Non-Compliance with Condition 5

Condition 5. – No works, other than the launching or beaching of vessels, shall take place within the shelter between the hours of 7pm and 7am Monday to Saturday and not at all on Sundays or Bank Holidays unless any written consent of variation is previously given by the Development Corporation as local planning authority.

The reasons for the above condition is; In the interests of the amenity of the surrounding area, which includes residential and tourism/leisure related uses. It is a breach of condition 5 to use the cover on a Sunday without prior notice and more of a criminal offence rather than a minor misdemeanour which is why a complaint was made on 20-Dec-16:

From: Michael Dawson
Sent: 20 December 2016 15:53
To: complaints@southtyneside.gov.uk
Subject: Re: Sunday Working by UK Docks, River Drive.
Dear Sir or Madam,
This is the second time in a few weeks that they have been working on a Sunday. Please acknowledge this complaint as I wish to take the issue up with the ward Councillor who organised the meeting – see below.
Kind regards,
Michael Dawson

Elegant in its simplicity, and the relevant bit below, was

I was told at a meeting with Mr Cunningham, the Principal Planning Officer, in November 2013, about the Conditions attached original Grant in 1996 (No 5 referred to the working hours) and they had been agreed as 7am to 7pm but not Sundays or Bank holidays.

There was no response from the planner currently responsible for dealing with UK Docks but there was one from Customer Advocates who appeared to have been misinformed by him. This, and asking Customer Advocates to respond, was first clue that the Council did not want the incident logged and confirms the view that Condition 5 still stands.

Customer Advocates said over a few emails:

  1. Your current email requesting a complaint be logged due to noise and/or breach of working hours conditions has been queried with the relevant service teams. – there is no mention of noise in the complaint;
  2. With regards to the control of general working hours at the site, in respect of planning no restrictions exist, Local Government Ombudsman, (LGO) final draft 15-Apr-2015. – they existed in November 2013 and they were written in because of the interests of the amenity of the surrounding area, which includes residential and tourism/leisure related uses;
  3. It would be unreasonable to seek to impose a planning condition restricting the working hours of the boat repair business or restricting the types of works associated with boat repairs at this application site, as it is an established boat repair yard. – an opinion expressed in paragraph 5.61 of the recommendation to the Planning Committee ST/0461/14/FUL (author believed to be Mr Simmonette);
  4. I had responded as we currently have contact restrictions in place for you and therefore issues relating to the boat shed will be referred to me initially in order to assess whether the contact relates to your historic complaint on the original boat shed, or new matters. I will then refer any new matters to the relevant teams and had done so for advice on this report regarding the allegation of Sunday working outside agreed hours. I would refer you to the highlighted paragraph below regarding the Sunday working matter which was received from the team – the historic complaint is non-compliance with condition 2. Working on a Sunday is a breach of condition 5 and has nothing to do with condition 2 apart from appearing in the same list of contitions. Notice also that the complaint was changed to an allegation which is why a date/timed photo was sent in which converted the allegation back into a complaint*;
  5. Officers at the Town Hall were correct in advising you that they could not help you further with complaints regarding Sunday working at UK Docks, as this had been dealt with as part of the historic complaint you made to the Council and to which current contact restrictions apply – Sunday working was not a historic complaint and it was a visit to the Town Hall that established who was misleading Customer Advocacy.

Meanwhile the planning officer responsible, Gary Simmonette, had:

  1. not registered the complaint – therefore no official record of it exists;
  2. suggested that the complaint had already been addressed by the LGO:
    16. The Authority’s view is that condition 5 should not have been imposed because the site already had the benefit of unrestricted working hours. I cannot comment on this. I do not know how the business operated in 1996 and it is too long ago for the Ombudsman to investigate;
  3. a quote from the committee report for the latest planning application for the site (see item 3, above) –
    5.61 It would be unreasonable to seek to impose a planning condition restricting the working hours of the boat repair business or restricting the? types of works associated with boat repairs at this application site, as it is an established boat repair yard.
  4. misinforming Customer Advocacy on points 2 and 3 above and using them to respond on his behalf repeating these misrepresentations.

In 2, the Ombudsman has given short shrift to whoever tried to sneak an amendment to condition 5 past her as she said she could not comment on it. Item 3 is only the author’s opinion, as the condition was made in the interest of the amenity of the surrounding area, which includes residential and tourism/leisure related uses. Whoever included clause 5.61, if it was not Mr Simmonette, was acting not in the interest of the residents but in the interest of UK Docks.
It looks like UK Docks were probably breaking the law by not giving us advance notice that they wished to operate the slipway (use the cover) on a Sunday. As I understand the situation, a breach of the planning conditions is a serious offence and action should be taken by the Council to make sure that UK Docks comply with the conditions and Mr Simmonette has ducked his responsibility in taking no enforcement action.
However it appears that there has been no working on a Sunday since 6th February so maybe someone from the Council has spoken to them.

Michael Dawson

* when serious complaints are made they are now referred to as ‘allegations’. This first occurred in a letter from Corporate Lead to the MP for Berwick.
Corporate Lead, Mrs Hayley Johnson, manages the process and staff that support customer complaints and answers to the Chief Executive. I’ve complained about hers and Mr Simmonette’s conduct to him but my complaint was just placed on file because there were references to UK Docks. Hayley Johnson imposed the contact restrictions i.e. don’t respond or ask Customer Advocacy to respond if ones correspondence mentions UK Docks.

Mail to Cllr Anglin 8-Aug-17

6 pairs of footings set 13.1m apart. The plans are for 5 pairs set 12.2m apart.

Dear Cllr Anglin,
I first involved you with the affairs of UK Docks over Sunday working which as far as I know had not occurred until December 2016 although the Council tried to link it to a complaint 4 years ago about compliance.
The officer responsible, Mr G Simmonette:
• tried linking it to a separate complaint;
• made misrepresentations about it;
• did not register that Sunday working had occurred.
This is why I involved you as a witness; you organised the meeting where we where misinformed about the cover in the first place. It appeared that Mr Simmonette was using the a similar method to hide his misdoings over the UK Docks Development as the earlier officer had used over four years ago. Continue reading Mail to Cllr Anglin 8-Aug-17