Council takes pair to court over striped beach hut-style trailer

Posted On 10 Mar 2023 at 10:38 am

The beach hut trailer in Lower Rock gardens

A Brighton couple who built a striped Martha Gunn-style bathing hut on their driveway have been taken to court by the council, which wants it removed.

Paul Davis and Alison Bullough started converting the trailer outside their house in Lower Rock Gardens during the first lockdown.

However, after neighbours complained, Brighton and Hove City Council issued an enforcement notice ordering them to remove it, on the basis it is in effect an unauthorised outbuilding.

The couple appealed, but in June 2022 a planning inspector dismissed it – mainly because the wheels and support stands are bolted into timber, and it had stood in the same place since May 2020.

The trailer – which they have named Gabriel – is still being kept on the driveway, and so the council is now going to court saying the enforcement notice has been breached.

But the couple have pleaded not guilty, and will argue that it has since been modified and taken on a trip to demonstrate it is actually a caravan.

Paul plays golf with Gabriel the beach hut trailer in the background

Mr Davis said: “The enforcement order required me to remove Gabriel before 6 June. And despite disagreeing with it, I complied with this order.

“I hooked her up to my car and went on a little caravanning trip before parking her back on my forecourt. I sent photos of the vacant site to the council to prove this.

“It is clear to any reasonable person that Gabriel is not a shed. How many sheds can be hooked up to a car and taken on holiday?

“The council refuses to meet me, and I have had to let the matter go to court to force them to defend their position.

“The people of Brighton (and especially Kemp Town) love living here precisely because it is different and unconventional. The overwhelming response of both local people and visitors to Gabriel is extremely favourable.

“She has become something of a local treasure for many people in the town and beyond.”

The case was last at Brighton Magistrates Court on 28 February. The case was adjourned until the end of May.

  1. Benjamin Reply

    What a waste of time, cost and resources that could be better spent for more serious matters.

  2. Richard Reply

    What a waste of time.
    I dont believe the council will win this either.

  3. Jane Power Reply

    I love seeing this little hut. I don’t get what the problem is. Would it be allowed if it was a scruffy old campervan or caravan? Move along Brighton council.

  4. Fred Reply

    What a ridiculous waste of public money. That bathing hut/caravan brightens up the street Has the council got nothing better to do?

  5. G D Kensett Reply

    Send council inspector to the top of Wilson’s avenue . Thought the council was short of money

    • Bikes R Us Reply

      To make it council friendly, add a bike rack to it and it will immediately be allowed to stay.

      • Hendrik Reply

        Or allow travellers or migrants to occupy it.

  6. Dingo bingo Reply

    Police maybe should have a chat with him about taking a vehicle that is clearly in road worthy, on the road. Seriously dangerous, and could kill someone if one of those wooden wheels fell off. all so he can prove a point.

    • Jane Standen Bolton Reply

      If you look at the second photo of it at the golf course it seems to have standard rubber tires. I would assume the wooden ones were a gimmick to say ‘it’s got wheels, it’s not static’ but when they decided to actually move it they did what was necessary to make it road legal, including adding a back bar with number plate and lights.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Dingo bingo
      Hmm, study of the photo shows it’s on trailer wheels, has a rear light board and definitely legal 🙂 .

  7. Palon113 Reply

    Why is the council wasting money, which they supposedly don’t have, on matters such as this.

    It’s not kept on the road but on there private property and it’s hardly the worse thing you will see on the streets of Brighton. Just because a couple of NIMBYS complained!

    Leave them be and concentrate on sorting out our once great city!!!

  8. Liz Reply

    It brightens up the road, it’s kept clean and smart and looks much better than some of the mobile homes parked around the city. It’s also on the front of the property not taking up road space. So what is the problem¿

  9. Mr Andrew Camper Reply

    No wonder the council tax keeps going up and services are cut if council wasting money on legal battles and being adolf about peoples homes. Quite frankly its not an eyesore its a bit of fun. Get a life Council and cut useless jobs like jobsworth who is making issues like this.

  10. BenderTheMerciful Reply

    Find somewhere with better neighbours.

  11. BAHTAG Reply

    Several commenters above are, quite rightly, asking “Why?”.

    The sad truth is that public bodies all across England are wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers money annually on denial, cover-ups, and giving a flat ‘No’ to citizen’s legitimate challenges!

    With the NHS, the MoD, HM Treasury, and DWP probably being the worst offenders, when measured by the total number of disputes? Possibly also the Cabinet Office, given its propensity to assign fake names to public-facing staff?

    And why? This widespread obfuscation, including downright deceit (such as lying by omission, and concealing records) is ostensibly ‘To limit reputational damagel’ and/or ‘To avoid a loss of public confidence in the organisation’.

    In reality, from cases where a citizen has found sufficient resources (financial and emotional) to challenge a disputed action to an ultimate conclusion, the background seems more often than not to have been that someone in the public body made a mistake, which the body didn’t want to admit to (principally trying to avoid ’embarrassment!).

    Closely related to the above scenario is that the public body had acted (more often had failed to act!) in full accordance with provisions ‘democratically’ voted for by our Parliament – too often with the passive(?) connivance of the relevant Secretary of State!

    So how to clean-up this inexcusable Wild-West situation, in which the health and emotional well-being of hundreds of thousands of honest citizens, looking only for honesty and the whole truth, is deliberately being damaged – with the additional waste of millions of public money by the bodies concerned on ‘legal expenses’ in attempts to defend the indefensible?

    Ideally the first action of a sensible Government will be to bring back free Legal Aid, for challenges to public bodies, for every citizen with a taxable income not exceeding £150k pa?

    This will bring several benefits, such as re-invigorating a legal profession where far too many bright young graduates find that, instead of applying their significant intellectual ability to work at developing a fairer society for all of us, to just make a reasonable living by parking their noble ideals in order to assist ‘Big Business’ to avoid tax, and to avoid every other obligation that reduces the enterprise’s profits to its owner/shareholders!

    Related to the above is the clear need for Gov’t to beef-up the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) with sufficient,funding to require it to investigate every case where papers have been filed with a Court or a Tribunal relating to any form of dispute between a public body and a natural person/citizen.

    The initial purpose being to investigate the extent to which a solicitor acting for the public body has acted more in the perceived interests of the public body than in those of their professional obligation to act ‘In the best overall interests of society in general’).

    In many disputes the duty of such a solicitor will have been to advise management that amrrasonable settlement needs to be negotiated with the citizen challenger. Frequently this will involve conceding a complaint, but on the basis of ‘No liability and ‘No precent’. And any potential abuse of a public body body appearing to be ‘generous’ is easily countered by watching for the occasional repeat claim from a previoud challenger, and then examining that claim with very great rigour!

    So the best lawyers working for the public sectorm are those that reach amicable settlements of challenges. But as such issues will often include an NDA there will be no public-domain record of such successes, as there can be with the published outcomes of Court and Tribunal proceedings. so no boost to the egos of over-aggressive lawyers!

    Which is why the SRA needs powers (and funding!) to discipline such over-aggressive public-body lawyers – almost always by a fine taken from the lawyer’s salary (so not from any insuurance policy
    funded by us taxpayers!), with the potential for temporary or permanent withdrawal of the solicitor’s Certificate to Practise.

    And until the above improvements can be achieved most citizens will be well-advised to join whichever Trade Union seems to offer the broadest legal insurance to its members, in return for a subscription of perhaps less than £5 pw. And homeowners with household insurance would do well to look for policies which seem to offer the best add-on of insurance for legal expenses.

    To state the blummin’ obvious: feeling powerless to challenge a perceived injustice is really negative for the health and well-being of an aggrieved person – and all the more so when the injustice emanates from a public body which should be observing the very highest standards of ethical integrity, surely?

    So now back to Lower Rock Gardens. The initial administrative failure, which our City Council appears unwilling to own up to, is that, in granting a licence for the cross-over, from the carriageway into the front garden, no condition was imposed to restrict use to only private cars, and two- or three-wheelers, none of them being used to display advertising nor for any other trade purpose (so no vans or taxis etc)?

    In the present circumstances it looks as though BHCC should tolerate the wheeled hut as being a ‘Work of Art’ (which cannot legally be slept in overnight, nor be used to trade from)?

    In time its creators/owners will either remove it voluntarily, or it might fall into such disrepair that the Council can then use powers, other than Planning ones, to require its removal?

    So let’s hope that one or more elected Councillors will intervene, without delay, to end this wasteful bullying by BHCC?

    And ideally to negotiate an ex-gratia payment to the hut’s owners for the distress and effort which has resulted from the needless bullying by BHCC officers (with those bullying actions to date apparently not having been decided on by a majority vote of any of our Councillors in any formal open committee meeting?).
    SNAFU, yet again?

    • Tim Johnson Reply

      How do you find the time to “discover” all these conspiracies?

  12. Chris Reply

    Should be a very quick hearing and I am sure that the judge will have a view on wasting court time…
    I would question the legal advice that the council has received assuming that they took some before beginning what could be regarded as vexatious action.

  13. Sd Reply

    Good luck to this couple. Gabriel looks delightful.

    Brighton and Hove City Council are a joke that’s just not funny anymore.

  14. Looking for council job, qualified thief got own mask Reply

    People who can’t make expensive things cheap get jealous and run to the council, what problems or stress can this lovely project cause you? If its a possibility the value of your home may be affected by this don’t worry, because it will be you living in the street that will put people off buying in the area

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