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Businessman Saqib Rasul wins cut in £7,000 fine for flouting planning law in Barton Street

By The Citizen  |  Posted: July 30, 2014

Businessman Saqib Rasul has won an appeal to reduce his £7,000 fine for breaching city council planning law

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Businessman Saqib Rasul has won a £2,600 cut in the fines imposed on him for planning offences at his Barton street grocery store and nearby Picturedrome theatre.

At Gloucester crown court Mr Rasul, 40, succeeded in an appeal against the total £7,156 fines and costs levied by magistrates after he admitted putting up illegal signs on his shop window and carrying out work at the theatre without listed building consent.

A £1,000 fine for unauthorised work at the theatre was not reduced by Judge Euan Ambrose.

During the appeal Mr Rasul claimed the city council had victimised him while turning a blind eye to similar offences committed by other traders.

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He said he did not want to allege racism but he had noticed that the council was more obliging to his white colleague in his business than to him.

And he said the council should be supporting him for taking the derelict Grade II listed former Vauxhall Inn and turning it into a going concern as the Vauxhall Mart, turning over £6-7,000 a week.

Although he had done work inside the former New OIympus Theatre which did not have consent the building - also Grade II listed - was now back in operation and being used by local schools and colleges, he said.

Alexander West, representing Gloucester city council, said Mr Rasul had been convicted of 14 offences of displaying advertising signs in the Vauxhall Mart windows without permission.

Mr West had told the court that Mr Rasul was given plenty of opportunity by council planning enforcement officers to remove the vinyl signs from his shop window but did not do so.

He said: “Mr Rasul made an unsuccessful appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against the council's enforcement notice to remove the signs.

“Mr Rasul removed all the seats from the 94 year old theatre, levelled the previously raked floor, and lifted floorboards.

“The work was harmful and detrimental to the character of the building.

“There was in the council's view a flagrant disregard for their regulatory capacity.”

Mr Rasul had been fined £250 on each of the 14 window charges - a total of £3,500. Costs orders totalling £2,550 imposed by the magistrates were not altered.

Mr Rasul told the court he believed there had been a 'personality clash' between him and the planning officer and he had been 'picked on' when other traders had no action taken against them for putting similar adverts in windows.

The Vauxhall had been 'an absolute dump' until he took it over and invested £100,000 in making it a useful business six years ago, he added.

Asked about his means to pay the fines imposed by the magistrates he said the shop was only just paying its way, he was supporting the theatre with his own money, and he was in debt to the tune of £600,000-£700,000.

“I am in no position to pay £7,000 or anything like that sort of money,” he said.

A spokesman for Gloucester City Council said: “This is a listed building in a conservation area.

“The posters were put up illegally and subsequent planning permission refused when a retrospective planning application was put in.

“A planning act inspector confirmed the council’s decision, but despite this, the posters remained in place.

“Enforcement action was then taken which resulted in the matter ultimately going to court.

“The court ruled in the city council’s favour, and the costs were recovered following that action.

“It is vitally important that our heritage sites are preserved. If one person is allowed to flout the rules, then everyone could do the same.

“Court action is the ultimate sanction and not one we take lightly.

“This lengthy process has only been as a result of the fact the Mr Rasul has ignored planning law, ignored council decisions, ignored the decision of an independent planning inspector and finally chosen to challenge the ruling of the court.”

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  • Justica  |  July 30 2014, 7:20PM

    To those who like Mr Rasul would fight planning - look at the ' slums of Southall' to see how a place can very soon look like a third world country without restrictions being enforced. WE don't want places here to look like this and Mr Rasul should abide by the rules of THIS country which are there for a very good reason and, as in the case of Southall, we don't want the exploitation that goes with it.

    |   -97
  • brackett1  |  July 30 2014, 5:33PM

    He's got a beard. And the usual pop up adverts make this article cheap and tacky. If I want to see an advert for Boots I could find it myself

    |   -3
  • TheMoanerLisa  |  July 30 2014, 1:07PM

    .....He said he did not want to allege racism but he had noticed that the council was more obliging to his white colleague in his business than to him.....this guy plays the planning rules and then plays the race card. I object more to the fact that the Citizen decided to include this statement within the article without seeking evidence that surely they are obliged to do.

    |   -31