Williams protected mason James Blackburn. He said as he did not think the rest of the Hetton-le-Hole Town Councillors would say what they had seen of the assault on me, he was not going to take any action on the matter.
The Superintendent, 16A The Lyons,
Area Command, Hetton-le-Hole,
Washington Police Station, Tyne-Wear, DH5 OHT.
October 19 1995.
I wish to report to you the following, and request your help with the matter that I report. I summarise events prior to what I believe is common assault upon me by three Town Councillors who sit upon Hetton Town Council. I am a new member of this Town Council.
A few years ago I became aware that an Easington Lane Councillor owned an area of land at Easington Lane. This stretches to some several acres. I became aware of the ownership after a statement was made to me by the father of the Councillor after I had complained to him about things that had been done when my wife opened a small business. Around that time Mr S. Blackburn made a statement to me about the possibility of his son becoming a "very rich man" if he could obtain planning permission for land that he owned. We had objected to housing development near to the area where the his son, Councillor James Blackburn, owns the land. Our objection to a planning application by the nearby owner of land was upheld, and the reason that I gave for the objection was printed in the local press.
I joined the local Labour Party shortly after this time. Relations with the Blackburn family have been strained since that time. My opposition to Freemasonry became the subject of some heated discussions at the Local Labour Party meetings. I had became aware of membership of the Masonic movement by James Blackburn. I also had reason to believe that Mr Clem Simpson might also be a member of the Freemasons. Later, James Blackburn confirmed his membership of the Freemasons at a meeting of the Local Labour Party. Councillor Clem Simpson told me a few months ago that he had been a member of the Freemasons but was no longer a member of them. I am aware that being a member of the Freemasons is not unlawful, but I am also aware that some members of the Freemasons do not like being exposed to the public as being members of that movement.
Mr Clem Simpson's wife, daughter of Councillors Samuel and Joyce Blackburn, was nominated and seconded to be another member of the family to become a Councillor after a vacancy arose for a new member of the Council for the Easington Lane Ward. I expressed my concern to a number of people about the possibility of Easington Lane having five out of the six of its Ward Councillors all being members of the same family. Samuel Blackburn the father of the Councillor who owns the land, who, along with his wife, Joyce and his Son in Law Mr Clem Simpson all sit upon the Hetton Town Council and represent the Easington Lane Ward. Some days before the Council Election nominations were due to close this year I received a telephone call from Councillor James Blackburn of 55 Lillywhite Terrace, Easington Lane. He asked if I would have an interest in becoming a Town Councillor. Given the situation that exists I told him that I did have an interest in it.
On the evening before nominations were due to close I received another telephone call at around nine twenty pm. I was asked again if I was interested in becoming a Councillor. Again I confirmed my interest. I was told that someone would call upon me later that evening. At around ten twenty five pm the Secretary of the Local Labour Party, David Tate, called at my home. I had been nominated and seconded by Councillors Samuel and Joyce Blackburn to be a Councillor for the Ward. Their daughter had withdrawn her interest in becoming a Ward Councillor. The seat was not contested as had been believed, and I became a new member of the Council representing the Easington Lane Ward.
In the course of Council duties I examined the new Unitary Development Plan for the City of Sunderland. I became aware of some large area's of land at Easington Lane which have came under proposed housing development. I was unaware of any declared interest in one area of the proposed housing development land which I firmly believed was owned by Councillor James Blackburn. I wrote and distributed the letter of which a copy I enclose to all members of the Hetton Town Council. Though there was obvious concern by some Councillors that I should distribute this letter at the Town Council meeting of October 2 1995, I was not deterred because of my concern at what had taken place. I raised objections and forced a special meeting to discuss the Unitary Development Plan. This meeting took place on the evening of Thursday October 12 1995. It was myself who also forced a proposed Public Meeting at the Hetton Lyons School which was planned to take place after the Council meeting on the UDP Plan. I was very concerned when it was apparent that Public representation on the Plan would close on Monday October 16 1995. I expressed my concern but there was no action to attempt to hold a Public meeting before the representation date expired.
Before this meeting of the Council commenced, I indicated to Councillor James Blackburn that it was my intention to hand out a letter regarding my concerns about the housing proposals to all members at that meeting. He became very agitated and said that I could do nothing about the housing as it had already been decided
upon. He said that should I act outside of the Group then I would be ejected from it for disobeying the rules. I argued back that I would not remain silent at what was taking place. I approached the Sunderland Echo reporter Mr Horn with some of my concerns about what was taking place. I begged him to have some thing placed in the newspaper about the very extensive proposals at Easington Lane when I became aware that most of the Easington Lane community were unaware of the proposals. I believe that those who were aware of housing proposals thought that they related to redevelopment of the Forrest Estate, or Cosy Estate.There was nothing reported in the newspaper. I think it possible that two rows that I had with Mr Horn over the years about wrong information that was published about me in the Echo did not help my situation.
When I arrived at the Hetton Town Council Chambers on the evening of Thursday October 12 Mr James Blackburn was already present. While we waited for other Councillors to arrive, he asked me if I owned my own home. I replied that I did. Councillor Chris Nairns was present when the question was asked. I made a remark to himabout the question that James Blackburn had asked me. At that time I was puzzled by Mr Blackburns question to me. He declined to give me his reason for asking the question.
During the Special Meeting of the Council that evening Mr Horn and a member of the public were present. I became aware that there was still no declaration of any interest by any of the Easington Lane Ward Councillors with reference to the area of land which is included in the housing proposals for Easington Lane. Councillor Clem Simpson spoke in support of the housing proposals. Councillor Joyce Blackburn also spoke in support of the housing proposals. I was very concerned as it became very apparent that the Blackburn family would not raise any concerns about the development, as it would not be beneficial to Councillor James Blackburn. I was further concerned when I became aware that other Councillors showed no concern over the housing proposals for Easington Lane. I was satisfied that they also knew that it was not likely that the Blackburns, including Councillor Clem Simpson were unlikely to express any concerns on the UDP Plan relative to the housing proposals. The only other Easington Lane Ward Councillor Mr A. Maddison was not present at that meeting.Out of my concern at what was taking place, I made the statement in the full Council meeting that I believed that it was unlikely, because of possible interests by some fellow Easington Lane Councillors, that they might not agree with my observations and that in effect I was a lone voice on my objections to some aspects of the proposed housing development land, should the plan be approved, and implemented. I had already decided that the area of the proposed housing development had very serious flaws. I have expressed these views in a comprehensive objection to the
Sunderland Planning Authority.Councillor Clem Simpson immediately rose to his feet and called for the meeting to come to a close and asked that the press and public should be asked to leave. The meeting carried on when I made no further mention of interests.
As the meeting was closing, Councillor Clem Simpson, asked the Chairman to allow the Councillors present to remain after the press and public had left. This was allowed.
Immediately Mr Horn and the member of the public left, Councillor Clem Simpson commenced to shout at me expressing his concern at the statement that I had made about possible interests. It was said that I had acted outside of the rules when I had made the statement regarding interests. Councillor J. Steel decided that this meeting was out of order and said he was leaving. I told him that I was also leaving the meeting.When I made my way to the exit door from the Council Chambers Councillor James Blackburn blocked my way and commenced to shout abuse and bad language at me. He pushed me back from the door. He made the statement that he now knew I owned my house and something to the effect that damages for what I had said would be involved. As he did this his parents Councillors Samuel and Joyce Blackburn then came to me and also commenced to shout abuse at me. They commenced also to pushed, and prod me. Councillor Samuel Blackburn took hold of my jacket. I warned them twice that they were assaulting me. On my third warning to them I said that I would make a complaint to the Police should they continue to push me and prevent me from leaving the Council Chambers. I became aware that Councillor James Blackburn was setting himself to punch me. I saw the Labour Group Chairman Councillor George Wandless take hold of Councillor James Blackburn and attempt to push him away from me. He managed to push him away into the corridor leading to the Chambers. During this time other Councillors were hurrying away.
When I was eventually able to get out of the Council Chambers into the rear car park, the Blackburns continued to shout abuse at me. They told me that I had a very bad reputation and that I was a "soft bugger". James Blackburn repeated again a statement that he had made while we were in the Council Chambers which was that they had done me a favour by enabling me to become a Councillor. He said that they did not want me in the Council, andnor did the "others". He also said that they did not want me in the Local Labour Party either. I was called various names and I was very aware that their attempt to provoke me was continuing when they said that I was a "soft bugger", and "shit". I had been called this latter name by Councillor James Blackburn while we were in the Council Chambers. He had placed his face close to mine and yelled this name at me twice while we were in the Chambers. I did not want to be left alone in the car park and it was apparent that almost everyone else had left. I returned to my home.
When it became apparent at the Town Council Meeting of Monday October 16 that the Chairman regarded the incident as closed, I attempted to have the matter more fully discussed. He said that I had been given a book of rules when I became a Councillor and implied that I should not have brought up the subject of interests of Council members during the meeting of the full Council. I was aware of rules binding me to secrecy about discussions that take place during "Group Meetings" which take place before the full Council Meeting. Councillor Wandless expressed his concern at the none declaration of interests and made statements to the Blackburn family about it. He then inquired to Councillor James Blackburn that he believed that he had now declared an interest. I did not hear the reply to this question, but I was aware that no interests had been disclosed in the Council Meetings where interests have to be declared for the benefit of disclosure to the public. I do not regard interests as declared unless they were declarations to the public.Councillor Wandless told me that if I wished to continue with the matter then I must do so outside of the Council.I visited H.M Durham District Land Registry to obtain proof of title to the land in question. Confirmation was given by them of the owner of the land as Councillor James Blackburn and his title number which was TY143607. I read out Councillor James Blackburn's Land Registry Title number of his land and, confirmed to the "Group Meeting" prior to the meeting of the full Council last Monday that this land was included within the housing proposals. I also became aware that the statement that I had made regarding possible interests of some Easington Lane Councillors during the Special Meeting of Thursday October 12 had not been included in the minutes of that meeting.
As I had become aware that there was to be no action taken against the Councillors involved, upon further thought I decided to report the matter to the police. I thought that as the subject did contain my statement about Freemasonry I would only feel reasonably confident by speaking to Detective Constable Storey who was stationed at Houghton-le-Spring. I had discussed with him previously my concerns of Freemasonry especially of membership of it by police officers. I learned from Houghton Police that D.C. Storey had been promoted to Sergeant and was now stationed at Southwick. I telephoned the Southwick CID office on Tuesday morning and learned that D.C Storey was now a uniformed Sergeant and could not act outside of his immediate area of concern.
In a long conversation with the person who I believe was a CID officer he suggested that I direct my complaint to the Superintendent. It was said that there is a "grey area" about the declaration of interests in respect of Council Members. It was said that unless there was some financial gain obtained arising out of none declaration of interests then it would be purely a matter for Council disciplinary procedures. There is little doubt that should the housing proposals for Easington Lane be approved, then the value of the area of land which is owned by Councillor James Blackburn will rise very substantially and as Councillor Samuel Blackburn had said to me some years ago, his son would become a very rich man.I am not too concerned about who becomes rich, but I am concerned at the circumstances of how it is being possibly obtained to the probable detriment of the people of Easington Lane who I firmly believe would suffer greatly should the housing proposals be approved and implemented.
There is an attempt by some Councillors to regard the affair that I report as a private matter between Councillor James Blackburn and myself. I am extremely concerned at this due to my action in being able to identify the area of land concerned as being owned by Councillor James Blackburn, and that it is included in the area of land for housing proposals. I would suggest that my statement that Councillor James Blackburn is a member of the Freemasons had the effect of making some other fellow Councillors fear possible consequences arising if they should come to my help in whatever way that they could. I can confirm a general fear as to the power of the Freemason movement. Though again I do not imply that membership of Freemasonry is a relevant matter in the affair, I would say that fear of the power of that movement may silence some as to what they heard and saw after the Special Council Meeting of October 12.
Councillor M. Kellett
The above complaint was handled by Superintendent Williams then of Washington Police Area Command. He said that as he did not think the rest of the Hetton-le-Hole Town Councillors would say what they had seen of the assault made upon me in the Council Chambers he was not taking the matter further. It is reasonably clear that he did not interview any of the Councillors but had spoken to former Council Clerk Mr. J. Hibbert about the assault on me. I understand that Superintendent Williams went into retirement not long after my complaint to police.
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