Fenland Council leader suggests in phone call to businessman that questions about plastic windows “may backfire on you rather than me”

42 New Road Chatteris, a grade II listed building, owned by Peter Taylor who is fighting an oder to

42 New Road Chatteris, a grade II listed building, owned by Peter Taylor who is fighting an oder to change the windows back to wood. - Credit: Archant

Second hand furniture dealer Peter Taylor was advised by Fenland leader John Clark not to ask questions at a full council meeting since it “may backfire more on you rather than me”.

Peter Taylor is boarding up his front door and windows to finally end the planning row.

Peter Taylor is boarding up his front door and windows to finally end the planning row. - Credit: Archant

The Chatteris businessman is involved in a long running dispute over the use of plastic windows in a cottage he owns in New Road.

Mr Taylor believes he has been unfairly treated and planned to use question time at last week’s council meeting to quiz Cllr Clark about his own windows.

However shortly after telling democratic services at Fenland Hall about his proposed question, Cllr Clark was on the phone.

The first time he called he left a message on Mr Taylor’s voicemail.

Peter Taylor is boarding up his front door and windows to finally end the planning row.

Peter Taylor is boarding up his front door and windows to finally end the planning row. - Credit: Archant


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“Hello this is John Clark, leader of Fenland District Council,” he said.

“I’m told you want to ask a question at full council. I have no problem with that whatsoever but I would quite like to speak to you because I don’t think it will help your case. It could make things worse. I will try again to ring you.

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“Ultimately I have no problem whatsoever with you asking that question to council, but I think it may backfire on you rather than me.”

When Cllr Clark phoned later he was able to persuade Mr Taylor not to ask questions but to agree to a meeting with council officers.

Peter Taylor is boarding up his front door and windows to finally end the planning row.

Peter Taylor is boarding up his front door and windows to finally end the planning row. - Credit: Archant

Cllr Clark said he was not at all embarrassed that other councillors had pointed out to him that his own, grade II listed home in High Street, March, had three plastic top windows.

“I’m in the processing of changing them back to wooden ones,” he said.

“I’m holding my hands up to having the wrong windows in a listed building in a conservation area.

“I thought it a bit petty but as leader of the council what else could I do other than change them.”

Fenland District Council leader John Clark

Fenland District Council leader John Clark - Credit: Archant

Cllr Clark said he had spoken to Mr Taylor on several occasions and said having been prosecuted it was possible the council could put the windows in and put a charge on the house.

“But I thought it would be sensible to try and reach agreement,” he said.

Cllr Clark said Mr Taylor was “clutching at straws” and although he understood that the businessman felt he had been singled out the case against him had been proved.

The council leader described it as “being like the only motorist pulled over by traffic police when others too are speeding but not getting caught”.

Mr Taylor was due to meet planning chief Graham Norse today to try and resolve the issue.

He still believes, though, that Cllr Clark was “coercing me into not doing something I wanted to do.

“I wanted to say something and he was putting me off what I wanted to say.”

Mr Taylor, of New Road, Chatteris, was told by Fenland District Council he must replace four uPVC windows at his Grade II listed house with wooden ones.

He said he was also told to replace his door.

The 60-year-old has owned the home since 2009. The windows were installed six years earlier by the previous owner.

Mr Taylor complained eight months ago about two listed buildings in March – including Cllr Clark’s – with uPVC windows, but received a letter from Fenland District Council saying the windows are not a problem.

Fenland’s planning compliance officer, Bradley Gammond said: “Each case is looked at on its own merits and therefore a seemingly similar situation may have a different outcome in terms of any action taken.

“The council is always transparent about its reasons and these discussions are often open to appeal before they take effect.”

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