A Cautionary Tale

The tale below, labours the point about Messrs Haig and Watson, my neighbours at the time, because what they said was written in the minutes of the Tyne Gateway Assn and is best evidence of what was said at that time.  Mr Watson, Cllr Anglin and Principal Planning Officer, Mr Cunningham,  arranged a most important meeting on the afternoon of the 25-Nov-13 and it was more than coincidence that, not only was Planning Portal was down for two weeks following it, we did not receive any authorised the plans at that meeting itself. The plans supposedly seen were not authorised. They imply that the authorised height of the shed at the river end is 18.2m where it should be 15.5m.

By the time the Planning Portal returned, UK Docks with the Council’s blessing,  prepared to resume work on their shed.

A Cautionary Tale
From: mick.dawson@theharbourview.co.uk
Date: 17/09/2021 (05:39:49 PM GMT)
To: friendsofmarketdockpath@gmail.com
Cc: Cllrs Angela Hamilton, David Francis and Sue Stonehouse
Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP Emma, Lewell-Buck MP and MD

Dear Andy,

A Cautionary Tale

Figure 1: Height of landward end = 12.7m (108.8-96.1)

This tale begins two enormous cranes arriving at the Tyne Slipway Co. off River Drive in the first week of September 2013 to erect a large shed. A neighbour in Greens Place asked the Principal Planning Officer what the planned height of shed should be but he did not answer and sent her a copy of how to make a complaint instead.

A day or so later he sent out some copies of drawings given to him by UK Docks, the new owners of the slipway and by this time I had shown an interest and I was sent the copies as well. And the first thing one will notice is that is the upper one has been cropped.

About 10% is missing from the left hand side and same from the foot of the first of the two drawings. The number, 8296/2, one authorised by the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation in 1996 was missing from the foot and some vital dimensions missing from the left side. See figure 1.
W e did not see that detail from 8296/2 (i.e. figure 1) until after they had restarted work on the shed!

The bottom figure was from 8296/1B and it was UK Docks’, not the Council’s archive. The one from the archive was 82961A and it bears the same mistake as 1B, in showing the landward end of the shed as 15.5m when it should be 12.8m.

This was confirmed because work on the shed stopped for about three months and UK Docks could do nothing about it because they had built the landward end of the shed to a height of 15m where the authorised plans said it should be 12.8m. One can tell it was authorised because it bears the authentication stamp of the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation. 1A and 1B do not.

That should have been the end of the argument but first thing the Council did was to refuse to answer the question raised by Melanie and various protestors, i.e. admit we were right and ask UK Docks to build their shed elsewhere.

That the shed is still there is because they repeated the fraudulent misrepresentation made by UK Docks that the shed was the permitted height and it looks like Dave Carr, the Highways Manager from South Tyneside Council, 20-Aug-21, was attempting something similar by telling the friends of Re-open Market Dock that there was never a right of way along the from the steps at Comical Corner to where the path rejoined Long Row, 500m South.

The Cautionary Tail began because we knew that our claims were not allegations and we decided to revive the Tyne Gateway Assn because we thought that the Assn which had many members may be able to get an answer about the planned height of the shed out of the Planning Officer but it was taken over by people with an interest vested in the shed.

It was taken over, with help from Cllrs Anglin and McMillan, by a director (Treasurer) and procurement officer (Chair) for a company that supplied services to dockyards like UK Docks, HB Hydraulics. Cllr Anglin and the Chair of the TGA arranged a meeting the Town Hall on November 25th 2013 where we were told the shed had been approved.

Page 2. First it was said to be legal, not by the Council but by one of the residents, Ken Haig, a director of HD Hydraulics a firm that had contracts with the Ministry of Defence as had owners of UK Docks and the treasurer of the Tyne Gateway Assn (TGA):

KH advised that they had seen the plans which were date stamped 1996, the structure is 15.5m. Proper drawings were on file and there is nothing illegal about the structure.
KH advised that PC was honest and fair.

I’ll leave you to decide whether either Mr Haig  or Peter Cunningham were honest but less than two weeks later, the line that it was legal, was repeated by Councillor Anglin: Michael, I took no minutes as is customary at these informal meetings. For your record I am sure all would agree: The Exec representatives of the Group accepted that the construction had been made legally as per drawings seen. *

Because Cllr Anglin took no minutes, Peter Cunningham could say was compliant with anything he chose, and he chose a drawing that had not been approved: Mr Dawson – once again – I have measured this on site and have copied the 1996 plans across to you twice already (attached again for your use) and I have explained during our meeting that the base and height of the structure are compliant…this is the end of the matter as far as I am concerned. Please do not email me again.

They were not compliant with any approved drawing or plan and it had become obvious that he was being dishonest with us. The reason why I have introduced yet another drawing into the mix is because it was approved by the Planning Manager in October 2013, a month before his Principal Planning Officer lied to us at the meeting in the Town Hall about 8296/1A.

I could see no way round this without raising a complaint and I was aware that the Council’s Complaints could be manipulated for favoured Customers and had a fair idea how it was being done. I thought I could avoid the various pitfalls by deliberate reference to 8296/14 and asked: As the applicant has not discharged condition 2 why is there no retrospective planning application?

A direct question, which he avoided by referring me back to the Chair of the TGA, Mr Graeme Watson and he knew he could get away with this piece of maladministration because he would not be reprimanded by his immediate boss. Much of this is covered in the first few pages of my letter to Melanie, 12-Mar-21, but before I leave it I would like to emphasise the part that the Planning Manager played in transferring centre of attention:
from: a lack of Planning Control in respect of UK Docks’ shed;
to: one about whether the shed had planning permission with the Residents.

In a similar fashion the Council have shifted your argument about the English Coastal Path away:
from: why is the gate still there;
to: there is no right of way.

With the shed, the Council/Mr Atkinson did this by claiming it had been approved, which turned out to be a lie: Approved Drawings, The following are details of the relevant drawings in the Council’s possession. The drawing that was submitted on 11th April 1996 with the application is numbered 8296/1A. That shows the overall height of the structure as 15.5m above the foundation level at the landward end.

In that response, the Planning Manager went on to reinforce the lie:
The dimensions of the steelwork have been checked on site and they are in accordance with the measurements shown on the approved drawings.
It was made to hide the fact that Planning Control had done nothing about the shed being oversize. Some of the ground had been prepared for him by UK Docks telling the local newspaper the Gazette, 9-Sep-13: “All I can say is that we have been through all the controls with the planners, and the work meets all the necessary legal requirements.

Page 3. This was followed a day later with more misinformation about the size of the shed etc.

By the 15th of January 2014, we were well into the second stage of the Council’s Complaint Procedure, the first coming to an abrupt halt when I was referred back to the Chair of the TGA.
That naturally closed or ended when the Planning Manager, Mr Atkinson admitted that we were right about the shed being to tall on the 13-Feb-14 but he had laid many misrepresentations that any combination of them could be used falsely, to accuse us of making allegations. **

I knew that needed to nip them in the bud and I thought I had done this by thanking Mr Atkinson: Thank you also for confirming that the Slipway Shed is not built to the approved 1996 plans.
You will now see why I laboured the point about the approved height on page 1. Mr Atkinson has obviously repeated the lie of the 15th January to Mr Mansbridge in his response to our Petition: The approved dimensions of the steelwork are: Proposed height 15.5m at the River Drive end.

He could do this secure in the knowledge that Mr Mansbridge would be handling the next stage of the complaint and in fact he had already attempted to do this instead of answering questions asked of him at the real stage 2. ***

How this fits into the trail of misinformation is given in my letter to Melanie on Pages 5 and 7, where the Mansbridge Trap is described and I concluded: When they heard we were trying to resurrect the dormant TGA they spotted a weak spot and Cllrs Anglin and McMillan went into action but what they and Messrs Watson and Haig did not realise was that there was a fatal flaw in their scheme. Mr Cunningham had to either to admit we were right about the shed or commit fraud.

There were a few loose ends not covered in that letter and I had thought of writing to Councillor Hamilton but as you are probably aware she was being bullied into silence as a penalty for being honest so I wrote to Councillor Francis, who does not have to kowtow to the local Labour group, on the 12th April to give some more background and after a brief introduction I get to the point straight away:

The reality lies in the fact that they were never told to remove their shed or rebuild it to the correct height in writing otherwise it would have gone. UK Docks would not have have sought permission retrospectively because the approved plans from 1996 would have had to have been produced and that would have proved that the residents were right about it being taller and wider than planned, and to put it bluntly, that both UK Docks and the Council were lying when they said or implied that approval had been granted for the shed we now see.

A few loose ends is a poor description of how the Council corrupt their own complaints procedure to cover over the fact that some of their planning and enforcement officers are in the pockets of a favoured few and there are some who are quite content overwrite plans and complaints to hide these facts.

I have gone into all this in some detail in my letter to Cllr Francis on 12th April 2021, under such the titles as: 71 &72 Greens place, August 2013 – The start of the deception about the shed, Contrived Stage 2, the Trap, the Diversion into a Dead End and the Big Deceit.

The Council, with or without a Chief Executive, realised what that entailed and decided to shoot the messenger and that was me again, before any more of their lies were exposed by my review of the timeline that we shared. I say again because the first attempt was five years ago, when I complained to the Chief Executive that his staff were giving misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman, 8th July 2016.

Page 4. More relevant, now we are in the Autumn of 2021, is the letter I sent to Paula Abbott on 21-June-21 and is now Part 4. I have rather grandly renamed it ‘Slaying the Messenger’ and I will not be quiet till I get an apology from ‘them’ and by them I do not mean Paula. It looks from here that she has been coerced into accusing me of unacceptable behaviour which can be variously described as aggressive, abusive, unreasonable or persistent so that they can absolve themselves if any misdemeanours or criminal activity.

I mean from the likes of Head of Development Services who was responsible for the reply to our Petition in 2014 or the Corporate Lead who was responsible for the reply to my complaint to the Chief Executive that his staff were giving misinformation to the Local Government Ombudsman in 2016.

Part 3, April 2021, concerned Sunday working or the fifth condition and would apply regardless of the height of the shed and was sent to Mr J Rumney of the Council’s Legal Services for information and for him to act upon. It was to advise him that two of his staff were corrupting the Complaints Procedure and how history was being rewritten by one other of the following:

1. complaint or questions not recorded [disregarded];
2. neutered by an unfounded contradiction [contradiction];
3. conflated with an exhausted complaint [conflation];
4. forward pass or diverted into dead end [forward-pass];
5. passed back to a closed conversation or complaint [back-pass].

Mr Simmonette is guilty of 1 and 4 and Mr Burrell of 3 and 5 and the 2nd was implied by both but a far better example of an outright contradiction was provided by the Corporate Lead in her response to my letters to the MP for Berwick and the CEO, 9-June-15. First she accused the good people of South Shields, including myself of making allegations and it does not take much to discover by looking any of the approved drawings to see that not only had the Council lied to the Ombudsman, she had lied to the MP and what was worse she closed her letter with the comment: I hope that this information is useful. Please do not hesitate to share this letter with your constituent.****

Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP did not share the letter and I did not find out about it until January 2016 and only then because the Planning Officer, Gary Simmonette was being evasive about the height of the shed. I actually asked the MP: If Mr Swales provides any new plans to show you that I am wrong in my assessment of the development on River Drive by UK Docks please let me know.

Neither the Chief Executive nor his Corporate Lead could provide any plans because there are none and they got round this by accusing the protestors of making allegations about UK Docks. Mine were about the height but I know others were about the other. One only has to look ay the approved drawing to see that the shed is nearly 3m higher than that authorised.

If you detect any of the above, [disregarded] etc. you will know that you have entered a corrupt complaints procedure and until it is made illegal to lie to the Ombudsman there will be very little that can be done about it.

When I collected my papers from Petter Dunn and Co., a year or so ago, I thought to call in the Journal/Chronicle Offices on the way home to Amble with them but it came to nothing and it transpired that it was a waste of time complaining to the Ombudsman because they are no better than the Planning Authorities who feed them the misinformation in the first place because they conflate a complaint that a complaint is being mishandled with the complaint itself.

Page 5. I was told the Police will not handle a complaint against anyone in any Council Planning Department and meanwhile if one tries to alert anyone in the Press to what is going on they are told that the likes of you and I are making allegations and should be ignored.

As you can see from the evidence given in this letter it was the Council Officers who were lying, not I.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Dawson,
17 September 2021

* to say that the shed was legal to mean it was approved was fraudulent misrepresentation and as a planning officer, Mr Cunningham would have known that.

** Mr Atkinson knew as well as I did that the approved drawings showed that the shed was nearly 3m taller than permitted:

a. see figure 1 from 8296/2 (page 1 of this letter);
b. he did not bring 8296/14 to a meeting expressly held to view it (3 emails:

1. says advice will be sought from the Council’s solicitor – the advice appears to be to remove all reference to the height from the complaint;
2. I think therefore that I am well qualified to pass judgement on the interpretation of drawings of a boatyard shed and raise this issue because you may question on what grounds I can claim that the planned height at the road end of the shed as drawn by Agents for UK Docks is 12.5m – MD;
3. I would like it put on record that these plans were not shown or discussed in any detail at the meeting and only mentioned in passing – MD.

*** Mr Mansbridge needed to remove any record of the original complaint and he did this by introducing 253539 at level 2. The letter was in fact dated 9th of May and was a request that he correct his response to our Petition: In the light of this please consider a correction to the letters sent to the households 32 to 99 Greens Place and all the households in Harbour View a neat device to hide the fact that he had lied to residents and that includes me.

**** the letter is appendix 6 and the Council have refused to release the copy of the main letter to the MP for Berwick or any of the other attachments.

Please draw your own conclusion.

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