Published: 10:16, 14 September 2020
| Updated: 11:31, 14 September 2020
A pensioner slapped with an 'ASBO' for restoring a run-down fountain has today returned to work on it.
Bob Mouland received overwhelming support from the public after it was revealed he had been issued with a community protection warning by Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) for repairs he made to the dilapidated Sidney Cooper Weston Fountain.
The council said he had worked on the unique water fountain, which is more than 100 years old and sits in the Bruce Porter Garden in Wear Bay Road, Folkestone , without permission and the anti-social behaviour notice - part of new legislation which replaced ASBOs - gave instructions for him to cease work.
But since the story appeared on KentOnline last week, the authority has now made a u-turn and says it will work with Mr Mouland to finish the restoration .
Today, he returned to the gardens to finish the paint job.
A note left at the fountain has also 'touched his heart'.
It reads: "You have done an amazing job Bob, looking after Folkestone's history. We support you in every way. You should be greatly respected."
And despite the controversy and attention the project has gained, Mr Mouland says he would do it all again.
He said: "This anti-social behaviour warning said they are intended for causing a disturbance to the community.
"I was doing something for the community.
"I could have been given a hundred of these slips and I still would have wanted to restore the fountain.
"I am 71 years old and I have never had anything like this happen.
"In a way, it is quite an achievement.
"I would do it again."
A community protection warning comes under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and consolidated previous powers, the most well-known of which were anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs).
The written warning was handed to Mr Mouland last Monday by three officers from the council.
By the time the council became aware of his work on the fountain, he was already a month into the project, having spent hours each day painting it.
Residents living nearby had made Mr Mouland cups of tea as he carried out the intricate work, with materials he had purchased himself.
Mr Mouland said that councillors failed to see that members of the community were forced to walk past the "appalling state of that structure" every day, and nothing had been done.
He said: "In this case, the lives of the people were being affected by nothing being done and not by me doing something about it."
Since he spent around £200 on paint and tools to restore it, Mr Mouland said he has been inundated with offers to pay him for his service, as well as people willing to restore the pumps, water flow and get the fountain working again.
He said: "These people have offered to help out and restore the fountain free of charge.
"I've had offers to pay me back for the paint.
"It isn't about the money."
The 71-year-old, who is partially deaf, said he was inspired in part by Sidney Cooper Weston, the man the cast iron and one-of-a-kind fountain was named after.
Weston was a photographer, Christian philanthropist, temperance advocate and member of The Society Of Friends who worked tirelessly for the town of Folkestone.
Mr Mouland added: "The fountain pays tribute to a man who served his community.
"He fed children, put shoes on their feet, and made sure families had a roof over their heads when nasty landlords forced them out of their homes.
"He died at the age of 50, but accomplished a lot.
"It's like the community has come together again."
The fountain is owned by the Parks and Pleasure Grounds Charity Trustees, which is made up of FHDC cabinet members.
A spokesman for FHDC said: "It came to our attention that work was being carried out on the listed Sidney Cooper Weston Fountain, which is potentially an offence without obtaining the relevant permissions first.
"An enforcement officer attended the site and asked Mr Mouland to stop - a request which was repeatedly rejected.
"We were therefore left with no alternative, due to the sensitivities of the structure, than to issue a community protection warning - not an ASBO - to allow for further investigations to be carried out by our planning team.
"Having assessed the work that has been done so far, we are satisfied that there have been no material changes made to this listed structure.
"We are now happy to work alongside Mr Mouland to complete this project and no further action will be taken against him.
"We are always open to working in partnership with residents and local stakeholders in helping to make our district the extraordinary place it is, but things should always be approached in the right way to avoid unfortunate events such as these."
Members of group Go Folkestone are in the process of applying for Heritage Lottery Funds to refurbish the fountain completely and return it to its former glory, which will cost tens of thousands of pounds .