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Tag Archives: paid

Snorkelling benefits cheat sentenced for ‘barefaced lies’

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Media captionHoey was photographed snorkelling on holiday while claiming she could barely walk

A benefits cheat caught out by holiday photos showing her snorkelling has been given an 18-month suspended jail term.

Linda Hoey, 58, deceived authorities for 15 years, wrongly claiming £65,244 in disability benefits as well as using a motability vehicle to dodge £15,690 in M6 Toll fees.

The judge at Stafford Crown Court said Hoey told “barefaced lies” and is “someone whose word cannot be trusted.”

Hoey, from Amington, Tamworth, had her jail sentence suspended for two years.

See more stories from Stoke and Staffordshire here

Image copyright PA
Image caption Linda Hoey had been claiming benefits for degenerative arthritis and a back problem since 1995

She was also made the subject of a six-month electronic curfew.

Hoey falsely claimed she could barely walk and suffered back pain bad enough she had to walk backwards down the stairs and needed to use furniture for support.

Medical evidence showed although Hoey had what Judge Michael Elsom described as “a degree of disability”, she was found to have exaggerated her condition.

Photos of her snorkelling on holiday and accounts from colleagues who said she would carry trays of cups of tea exposed “15 years of dishonesty”, Mr Elsom said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Hoey used a stick when leaving court on Monday

A Department for Work and Pensions investigation found despite claiming more than £65,000 in disability payments, Hoey had been in paid employment since 1997.

Mr Elsom said: “At the time you were telling those lies, you were actually going to work every day, driving yourself to work every day and you were observed walking.”

Image copyright DWP
Image caption Another picture showed her on holiday on a quad bike

Her claims “were nothing more than bare faced lies which you continued in this court”, he told her.

The judge said her conduct “merits harsh words” and told Hoey: “I hardly think you merit the description your daughter gave you, as someone to whom she can look up to as a role model.

“If that’s the sort of role model that your daughter thinks is appropriate – that’s a very great shame indeed.”

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Universal credit ‘making financial abuse easier’

Woman at tableImage copyright Thinkstock

Changes to benefit payments have made it easier for abusive partners to withhold money, according to a charity.

Welsh Women’s Aid said universal credit, which combines multiple benefit payments into one, was “enabling” financial abuse.

One woman from south Wales claims she was “dragged” to the bank and forced to take out a loan by her former husband.

The Department for Work and Pensions said its staff were trained to support victims of abuse.

Universal credit merges a string of previously separate benefits into one payment – now paid into one bank account.

The charity said abusive partners manipulate the system by getting universal credit paid into their account and keeping it for themselves.

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One woman from south Wales, who does not want to be identified, said her former husband brandished weapons and “took the reins” of her finances – building up debts in her name.

“He ended up dragging me down to the bank to get a loan out in my name that he had already investigated,” she said.

“[My husband] popped out of the room to get a leaflet, I was able to signal to the bank manager that I did not want to be there.

“He said ‘I can see that’ but, in the end when the forms came through, he stood over me and I signed them,” she added.

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Welsh Women’s Aid said 38% of women accessing specialist violence services in Wales in 2016-17 were identified as victims of financial abuse.

It said welfare reforms such as the benefits cap and changes to housing benefit were making it more difficult for people to leave abusive relationships.

By 2022, more than 400,000 households in Wales will receive universal credit.

Gwendolyn Sterk, public affairs manager at Welsh Women’s Aid, said the new single payment system needed to change.

“We need a system that recognises a women’s right to an independent income, rather than going back to the idea that one bread-winner would have that money paid into their account – and give them ultimate control over the whole finances of that household,” she said.

While claimants in abusive relationships can arrange split payments, many were reluctant to do so out of fear the abuse would get worse, the charity said.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Domestic abuse in any form is completely unacceptable and we are committed to doing all we can to improve support for people affected.

“Our staff are trained to support vulnerable people, including those who are victims of domestic abuse.

“That includes referring people to specialist organisations for more support and alternative payment arrangements can be made for those on universal credit.”

Labour pledges law to cut credit card debt

Credit cardsImage copyright PA

Legislation limiting the amount of interest that can be charged on credit card debts is being promised by the Labour Party.

Under the changes, nobody would pay more in interest than they had originally borrowed.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell says more than three million people are “trapped” by credit card debt.

He will unveil the planned change in the law in a speech at Labour’s conference in Brighton.

Labour said the changes would work in a similar way to measures on payday loans, which came into force in 2015.

The Financial Conduct Authority has called for new measures to help people in “persistent debt” as a result of credit cards.

The regulator says over three million people are in persistent debt, which it defines as having have paid more in interest and charges than they have repaid of their borrowing over an 18-month period.

Labour said its “total cost cap” would help “tackle the persistent debt spiral”, claiming growing consumer debt was becoming a “threat to our economy”.

Unscrupulous lenders

Addressing delegates in Brighton, Mr McDonnell will say: “The Financial Conduct Authority has argued for action to be taken on credit card debt as on payday loans.

“I am calling upon the government to act now apply the same rules on payday loans to credit card debt.

“It means that no-one will ever pay more in interest than their original loan.

“If the Tories refuse to act, I can announce today that the next Labour government will amend the law.”

UK Finance, which represents the financial and banking industry, said it was committed to responsible lending and that consumer credit was important for economic growth.

It added that “the last thing the industry wants is to see those who are most vulnerable being pushed towards the hands of unscrupulous and unregulated lenders”.

When the FCA called for action in April, the UK Cards Association, which represents the major credit card providers, said the industry was “committed to helping the minority of cardholders who do not use a credit card in a way which is in their best interest”.

The Conservatives said action was already being taken to outlaw “rip-off credit card charges” and ensure companies help customers clear debt.

Brexit row

On day one of Labour’s conference, the party’s position on Brexit came under scrutiny as leader Jeremy Corbyn faced calls to keep the UK in the EU single market – and some MPs expressed anger as no motions on Brexit were selected for debate on the floor.

Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer will speak in the auditorium on Monday, when he is expected to say the Tory approach to negotiations on leaving the European Union reveals the “post-imperial delusions” of Theresa May’s party.

Instead, he will promise a promise a “democratically legitimate and economically sensible” approach.

Labour to offer some women earlier retirement option

Pensions protest
Image caption Changes to women’s retirement age sparked widespread protests

Labour would allow hundreds of thousands of women born in the 1950s to retire at 64 on a reduced state pension, rather than wait until 66.

Government changes to the retirement age have been “chaotic”, shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams will tell Labour’s conference later.

Many women who expected to retire at 60 must now work several years longer before receiving a state pension.

Ms Abrahams will say her plan would mean pension security for thousands.

Her change would benefit women born between 1954 and 1960.

“This will ensure that those who have suffered the consequences of this government’s chaotic mismanagement of the state pension age have the security they need,” she will tell the party’s conference in Brighton.

“We will continue to work with these women to get justice.”

Many women were caught by surprise when the timetable for moving to a later retirement age was accelerated in 2011.

The Waspi – Women Against State Pension Inequality – campaign is pushing for a transitional “bridging pension” to help women whose retirement plans have been thrown into disarray.

Labour has already promised to extend pension credit to the women affected.

In its manifesto for the June general election, the party said it was “exploring options for further transitional protections to ensure that all these women have security and dignity in older age”.

Precise financial details were not immediately available, but Ms Abrahams will say the scheme would be “cost-neutral in the long term”.

Ms Abrahams will also call for a pause in the roll-out of universal credit, to allay fears that claimants will be plunged into poverty as it is extended across the country over the next 12 months.

She argues that there is evidence of “deepening poverty” as more welfare claimants are transferred to universal credit, which replaces a range of older benefits.

She will cite reports that one in four claims are not paid within six weeks, leading to increased debt and mounting rent arrears.

Horsham stabbing: Two men face murder charges

Mr WillamsImage copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Anthony Williams, 37. died at the scene of the stabbing on Tuesday

Two men have been charged with the murder of a man found stabbed to death at a property in West Sussex.

Anthony Williams, 37, was killed at a property in Park Way, Horsham, on Tuesday. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Sussex Police said.

Nicholas Bridge, 18, from Loughborough Park, Brixton, London, and Daniel Omofeghare, 20, of no fixed abode, have been charged with murder.

Mr Williams’ family have paid tribute to an “amazing father”.

They said: “He always put others before himself and wanted to change the world for the better.”

His memory, they added, would “always live on in his children”.

Mr Omofeghare and Mr Bridge will appear at Brighton Magistrates Court.

Further inquiries

Two other men, both from Horsham, aged 50 and 36, were arrested on Friday on suspicion of aiding, abetting or assisting the offence.

They have been released under investigation, police said.

A 22-year-old woman of no fixed address, arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, has been released on bail until 17 October pending further inquiries.

A 30-year-old man from Broadbridge Heath, arrested on suspicion of murder, has been released with no further action.

Det Ch Insp Emma Heater said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Anthony Williams who have lost a son, brother and dad.”

CAR REVIEW: Gold-roofed DS3 conjures up memories of Odsal stock car racing

When I first set eyes on the DS3’s sparkling golden roof, my mind skipped back a few decades to the days of stock car racing at Odsal stadium.

According to the rules of the sport, only the world champion is allowed to paint his roof in such a way to denote superiority over all challengers.

So it was that I would watch with intrigue from the Rooley Avenue terrace as gold-topped cars driven by legends such as Stuart Smith, Peter Falding and John Lund performed what seemed like motoring miracles on the floodlit shale track below.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A gold-roofed stock car leads the way during a race at Odsal in 1986

Above: A gold-roofed stock car leading the rolling lap at Odsal 

With half a dozen formula one stock car finals held at Odsal in the 1980s and 90s, it truly was a golden era for the sport in Bradford.

Now, with the arrival of the DS3 Performance, it was my turn to feel like a world champ for the week while behind the wheel of a car painted in matt black and complete with a gold roof, gold mirror cappings and even a gold dashboard.

Those who prefer subtlety may want to steer clear because this car’s colourscheme attracts plenty of attention, proving that a gold roof still marks a vehicle out as special, whether on the stock car track or on the public highway.

But the DS3 Performance isn’t all about looks – it’s good to drive too.

With its modified suspension, lowered ride height and a wider track, the handling has been greatly enhanced. When tackling the tighter corners with urgency, it displays sure-footed, confidence-inspiring qualities.

With its agility further aided by the addition of a Torsen limited-slip differential, this special DS3 would no doubt be capable of a blistering lap round the famous Odsal track!

One place where it did come into its own was during a day trip to Chatsworth House, the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Devonshire near Bakewell, as the go kart-style handling proved useful on some of the tight and twisty rural roads that run between West Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The DS3 Performance with Chatsworth House in the background during a trip out to Derbyshire

Above: DS3’s gold trimmings match those of Chatsworth House

If the car’s performance was equal to those roads, it’s appearance was also a match for Chatsworth House, which itself received some extra ‘bling’ during a recent restoration project that reintroduced gold leaf to key features, notably around the windows.

Under the car’s bonnet, you’ll find a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, which has been updated for improved emissions and economy.

It puts out 210bhp, leaving it a touch short of current hot-hatch figures, which tend to be above 250bhp.

Nevertheless, it’s no slouch, feeling potent from low down the rev range and performing the sprint to 62mph in 6.5 seconds, which seems sufficient for everyday driving requirements.

Meanwhile, the gear ratio on the six-speed manual box has been shortened to create extra sportiness.

In many ways, it strikes a balance between a car that offers sprightly performance when the need arises, while remaining comfortable and easy to drive in towns and cities. However, once you leave the smoother surfaces found on city centre roads, the hard and sporty suspension makes for a less comfortable ride, as the car doesn’t do much to iron out road imperfections.

You get the overall feeling that DS Performance, the motorsport division of DS Automobiles, has paid great attention to detail in designing this car, with its 18” black alloy wheels, twin sports exhaust and DS Performance badging.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The DS3's gold dash

Inside the cabin, the gold dash might not be to everyone’s taste, but I thought it suited the car’s personality rather nicely and made a change from the ubiquitous black/grey dashboards found in so many other cars. The sports seats offer great comfort and support, while the leather-swapped steering wheel is a nice touch.

With its good looks, excellent handling and brisk acceleration, DS may just have struck gold with this little beauty.

THE LOWDOWN

DS3 Performance

PRICE: £25,915 on the road

BODY STYLE: Three-door hatchback

ENGINE: 1.6-litre four-cylinder, 210bhp

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual

0-62MPH: 6.5sec

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 52.3mpg

EMISSIONS: 125g/km

‘Living in the dark’

Two victims being helped by the Justice for Domestic Workers charity
Image caption Maria and Kim say they were paid nothing for their work

One woman clutches a tissue. Then, a simple question: “What happened to you?”

That’s when the tears come. “My employer is not good for me…”

Maria has barely got her first words out when the emotion overwhelms her.

She continues her tale, weeping, sniffing. You can barely make out what she is saying. But you do not need words to understand.

She was born in the Philippines and left the country to take up a job as a domestic worker for a woman in the Gulf.

Raw fear

In April this year, she moved to Britain. Maria got a visa and came in legally. Since arriving, she has been exploited – sometimes, barely fed. She is expected to work round the clock. She has not been paid for five months.

Maria escaped from her employer just the week before she gave this interview. Her fear is raw.

Kim escaped a similar situation some time ago. Yet even for her, the memory of the way she was treated by the people who employed her as a maid is still painful.

Image copyright Home Office
Image caption There are tens of thousands in slave-like conditions in the UK, says the anti-slavery commissioner

“This family, they think you are rubbish. One time they tell me, ‘All you Filipina are slaves.'”

Like Maria, Kim is not her real name – we are protecting both women as they have recently managed to escape.

They are being helped by a charity – Justice for Domestic Workers.

The people Kim worked for flew here in a private jet to live in a mansion. She has not been paid a penny.

Toy clue

It is estimated there are 40 million people living and working in slave-like conditions globally.

Even in the UK – which the country’s anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, says is “streets ahead” of other countries – it is thought there are tens of thousands.

The British government has made tackling slavery a priority.

At Britain’s borders there are more officers trained to spot people-trafficking.

From the control centre behind the one-way glass at Heathrow airport, they are keeping a close eye on who is coming in, their documents, any signs of distress.

Image caption Officials watch at Heathrow airport for signs of potential trafficked people

But how do you spot modern-day slaves – when often even they will not know the kind of treatment they are about to receive once they arrive? Training helps – so does a bit of luck.

Amanda Reid, the national operational lead for safeguarding and modern slavery in the Border Force, remembers one such moment.

“The roving officer at the gates spotted a young lady carrying a really rather large Disney toy and happened to say, ‘What’s that for?’ and she didn’t have an immediate answer.

“Very soon after that we then saw another [young lady carrying a really rather large Disney toy].

“And this was really an indication something wasn’t right.

“Her story unravelled, and it was clear she was heading for exploitation.”

Immigration officials say the toy was being used by criminal gangs as a “marker”. The toys were meant to identify the victims of trafficking to the people meeting them in arrival halls

Duped or coerced

In the first three months of this year, more then 200 potential victims have been identified at the British border.

But the efforts go far beyond one national boundary.

This is a $150bn (£110bn) a year industry. And in source countries around the world Britain has officers working with local officials to help victims, and to educate people about the dangers of falling into the traffickers’ trap.

That is the kind of international approach Justine Currell wants to see happen more.

She helped draft the Modern Slavery Act at the Home Office. Now, she is the executive director of Unseen – a charity helping victims of slavery.

People “either come here for a better life”, she says, or they are “duped or coerced or deceived into thinking that there is a job for them in the UK”.

“Many of these people are then in debt bondage,” she says.

“Their travel has been paid for, the work that they thought they were going into has been paid for, they then need to pay their exploiter back.”

Problems getting help

Victims can get help through the National Referral Mechanism, the government-funded support service.

But many of the foreign-born victims, who do not have the right paperwork to stay here, do not trust the system and fear it exists to send them back to their country of origin.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Victims struggle to be believed, says anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland

The anti-slavery commissioner says this part of the system needs reform.

Mr Hyland says it focuses too much on the immigration status of the victims, rather than the crime itself.

“There is no other crime where someone has to jump through hoops to be believed,” he says.

The Home Office says a review of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) has taken place.

It expects to announce some changes later this year.

That may come too late for Kim, Maria, and another woman also recently freed from slavery in the UK.

‘Living scared’

Patricia made the decision some time ago not to apply to the NRM, and has now joined the ranks of the perhaps one million people in the UK living here without permission.

“It’s like living in the dark,” she says.

“I’m living scared every time I’m in the train, in the bus. I’m thinking I will be caught and sent to the Philippines.”

Why stay, then?

“It’s financial – I can support my family, my daughter and also my siblings, some of my nephews and nieces so they can go to school.”

She adds, trembling: “Even if my situation is like this, I stay here because I can help them.”

So she remains vulnerable, and in the shadows.

You can download a podcast of Matthew Price’s reports, on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme website.

Your pension savings are under threat from scammers like never before

AT ITS best, planning for retirement can be a complicated, time-consuming and confusing business.

At its worst, it can be the nightmare from hell, presenting a head-bursting, life-changing minefield of bureaucracy and a seemingly endless array of financial options.

The whole business took a huge change for the worse in 2015 when the Government’s pension reforms gave the over-55s an even bigger range of choices as to how they can use their retirement savings.

That’s not to say that the new freedoms introduced at the time were not welcome – and widely praised – but they made life for those approaching retirement quite a lot harder, especially for people who found just balancing the weekly household budget a challenge.

By far the biggest problem was that they opened a mass of opportunities for scammers and fraudsters to exploit.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards was among the organisations that spotted the potential for trouble and issued warnings at the time.

As David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, put it: “There is a scam out there for everyone, but we know that our older, more vulnerable residents often fall victim to scams all too easily.

“As we continue to raise awareness across West Yorkshire of the tactics commonly being used by criminals to trick people out of their cash, we hope to build resilience in communities and prevent residents from becoming prey to fraudsters.”

His comments were, to coin a phrase, right on the money.

Up to the end of May this year, Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre, had recorded more than 2,900 cases of pension scams, with more than £43 million of retirement savings lost.

Action Fraud says: “Pension scammers promise to convert pension funds into cash before retirement, or in some cases they may suggest people can take more than 25 per cent of their pension pot as cash.

“Criminals are believed to be fraudulently exploiting the pension liberation process in a number of ways. These include: failing to advise members of the tax implications of receiving cash from their pension; failing to advise members of the full extent of fees to be paid in relation to any onward investment; and falsely representing anticipated levels of returns when investments are either non-existent or incapable of providing such a return.”

They say the scammers have a variety of tricks designed to catch out the unwary or confused.

They may claim that you can access your pension pot before age 55; approach you out of the blue over the phone, via text message or in person door-to-door to entice you with upfront cash; offer a free “pension review” or try to lure you in with so-called “one-off” investment opportunities.

Earlier this year, the Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into storage unit investment schemes, touted as a growth industry and potentially highly profitable, amid fears that large numbers of people had lost big sums of money after investing their pension pots in them.

One man was apparently persuaded to transfer almost £370,000 out of his NHS workplace pension into a storage unit scheme with an alleged eight to 12 per cent return and was likely to lose all his money as a result.

It’s hardly surprising that people fall for such scams when all most of us want to do is ensure as comfortable a retirement as possible.

Last year, Citizens Advice estimated almost 11 million consumers had received unsolicited contact about their pension in the previous 12 months.

It prompted them to carry out a survey of 2,000 people which found that three out of four people were confident they could spot a pension scam.

But when they tested them with three similar pension advertisements, only one of which was legitimate, 88 per cent of those who took part chose the two ads containing scams. Most of those fooled said they had opted for the ones offering the biggest potential returns.

The Pensions Regulator suggests five steps to avoid becoming a victim of a pension scam:

• If you are cold-called about your pension, just hang up

• Check the credentials of the company and any advisers – who should be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority

• Ask for a statement showing how your pension will be paid at retirement, and question who will look after your money until then

• Speak to an adviser that is not associated with the deal you’ve been offered, for unbiased advice

• Never be rushed into agreeing to a pension transfer

But is that enough to safeguard your precious retirement savings?

The Government’s Work and Pensions Committee this week launched an inquiry into the reforms to find out whether they are achieving their objectives and whether enough is being done to prevent scams and mis-selling.

Although for many people the choice of what to do with their pension savings in preparation for retirement is the biggest financial decision they will make, the committee says research by the Financial Conduct Authority suggests people are making their pension choices without the support available, increasing the risk they will not get the best value from their savings.

Of people aged 55 and over planning to retire in the next two years, just seven per cent had used the free and impartial Pension Wise guidance service.

Committee chairman Frank Field said: “Pension freedom and choice liberated savers to choose what they wanted to do with their own money. This was welcome, but as with any radical reform it is important to monitor its practical effects closely to ensure it is working as envisaged.

“In this case it is vital that adequate support ensures people are equipped to ensure they don’t make decisions they subsequently regret.

“I am particularly concerned that savers are more vulnerable than ever to unscrupulous scam artists. This policy must not become the freedom to liberate people of their savings.”

The committee has asked for written evidence submissions by October 23 but it’s not known how long it will be before it makes its recommendations.

In the meanwhile, there can be just one simple message for those seeking to invest their retirement savings: be very, very careful.

HOW TO GET HELP

For advice on pensions and scams:

pensionwise.gov.uk or phone 0800 138 3944

pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk or phone 0300 123 1047

thepensionsregulator.gov.uk

citizensadvice.org.uk or phone 03454 04 05 06

To report scams:

actionfraud.police.uk or phone 0300 123 2040

Essex Fire Service spent £400,000 on legal costs

David Johnson
Image caption Essex’s chief fire officer David Johnson went on long-term sick leave in June 2014 and was formally suspended in April 2015

A fire service spent more than £400,000 in a single month on legal costs in a case which led to the dismissal of its chief fire officer, it has emerged.

David Johnson was suspended from his role as Essex’s chief fire officer in April 2015. He was sacked in April.

The Essex Fire Brigades Union has voiced its concern at the level of legal services spending.

The fire service said it hired external legal experts on the case for reasons of “transparency and fairness”.

Among the 29 pages of the fire service’s invoiced expenditure are three entries – one for £365,480, one for £35,422 and third for £15,000 – paid for “legal expenses” to Essex County Council, which has a legal services department.

The fire service confirmed all three payments related to the case of Mr Johnson.

Image caption The legal expenses in May are in addition to hundreds of thousands of pounds already spent in the case

This £415,902 legal spend in May comes on top of four separate £150,000 payments to the county council for legal services in March and January.

The fire service has yet to confirm whether this additional £600,000 in legal spending relates to the David Johnson case.

The service has previously confirmed it spent more than £100,000 between April 2015 and February 2016 on legal fees in the case.

Alan Chin-Shaw, secretary of the Essex branch of the FBU, said the £1m spent on legal fees in the past year would be enough to fund a “whole-time fire station for a year“.

“My view is that if they have put themselves in a position where they need that much legal advice then chances are they are probably not doing right,” he said.

Leadership team

The BBC asked the fire service why the fire service’s own solicitor – who is paid about £100,000 a year – had not been used in the case.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “The matter was dealt with by the clerk to Essex Fire Authority.

“The clerk has delegated authority to act as the authority’s principal solicitor. The clerk advised the fire authority to undertake an independent investigation.

“The service’s solicitor is a member of the service leadership team and colleague of the former chief fire officer.

“In light of this, and our commitment to transparency and fairness, it was inappropriate for him to deal with this matter.”

In January 2017, the BBC revealed how a confidential Essex Fire Authority report showed Mr Johnson had faced 10 allegations but found no evidence of “misconduct or gross misconduct”.

No reason for Mr Johnson’s sacking has yet been given by Essex County Fire and Rescue.

The fire authority said his dismissal “followed a robust process in compliance with the law in relation to statutory officers“.

Council accused of ‘bullying and intimidation’ over Bradford to Shipley cycle route plans

MEMBERS of Bradford East Area Committee have branded the Council disrespectful towards them after the committee sought to find an alternative route for a controversial cycle path.

In July the committee, while welcoming the cycle link from Bradford towards Shipley, argued businesses along Canal Road had put forward robust concerns about trade being affected and suggested that an alternative scheme along Valley Road be investigated.

However, this week the Council’s Executive rubber stamped the scheme to build a £2.5 million segregated path, known as CityConnect 2, along the Canal Road corridor towards Shipley.

The moved has sparked anger among Canal Road business owners who could now pursue a multi-million pound lawsuit against the Council.

Speaking at tonight’s meeting of the area committee, Councillor David Ward (Independent, Bolton and Undercliffe) said: “We have been subject to bullying and intimidation and cajoled by the Council into saying we have to do this or lose funding that had been put in place. It is disgraceful.

“We were responding about our concerns for local businesses since these confirmed local businesses had concerns. But this committee was accused of being indecisive. There have been bitter and resentful accusations made against this committee.”

Cllr Ward said other parts of the route were also unsuitable. “Going up that hill at Hamm Strasse will kill half the cyclists it’s that steep,” he said.

Committee chairman Councillor Rachel Sunderland (Lib Dem, Bolton and Undercliffe) added: “This was never about not having a cycle route, it was about protecting our businesses.”

She said one of the traders, Uriah Woodhead and Sons, had planned to expand their business but had said those plans would be put on hold if the cycle route along Canal Road was approved.

She added the company, which paid £185,000 each year in business rates, had even spoken about moving away altogether.

Cllr Ward said he was not happy that the report they were discussing was for information and noting only.

“What is a matter of fact is businesses have not been fully consulted,” he added.

Director of Place, Steve Hartley, said consultations had gone on over a two year period and there had also been an amended design.

He said more than 200 letters had been sent out.