Ex-councillor under investigation over Green Belt building works

Alby Tebbutt planning investigation

Havering Council has launched an enforcement investigation into its former planning chairman Alby Tebbutt (right) over a Green Belt development project. - Credit: Archant

A former planning chairman has denied any wrongdoing after Havering Council launched an enforcement investigation into his Green Belt development project near Pages Wood. 

Alby Tebbutt, who served for 24 years on Havering Council, told the Recorder: “We are doing everything legit. If they want to serve enforcement notices on me then let them. I don’t care.

“When I tell the government minister how they’ve messed me about and taken 10 years to get to this stage, I think they will be rather embarrassed.”

Havering Council confirmed it was investigating works undertaken near Pages Wood in Upminster.

Concerns were raised by government body Forestry England.

When is the contention?

In 2017, Mr Tebbutt was granted planning permission to demolish a dilapidated property – White Bungalow, off the A127 – and build a new one.

Most Read

He told this paper: “I’m going to live there. I’m having difficulty now with stairs because I’m getting older.”

The investigation was launched after a walker contacted Forestry England about a new access road which appeared to be under construction between Mr Tebbutt’s site and a BP garage, across an entrance to Pages Wood.

Forestry England then contacted Havering Council.

A spokesperson said: “Forestry England is aware of an attempt to create an access through a section of Pages Wood to a neighbouring property.

“Forestry England has contacted the neighbour to request that he ceases to use or develop this access until evidence is provided of a right to do so. No such evidence has been provided to date.”

A new access road near Pages Wood, under investigation by Havering Council.

The investigation was launched after government body Forestry England contacted Havering Council about the construction of an access road near Pages Wood. - Credit: Archant

What Mr Tebbutt says

Mr Tebbutt told the Recorder he had purchased the land around 20 years ago and it had taken over 10 years to get planning permission.

“I’m 81,” he said. “If I don’t get it sorted out, I will be dead. They’ve put more conditions on this bungalow than on a block of flats.”

H said he had engaged “the top people” in every field – including builders, architects, environmental specialists and engineers.

“I’ve had nothing to do with it,” he said. “I’ve let them get on with it.”

He said he did not believe they had built on any land he did not own and claimed Havering Council may have mistakenly leased land to Forestry England which in fact belonged to him.

“We’ve had to stop because we’ve got solicitors checking it all out, to verify that we have got the access,” he said.

White Bungalow near Pages Wood in Upminster

Alby Tebbutt has planning permission to demolish the dilapidated White Bungalow, near Pages Wood in Upminster, and build a new home. - Credit: Archant

Who is Alby Tebbutt?

Mr Tebbutt is the director of two Romford removals companies – Wren’s and Geo. Copsey & Co.

A former Conservative councillor and UKIP activist, he has been at the centre of a string of headline-generating controversies.

“I was told by the chief of police that I was the most well-known resident and businessman in Havering,” he said.

Alby Tebbutt and Queen Elizabeth II

Alby Tebbutt meeting the Queen in Romford in 2003. - Credit: Archant

In 2004, Mr Tebbutt was censured for breaching council protocol while chairman of planning, after allegedly meeting an applicant without witnesses and then appearing to publicly endorse their proposal.

In 2005, fellow councillors accused him of “intimidating” another member and insulting their wife.

In the same year, councillors approved a motion calling for an investigation into his “extortionate” mobile phone bill, after he made calls totalling £5,602.80 during a trip to Hawaii.

The council's annual budget for councillors' phone calls at that time was £1,200.

In 2010, Mr Tebbutt was kicked out of the Conservative party for two years after being convicted of assault over a parking dispute.

In 2011, he was served with an enforcement notice after allegedly erecting a building on Green Belt land in Crow Lane without planning permission.

In 2013, he made international headlines when he told the Recorder he was going to start shooting squirrels, after one chewed through a wire and set his garage on fire.

Alby Tebbutt with his fire damaged furniture in the skip

Mr Tebbutt made headlines in 2013 when he vowed to start shooting squirrels after one chewed wire and set his garage on fire. - Credit: Archant

What the council says

In a statement issued by the council press office, Cllr Roger Ramsay said: “The council visited the site last Friday and confirmed that works have taken place on land leading from the BP garage near to Pages Wood.

“Planning permission was granted for a new residential unit on the site in 2017. But the council is now looking to check that the works started are in line with the original application.

“If the works do not comply with the planning permission granted, we will look to take the relevant enforcement action.”