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Pensioner, 71, handed anti social behaviour warning for restoring rusting Grade II listed fountain

A pensioner has been handed an anti-social behaviour order after taking it upon himself to restore a Victorian fountain that had fallen into disrepair.

Bob Mouland, 71, was ordered to put his tools down by ‘pen pusher’ council chiefs after investing £200 of his own money to preserve Sidney Cooper Weston Fountain in Folkestone, Kent.

He spent hours giving the Grade II ornate cast iron statue, which no longer functions as a fountain due to rust, a new coat of paint.

But as he was applying the finishing touches on Monday lunchtime, a council officer ordered him to stop and two enforcement officers issued him with a warning notice.

Bob Mouland, 71, was issued with an anti-social behaviour warning after taking it upon himself to paint and preserve rusted Sidney Cooper Weston Fountain in Folkestone, Kent

Bob Mouland, 71, was issued with an anti-social behaviour warning after taking it upon himself to paint and preserve rusted Sidney Cooper Weston Fountain in Folkestone, Kent

Bob spent £200 of his own money painting the fountain, which no longer works due to rust, but was ordered to stop by a council officer on Monday because the statue is Grade II listed

Bob spent £200 of his own money painting the fountain, which no longer works due to rust, but was ordered to stop by a council officer on Monday because the statue is Grade II listed

Outraged Bob, said: ‘It’s so petty! 71 years without a blemish on my record, now this.

‘An anti-social order is meant to improve the lives of the people in the community. But I was already improving the lives of people in the community.

‘It is absolutely unbelievable.

‘I was just about to finish for the day when this officer came up and said “Stop painting!”. I told him to go away as I had work to do.

‘The next thing there’s these two bullies in stab vests with pepper spray and so on.’

The notice requested he ‘stopped committing anti-social behaviour’ as it was ‘having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, is persistent or is continuing in nature and unreasonable’.

The warning comes under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which replaced the infamous ASBO and can lead to a community protection notice if not complied with.

Council bosses said he is not allowed to work on the drinking fountain as it is listed.

Bob added that the fountain had been left in an ‘appalling condition’ and he could not ‘stand by and let it rot away’, saying not ‘a thing’ had been done until now. 

He said: ‘I admit it needs sandblasting but all I was doing was painting it to make it look better.

‘I used plum paint and an ivory colour. The original was plum and brilliant white but I thought the off white would look slightly better.’

Rusted away: The pensioner said the fountain had been left in an 'appalling condition' and he could not 'stand by and let it rot away', saying not 'a thing' had been done until now

Rusted away: The pensioner said the fountain had been left in an ‘appalling condition’ and he could not ‘stand by and let it rot away’, saying not ‘a thing’ had been done until now

The pensioner used plum and ivory paint (above) to renew the Victorian fountain, with locals flocking to support Bob as he painted, even offering to donate money to preserve the statue

The pensioner used plum and ivory paint (above) to renew the Victorian fountain, with locals flocking to support Bob as he painted, even offering to donate money to preserve the statue

Residents gave Bob teas and coffees while he painted the ornate statue, with others offering to pay for scaffolding so he could reach the top of the fountain.

One person even offered to pay for a pump to get the water flowing again, the 71-year-old added.

Bob said: ‘I just hope they see sense and let me finish it.

‘If you went to the town hall you wouldn’t find anyone there. But they can come out and do this?

‘It’s not the councillors – they’ve actually been quite supportive – it’s the pen pushers behind closed doors!’

Folkestone councillor Mary Lawes, 62, has been friends with Bob for 12 years and is helping him appeal the written warning in hope he will be allowed to finish the three lower areas, which only require glossing.

Mrs Lawes said: ‘It is a listed structure and maybe he should have asked for permission but the way he has been treated is absolutely disgusting.’

She added: ‘The fountain has been revitalised by spending much less time and costing far less money. The council had been stalling due to red tape.

‘Bob is a very old-fashioned honourable man who will finish anything he says he is going to do.

‘He’s done an absolutely fabulous job and I hope the council can see sense and let him finish it off.’ 

Folkestone councillor Mary Lawes, 62, is helping Bob appeal the written warning in the hope that he will be allowed to finish the three lower areas, which only require glossing

Folkestone councillor Mary Lawes, 62, is helping Bob appeal the written warning in the hope that he will be allowed to finish the three lower areas, which only require glossing

The fountain, which was built in 1897, originally sat on The Leas promenade but was moved in 1922. Bob fears the council want to move it again to a 'monstrosity' seafront development'

The fountain, which was built in 1897, originally sat on The Leas promenade but was moved in 1922. Bob fears the council want to move it again to a ‘monstrosity’ seafront development’

The fountain was built in 1897 in memory of Sidney Cooper Weston, a photographer, Christian philanthropist and temperance advocate who worked for the town and helped the poor.

It originally sat on The Leas clifftop promenade and provided water to the public, but was moved in 1922 to make room for the iconic war memorial on Remembrance Hill.

But Bob fears the council want to move the fountain to a new ‘monstrosity development’ on the seafront. 

A Folkestone & Hythe District Council spokesman said: ‘We were unaware someone had taken it upon themselves to carry out work on the fountain.

‘It is a listed structure and – as such – can only be worked on with the relevant permissions.

‘Officers have been working with local stakeholders including Go Folkestone, which is putting a funding bid together for the full restoration of the fountain.

‘This is supported by Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds Charity trustees.

‘The council is always pleased to work with local residents and groups, but this must be done in the right way by contacting us first and gaining permission.’

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