A BEXLEY businessman has blamed a “witch hunt” and “Chinese whispers” for contributing to his planning application being turned down.

Owner of Bexley Minicabs Mark Campbell’s application to turn the rear of an ironing shop in Bexley Village High Street in to a minicab office was unanimously rebuffed by Bexley Council’s Planning Committee on Thursday, June 14.

The application attracted 23 letters of objection and a petition of 183 signatures, which Mr Campbell says was the result of “misinformation” and a “personal attack”.

Some of the criticism has come, he said, because he is the son of Bexley Council’s deputy leader, councillor Colin Campbell, and he has been accused of not following the planning process.

Mr Campbell, 39, said: “The first thing the person on the planning committee said was he was aware of the negative response it had.”

He added: “I do have a member of my family who is a councillor. Maybe that has not helped the situation.

“We have not hidden anything. As a business we have done nothing wrong. We filled in an application and complied with the law.

“Having the surname Campbell may have been a bad thing.”

He said the campaign against him had grown through “Chinese Whispers”, and that none of the complainants had contacted him to find out about the business.

He said: “It is nonsense and scandalous.

“It is a personal attack, it has nothing to do with the business.”

Mr Campbell said his company had listened to concerns of businesses and residents, which resulted in amendments to the application for reduced opening hours.

Bexley Minicabs also promised to hire a marshall and install CCTV for safety.

Planning officers recommended the application be refused on the basis that there was insufficient parking and access, hazards to pedestrians, noise and disturbance and the potential for increase crime and disorder.

In addition to the petition and letters of objection, the Highways Agency, Environmental Health and Bexley Police had reservations.

Bexley Police said there would be noise and disturbance for residents as well as potential traffic issues with cars meeting drunk people late at night.

Mr Campbell said he is planning to appeal the decision or submit a new application.