Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC) offered a number of residents of Shorncliffe Crescent (pictured below) the chance to buy small parcels of land at the end of their gardens. The Council have owned these parcels of land since April 1988, according to the Land Registry. The Council had the parcels of land valued by a qualified chartered surveyor. Prices between £180 and £680 were assigned to each parcel of land. In addition to the sale cost, the residents if they purchased the land were also asked to pay £150 towards FHDC legal fees. Of the 31 parcels of land nine have sold, each of them were previously registered on the Council’s Asset Register, where the 23 remaining parcels of land remain.
Many residents in Shorncliffe Crescent have purchased their parcel of land from the Council at the back of their gardens. Most of the parcels of land were sold on the 28/02/2018. However, it has come to light, a Mrs A of Shorncliffe Crescent, who happens to be Cllr John Colllier’s daughter decided to buy the land offered at the end of her garden. After paying the legal fees, Cllr Collier’s daughter changed her mind as we understand, as she believed the land was already hers via adverse possession and that there was no need for her to pay the amount the Council had placed on the land.
Adverse Possession is a legal principle under which a person who does not have legal title to a piece of property—usually land —acquires legal ownership based on continuous possession or occupation of the land without the permission of its legal owner
According to variety of well placed sources in the Council, Cllr Collier, who is Cabinet Member for the District Economy (pictured) attended a meeting held at his daughters house with council officers, regarding the parcel of land. At this meeting , acting as his daughter’s adviser, he failed to disclose to officers his position within the council and preceded to talk on behalf of his daughter. Cllr Collier is a Partner in a Property Development & Investment business Collridge Properties, according to his Register of Interests. He would, we suspect, have a working knowledge of land law and be well placed to bag his daughter – Mrs A – a parcel of land for free possibly. As an aside Cllr Collier was directly linked to one of the companies involved in the former White Lion Pub Cheriton, owned by APG Ltd and offshore in the British Virgin Islands.
It is known Cllr Collier had discussions with FHDC’s elected Leader Cllr David Monk to support his endeavours to possibly bank a bargain for his daughter, for free. Cllr Collier is known to have spoken to the Corporate Director for Place and Commercial John Bunnett – who is a qualified Chartered Surveyor and has a good understanding of land law – about the matter to win his support, shortly after he arrived at the Council last year, various well placed sources have said.
We understand the Head of Paid Services, Dr Susan Priest (pictured) wanted the matter drawn to a swift end. However, this has not happened and as the legal department of the Council made it clear it is not that simple. The Council’s legal team continue to expend a substantial amount of officer time on this matter. They are currently in preparation for going to mediation over the disputed land. It is necessary to do this in land disputes, prior to coming before the courts to contest ownership.
Mrs A – Cllr Collier’s daughter, acting under his advice – according to very well placed sources – believes the land is hers via adverse possession. However, the land registry title deed and plan make clear the land belongs and has belonged to the Council since April 1988.
It would appear – and this a statement of our personal opinion – that Cllr Collier is possibly trying to bank a bargain for his daughter and obtain a small piece of land for free which would have cost no more than £500. In doing so he used his Council position to influence matters, as we understand from a variety of well placed sources. No other purchaser has had such an advantage. And no other purchaser of their parcel of land, at the end of there garden in Shorncliffe Crescent, has quibbled or raised any legal issues, not one.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful