a not-for-profit has taught me, threatening to take unpermitted photos of kids, whether in an open and public setting or not, is a serious breach of safeguarding responsibilities – on which we have just received mandatory training by the council.”
Cllr Allen vehemently denies the accusations, insisting that he never displayed any threatening behaviour towards anyone. He claims he was calmly trying to prevent work taking place on a protected green.
“This Green was legally granted protection against the wishes of East Devon District Council about 13 years ago,” he said.
“The field had been marked out with bamboo sticks about one metre long and I picked some out and threw them onto the ground as I approached the group of three. I passed by after being told off for pulling up the canes and continued to walk away.
“Town greens must not be dug over or despoiled and have a range of legal protections that were being ignored. I had no intention of bullying anyone, I simply walked to the group and then on past carrying on my protest.
“No children were in the field, nobody was threatened, no voices were raised. Cllr Bonetta joined us later, by which time the two officers had notified their managers who had decided to call off the plantings. The schoolchildren never came near the town green.”
Cllr Allen said that he was taking pictures of digging tools in case he would need them for legal reasons, and never threatened to take pictures of children.
“I am DBS checked and would never threaten or photograph children,” he said. “My little dog Barney and I are well known and trusted by the local residents, children and parents.”
Cllr Allen also said that Cllr Bonetta’s accusations are part of a political game in the run-up to the elections.
The incident ultimately meant that the tree planting activity could not go ahead.
Upon hearing of the allegations, Cllr Paul Hayward (Independent East Devon Alliance, Yarty) called on Conservative leader Cllr Philip Skinner (Tale Vale) to remove Cllr Allen from the party.
“Withdraw the whip from Cllr Allen,” he said at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday [1 March]. “Kick him out of your party and show that you will not tolerate this sort of abhorrent member behaviour. He’s gone too far.
“You need to act and bring Cllr Allen to bear.”
Cllr Skinner will now review both versions of events before making a decision.
“I would see no reason to be withdrawing the whip and I take umbrage to other members of other parties asking me to do so until I’ve got all the facts in front of me,” he said.
“There’s always two sides to every story, so I need to understand what that is first and then we’ll see where we go from there.”
Cllr Allen is officially the only Conservative to fall foul of a standards complaint under the old regime. For bullying of Claire Wright, which of course he denies. He was also witnessed on East Devon’s Youtube facility making a bizarre rant while attempting to politicise the Verita enquiry. Behaviour which the conflicted former Monitoring Officer refused to address.
I sincerely hope Cllr Allen is not losing his grip/ Perhaps he has a Kink.