Former council leader is fined for fly-tipping.
THE former leader of Swansea council has been fined for fly-tipping after storing wood and rubble in a businessman's garage for years - in a prosecution brought by the authority where he remains a councillor.
David Phillips, who led the authority from 2012 until last September, denied a single charge of fly-tipping in the garage near his home at Oaklands Terrace, Mount Pleasant, Swansea.
But the 65-year-old was branded a "nutcase" by businessman Leslie Peach, who told a judge sitting at Swansea Magistrates' Court he was in fact the garage owner.
Swansea councillor Phillips claimed he had been using the garage for two decades and believed he was the titular owner of the property having used it "without force or secrecy" for around 20 years.
Mr Peach, 78, of West Cross, Swansea, told District Judge Sophie Toms he was the owner of the garage and claimed his title to it was currently "invested" with the Land Registry.
Giving evidence, Mr Peach said he had been the owner of the garage since the 1990s and had used it over the years to store a car, some bathroom suites and a speedboat and added he secured it with "a very large padlock".
Phillips told Wednesday's hearing he "abhorred" fly-tipping and regarded it "an absolute disgrace".
He said he began using the garage on the first day he moved in in 1990 as removal workers saw it was unlocked and stored some furniture there.
The Labour politician said he was not challenged by anyone over using it for more than 20 years until Mr Peach confronted him last March. And he added he still hoped to secure ownership of the garage via the legal route of adverse possession which can in some circumstances grant ownership of property if used without force and secrecy over 12 years.
Phillips was found guilty and fined PS200 by District Judge Toms, who also ordered him to pay PS2,000 costs, a PS20 victim surcharge and PS250 compensation to Mr Peach. Ben Blakemore, Phillips' solicitor, said as a result of his conviction his position as chair of the Welsh Government's national advice service, to which he was appointed in January this year, may now have to be reviewed.