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Sales board in conservation area costs agent £500

Wednesday 17th August 2011
Written by Rosalind Renshaw

An agent who was ordered to pay £500 after putting up a board outside a property in what had, without his knowledge, become a conservation area has spoken out in support of the council that prosecuted him.

Eric Walker, of Bushells in London, said: “I am wholly in favour of councils having policies which clamp down on boards.

“However, I do think that the harsher penalties should be reserved for those agents who seek an unfair market advantage by flyboarding or by leaving boards up for longer than they should – and not use them on agents who commit a first, inadvertent offence.

“Having said that, I completely accept that ignorance is no defence.”

The property was in a part of London that became a conservation area last October. Hammersmith and Fulham Council advertised the fact in the London Gazette but Walker says he neither saw the notice nor received any warning of its change of status. He took the board down promptly on learning of the status of the area, and was not warned of any prosecution.

He had put up boards outside the rental property several times before and had done so this time on the instruction of the landlord.

The council had sought a fine of £2,500 plus £500 costs, he said, but after hearing him speak, the court levied a fine of £250 on Walker’s firm plus £250 costs.

To read the offender's inimitable take on the subject, use the link below.

http://bushells.com/newsarticles.php?id=21511&ncp=1

(9) Comments

Added by Anna Key on 2011-08-18 22:16:38

This case seems ridiculously harsh but in our sleepy SW villages we have one agent (a multi) that persistently ignores the conservation areas and it takes them about a week to take the boards down - it does give them an advantage on the rest of us who respect the rules. I'm not sure why they never actually get fined.....
Added by Sceptic on 2011-08-18 10:02:34

You have to laugh. Bushells blog article about banning boards was very funny and made a good point - but to get done for an offence in the same month is mad!! You couldn't make it up.

In fairness, whilst I feel the council SHOULD make sure everyone is informed, we will certainly be checking in future.
Added by Disbelief on 2011-08-18 08:49:12

Insane. Bushells is a professional agent and a well regarded competitor. Fair play for EW to address this rather than just say 'no comment' as other do when something goes wrong.
Added by tooti fruti on 2011-08-18 07:06:33

the council were obviously board, something for them to discuss in their board meeting around the board room table....yet another government stealth tax!
Added by Fun Boy Agent on 2011-08-17 12:01:42

You should have gone out looting and vandalising last week, the fine would have been lees.

And if you dameged council buildings on your rampage, the satisfaction may have been immense.

Just a joke!

Over the top council.
Added by bushells on 2011-08-17 11:47:14

Patricia - we did get a phone call on 9th may. The manager apologised and removed the board on 10th. We thought that was the end of the matter, but received a summons on 27th July advising of 3 hours of investigation and 3 hours of legal fees. You couldn't make this up!
Added by Patricia on 2011-08-17 10:49:35

What was wrong with a phone call to Bushells or a letter to warn them it was a conservation area, giving them 24 hours to remove it, particularly as this was a recent change and likely that the agent was unaware of it - it wouldnt havent earned the council a potential £2500. The very least they could have done was at least check that Bushells were on the list of agents they had informed, but of course they saw an opportunity for easy money and took it. Easy targets keep the councils' coffers topped up for their Chief Execs inflated, wholly undeserved salaries.
Added by bushells on 2011-08-17 09:42:50

I agree but they published a public notice in the London gazette. They submitted a list of agents to whom they had written but we weren't on it!! Anyway. All in the past now and I have calmed down.
Added by Ray Evans on 2011-08-17 09:08:46

.......“Having said that, I completely accept that ignorance is no defence.”........

In my view, not always. If the Council had not officially informed the agent(s) how would they know - or are we all now guilty even if not informed? If they had been informed it was not ignorance, it was knowingly breaking the law.

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