Ed Lines

A SMALL part of me, which only pops its head up rarely, would really like to be a villain. It must be quite liberating to spend your life shafting people and still sleep with the conscience of a newborn babe.
If you read our story last week about Dewsbury taxi driver Nazir Hussein who got landed with a £5,000 legal bill over his fake whiplash claim, like me you probably gave a muted cheer.
Well done to Lee Robinson, who challenged Hussein over the scam – his fourth such claim. If I knew who this character was I’d book a ride in his cab, and the first time he braked I’d throw myself at the windscreen … see how you like it pal!
But I suspect that also like me, many people wondered why Hussein walked away with just a costs order. Why wasn’t he prosecuted for his fraudulent claim?
If the authorities can throw £8m of public money as a ‘star chamber’ persecution of Harry Redknapp, why can’t a few quid be spent pursuing cases like this? (And actually, I think I know the answer to my own question).
But why do insurance companies glibly play along with this racket?
I had my car broken into on Tuesday night, a smash and grab where the thief presumably targeted a handful of birthday cards in the hope there was cash in them – there wasn’t – and a couple of carrier bags.
I’m not sure the bottle of Night Nurse or three tubes of Colgate toothpaste would fetch much from his ‘fence’ but the bag which contained all my camera kit would yield a few quid.
I’m not in the habit of tempting opportunist thieves by leaving expensive gear lying about, hence the kit being inside a carrier, but hey, my own fault and all that.
It was a few years old, but would cost the thick end of £1,000 to replace. Thankfully I was insured and even had no claims protection.
Or so I thought. On Wednesday morning I got my second shafting – from the insurance company.
The £125 excess was one thing, but there was a theft claim limit of £250, and then I was informed it wasn’t worth bothering because despite my insurance protection, my premium would go up by 20% and I’d lose two years off my no claims.
As Tonto might ask the Lone Ranger, “so what’s with the no claims protection bull****, kemosabe?”
That small ‘villain’ part of me? If I’d been sitting across a desk from the character imparting the news of this insurance scam, as opposed to on the end of a phone, I’d have been tempted to smack him in the teeth.
In fact given a choice between dispensing a kicking to the smash ‘n’ grab thief and the insurance man, I’d have been hard pressed to decide.
And I wouldn’t lose a moment’s sleep over it.

I DON’T often find myself in the middle of a story, but it happened this week in the most amazing fashion, when I had occasion to question Kirklees Council planning officer Stuart Daniel over the Stanley Gath Coaches story we printed this week.
You see, I’d known Mr and Mrs Gath and their daughters since childhood, growing up in Thornhill. Over a span of 30 years – until Angela closed the business down after the sudden death of her husband John Bragg – I was an occasional visitor to their home and garage in Thornhill Lees.
I was never there when mechanics and fitters weren’t in the pits under one or another of their coaches – or someone else’s – and so was happy to write a letter saying as much when Angela managed to find another company to lease the site.
So you can imagine my reaction when I was effectively called a liar by the planning officer with ultimate power over this situation – and people’s livelihoods.
Mr Daniel sort of backtracked from actually accusing me when I expressed my incredulity. He claimed instead that I might just be doing a friend a favour – but reiterated that he was minded to ignore my submission anyway, plus the others in support of the DMR case.
The objectors were getting more time to in effect trump the opposition evidence – and he sounded quite pleased with himself. Unbelievable.
Now, forget for a moment the rights and wrongs of the dispute. Any such decision should be made fairly and transparently – that’s all anyone asks.
But the fact that a tuppenny dictator like this character effectively has people’s lives in his hands is truly shocking.
The vast majority of planning applications are delegated for officers to decide and this week made it clear to me that the Kirklees system is unfit for purpose.
Stuart Daniel clearly didn’t see the irony in he and his colleagues wanting to lump thousands of houses up the road from this garage with one hand, while effectively closing down a local company (or hadn’t anyone noticed the economy’s struggling?)
He denied that he knew objectorinchief Martin Broadhead was a major Kirklees land tenant, who according to local gossip is hoping to nett a fortune in compo out of the housing plans for Thornhill Lees.
I can’t confirm the veracity of that. Mr Broadhead did a vanishing act while his wife ordered me off the property when I went for a word.
The very least this case should have is a public hearing before elected members.
As I write, that will only happen if Stuart Daniel is minded to approve the application and he’s clearly made his mind up on that already.
I’ve just got an email from the council covering his back while not answering my questions directly. It’s also clear he’s suddenly ‘reremembering’ our conversations to suit the mess he’s made.
The wriggling ‘politicians’ at Kirklees are amateurs compared to their officers.

IT’S coming to something when India has to tell our skint government it doesn’t want our international aid money – and we insist that they are having it anyway.
It sums up precisely why people like David Cameron and his pampered coterie of cabinet pals don’t ‘get’ the world beyond Whitehall their manicured driveways.
India has more money than us. A bigger military. It gives out its own international aid.
India has poverty because India chooses to have poverty.
It suits its caste system,  its dictatorial and corrupt system of government and it suits its economy.
Why else do you think India can make things so cheaply and have a booming export economy? It’s not difficult to fathom.
Our international bribes are to salve guilty imperial consciences, that’s all.
The ‘fun’ will start when the Indian people have had enough of the corruption and rise up – the Pakistani people too – as they have across the Arab world this past 12 months.
And in time they will.
Can you see a British Prime Minister sending the troops in to assist the protestors (the majority of whom are likely to be fundamentalist Muslims by the way) as we saw in Iraq and Libya?
No, me neither.

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