Former Councillor sentenced and ordered to pay £44k costs for breaching planning laws

Gavel next to papers
Former East Hertfordshire District Councillor, Mr William Ashley, appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday 19 September 2023 in relation to charges bought under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

On 6 March 2023, Mr Ashley pleaded guilty to two offences of making a false statement to procure an established use certificate in relation to planning permission granted in 2011 for the construction of six residential/commercial units at Monks Green Farm, and for failing to comply with a breach of condition notice issued by the council on 4 February 2020.  The matter was adjourned to 8 August 2023 at St Albans Magistrates Court where Mr Ashley appeared before District Judge Buttar and was committed to the Crown Court for sentence.

Mr Ashley of Monks Green Farm, Brickendon, Hertford, was sentenced to an eight-week community order and will be placed on an electronically monitored curfew to his residential address between the hours of 18:30 – 03:30 each day.  Mr Ashley was also ordered to pay costs of £44,263.62. 

In passing sentence, Recorder Buttar stated that Mr Ashley, a former director of Norths Herts Farmers for 35 years, a district and parish councillor of 28 years and a former local magistrate for 25 years, “was someone who had an exemplary reputation within the local community and had lost his good character today.  He knew how the criminal justice and planning system worked.  He knew what he was doing was wrong and there was an intention to commit the offences and in doing so undermined harm to public confidence when systems in place to ensure regulation of units that are used for residential and business use are not adhered to.” 

The prosecution followed an investigation by the Shared Anti-Fraud Service on behalf of the council.  

Councillor Vicky Glover-Ward, Executive Member for Planning and Growth, said: “The conviction of Mr. Ashley sends a clear message that our community will not tolerate violations of the law, especially when it concerns the integrity of our planning processes. We are determined to uphold the highest of standards so that residents have trust in the integrity of our services.”

Executive Member for Corporate Services at East Herts Council, Councillor Joseph Dumont, said: “East Herts Council remains steadfast in its commitment to thoroughly investigate all reports of fraud and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. I strongly encourage anyone with concerns to get in touch with the Shared Anti-Fraud Service and report them.”

The Shared Anti-Fraud Service works in partnership with East Herts Council to investigate and prosecute allegations of fraud against its many services.
You can report suspected fraud in the strictest confidence. For more information, and to report your concerns, visit:, email or call 0300 123 4033