Petty builder gets revenge on councillor by putting gargoyle of him on roof
Having a statue of you built in your hometown must be an honour, right? Possibly not if it’s an unflattering gargoyle…
It turns out this is the bizarre way a builder has gone to extreme lengths to get back at a town councillor who objected to his planning request.
Michael Thomas has installed a stone gargoyle on the roof of his property in Newtown, Wiltshire, poking fun at Stewart Palmen.
Mr Thomas put up the effigy after Mr Palmen, leader of Trowbridge Town Council, objected to his plan to convert an old pizza shop into a three-floor house share.
The 71-year-old started construction work on the property in 2020 without any planning permission.
Mr Palmen reported Mr Thomas to enforcement and the builder was forced to apply for permission – but was refused.
Thinking Mr Palmen had a ‘personal vendetta’ against him, Mr Thomas decided to get his revenge.
And strangely enough, the gargoyle does look a bit like the councillor…
The statue happens to be wearing glasses and has a beard similar to his. Mr Thomas also couldn’t help but have the gargoyle stick its tongue out.
Mr Palmen said: ‘It’s just been quite amusing. He just started constructing [the house share] without any planning permission in 2020.
‘I reported him to enforcement and in the end, he applied, and it was refused along with his appeals.
‘He’s taken it quite personally and believes the council have dobbed him in.
‘He seems to have vendetta against me – but I quite like gargoyle and would love for it to stay.
‘I don’t have an issue with it but there is a serious side to it, there’s a court date on the fact he hasn’t returned the building to what it was.’
Mr Thomas ended up at the centre of legal action from Wiltshire Council after he carried on with construction work on the property even after the enforcement notice ordered him to stop.
The builder applied for planning permission but was refused in June 2022, with the council saying the project ‘detracts from the character and appearance of the area’.
In May this year, the council upheld its decision to stop construction, despite Mr Thomas appealing again.
In his anger, Mr Thomas put up a note to accompany the gargoyle.
It reads: ‘Wiltshire council invests time and energy in green field developments and long developers outside and around Trowbridge at a profit while actively hindering small building developers trying to fill a need for accommodation for those who do not qualify for the more expensive out of town accommodation.’
Mr Thomas, who said he is willing to go to prison over this issue, said: ‘They don’t follow the rules, they make them up as they go along.
‘If council officers are not following the rules, why should I?
‘I am going to carry on building against their order and allow them to take me to court.
‘I am not afraid of going to jail, I have been jailed twice before and I’m told that these days they have toilets and televisions so I don’t think that it will be a hardship.’
Mr Thomas has been ordered to attend Swindon Magistrates’ Court on October 27 to face a charge of failing to comply with an enforcement notice.
In another row between locals earlier this year, neighbours in a Suffolk village are locked in a very expensive fight over a fence.
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