A CARDINHAM resident has accused local authority enforcement officers of harassment after what he claims to be a series of malicious complaints were made against him.
Archie Bonker said the latest complaint to Cornwall Council was that he had removed large granite gateposts from the front of the former Cardinham Methodist Chapel listed building that he owns.
Mr Bonker has ruffled a few feathers in the village over the years with his campaigns against planning irregularities and other perceived misdemeanours.
During that time, he has suffered attacks on his property, including his car tyres being slashed. Now he says someone is making false allegations to Cornwall Council.
Mr Bonker said: "The posts are two metres tall and weigh half a ton each. They have obviously never been moved in the past 100 years. But a planning enforcement officer from Cornwall Council rushed to investigate a report that the gate posts had been removed, only to find they were still in place.'' Mr Bonker said he knew nothing about the complaint until he heard it being discussed at a Cardinham Parish Council meeting.
He said: "I was appalled that someone had made this totally untrue complaint and that Cornwall Council wasted public money investigating it, without even the courtesy of contacting me, although they told the parish council. Anyone of average eyesight and intelligence could see the complaint was a lie. The gateposts are highly visible from the adjacent public footpath, public land and public highway, and opposite the busy entrance to Cardinham School.
"Cornwall Council refuses to tell me who made this malicious and untrue complaint. Even worse, they assure me he will not have to pay what he has cost the council.''
Mr Bonker said it was not the first time he had been investigated by the local authority regarding the chapel. "Untrue allegations have been investigated six times to my knowledge. There may well be more I don't know about.''
Mr Bonker added: "This should worry everyone. It seems Cornwall Council can harass any of us, even if we are totally innocent, on the word of a lying informer, who can rely on the council to keep his identity secret – and it's all at public expense.''
A spokesman for Cornwall Council said it had a duty to follow up any reports of planning breaches, particularly when it related to the historic environment.
"As Mr Bonker states, the gate posts are visible from the road and in cases where an enforcement officer can gain the information they need by viewing the scene from the public highway, we generally have no need to engage with the landowner, unless we need to take the matter further. An officer visited the site, saw the gate posts were intact and left the scene. They then made their report and subsequently closed the case.''
The spokesman added: "Under data protection laws we are unable to release the details of the complainant, unless requested by the police as part of a continuing investigation.''