LOUGHTON: Camping commuter reveals story led to problems at work (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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LOUGHTON: Camping commuter reveals story led to problems at work
A CORNISH council worker who became a minor celebrity for commuting to London from an Epping Forest campsite claims he was forced out of his old job for speaking out about his choice of accommodation.
Philip Hanman, 58, hit the headlines in the midst of the MPs' second homes scandal last year when he revealed he travelled 330miles every week from his home in Penzance to sleep in a £7 a night tent at Debden House campsite in Loughton.
He would then commute to his job at Barking and Dagenham Council, but Mr Hanman has now revealed his employer was not happy with him telling his story of cut-price accommodation.
He said: “It all started with a broadcast I heard on Radio 4's PM programme. It was about the expenses scandal and second homes. I sent them an email saying 'My second home is a tent', and they sent someone out to the forest to interview me and then broadcast it.
“That very evening when I got home to Cornwall there was an email on my computer from the council saying: 'Be very careful, you are looking at disciplinary action.'
“It was quite amazing. They were as nasty as they could possibly be over it. Council's are full of self-important people who don't like people speaking out of turn, but what I was saying was nothing to do with the council. It was about travelling to work.
“I'd never had any criticism for my work and then all of a sudden everything I did was unsatisfactory. I was criticised for everything and couldn't do anything right.”
Mr Hanman eventually became so fed up with his job as a fraud manager at the council, he took voluntary redundancy in April this year.
He has since found part-time work teaching English as a foreign language but has yet to take up another full-time job.
Despite the negative effect on his work, Mr Hanman said he had received nothing but praise from the general public for speaking out against MPs' second homes.
“It was fabulous,” he said. “People were coming up to me in the street and saying 'Well done you spoke out very well'. I didn't get any negative comments.
“A year on, the MPs have ridden out the storm, the banks have ridden out the storm and it's people like me who have suffered. I was treated pretty shoddily.”
A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham Council said Mr Hanman had been made redundant as part of a wider-scale restructuring programme.
He added: “As with all redundancies the decision was a difficult one, but it was in no way a reflection on Mr Hanman’s performance during his time at Barking and Dagenham. We wish him all the best for the future.”
Mr Hanman still has nothing but praise for his favourite campsite which he plans to visit regularly.
“I went up there with my children in the summer, I remain on very friendly terms with the people there,” he said. “It's a lovely campsite and every time I go to London I'll stay there.”
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