You may remember Kirit Ved's listed building problems in Stoke Newington (Convenience Store, September 17). Essentially, the previous owner put a not-allowed front on the building and the council demanded that Kirit (who has run Ved's News for the past 27 years) puts it right.
They took him, as threatened, to court. He was expecting a fine of between £5-20k and says he was very lucky that the two magistrates took his personal circumstances and financial position into consideration. Still, he was fined £2,400, reduced to £1,400 plus £700 costs.
Solicitors and barristers cost him another £3,500, so all told the bill has reached £6,000 so far. And he still has to put the shop front back to the approved timber/brickwork and have it done by Christmas.
Halifax gave him a £15K loan on his mortgage and he set about trying to find a builder. "Recession? What recession?" he asks.
From an original 20 firms, it's down to one which has expressed an interest (price £15K, take it or leave it). He's willing to take it, but now the company is uhmming and aahing over whether it can start in time.
Kirit is going to ask his architect (£125 per hour) to approach the council to ask either for an extension or to see whether they can organise the work for him. He doesn't want to approach them himself because he argued with them and feels he has a black mark already. Oh, and he now has a criminal record that will last four years.
I hope the coalition knows what it's doing giving councils more power. Fair? Not by any stretch. It's not even important the building has lasted as it is for the past 27 years, so it's only important in someone's important filing cabinet.
Meanwhile, does anyone know of some reliable builders?