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Home   Sittingbourne   News   Article

Suicide fears for Teynham businessman Hari Johnston after Swale council phone rant about The Railyway Tavern

12 March 2014
by Hayley Robinson

Hari Johnston contacted Swale council after he received a letter saying his planning application had been turned down.

The father-of-three submitted plans to convert the Teynham pub he owns and lives above into a house.

Hari Johnston wants to turn the Railway Tavern into a house

Hari Johnston wants to turn the Railway Tavern into a house

He bought The Railway Tavern, The Crescent, in August 2009 amid fears it would close.

Over the years, the villagers' support has dwindled and it now only opens from 4pm to 7pm from Tuesday to Thursday; 4pm to 9pm on Friday; 3pm to 10pm on Saturday; and midday to 6pm on Sunday.

Mr Johnston wants to transform the premises into a home for his family because he claims it is "no longer commercially viable". However, his proposal was refused.

"When I spoke to the lady I said to her 'I have to feed my children and my wife. What do you want me to do, hang myself or jump under a train...?'" - Hari Johnston

Frustrated by the decision, he phoned the local authority to vent his frustration.

Shortly after putting the phone down, he was visited by officers at about 11am at Verni's Mini Market, which he also owns, after concerns for his welfare were raised.

He said: "When I spoke to the lady I said to her 'I have to feed my children and my wife. What do you want me to do, hang myself or jump under a train?'

"Within 10 minutes of hanging up the police were here looking for me.

"They told me they were taking me to hospital because I was unwell. I was surprised and shocked. I explained to them what had happened and that I'd turned my anger to her.

"I said 'I don't need to go to hospital. I'm absolutely perfect, but I'm so angry about Swale council's position'."

"I'm not making any money. Last Thursday, I had one customer and took just £9.60p.

"If I lose the pub, I'll also lose the shop because the finances are linked to the two businesses. I plan to appeal against the decision."

Father-of-three Hari Johnston outside the Railway Tavern in Teynham

Father-of-three Hari Johnston outside the Railway Tavern in Teynham

A council spokesman said: "Our planning department was contacted last week by an applicant who was disappointed with the outcome of a planning application.

"During conversation, the gentleman became agitated and upset, and made comments which raised serious concern for his welfare. The member of staff took advice and contacted Kent Police.

"Safeguarding of children and adults is a priority for everyone at Swale council, and we make no apologies for ensuring the safe welfare of our community."

Mr Johnston's development was turned down because it would "result in the loss of the public house use and its contribution to community facilities in the village".

The statement added: "The proposal fails to demonstrate, by suitable means of market testing, that there is insufficient demand to justify the retention for business and community use."


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