Fallout from revision of S and C – Part 12

Cycles of Deceit – Fallout

I could see that the Ombudsman had been persuaded to ignore the evidence that I had provided her to show that UK Dock’ shed on their slipway off River Drive was about 3m taller than planned.

Meanwhile the email that I had sent to the MP for South Shields in March 2015 had wended its way to the MP for Berwick but he was standing down and it was passed to Anne-Marie Trevelyan which resulted in the Council’s Corporate Lead accusing us of making allegations (cycles 1-10).

I did to try to write to a Solicitor in early 2016 to write a letter to the Chief Executive but decided after the facts were assembled, it made sense to send it straight to the Chief Executive, that rather then send it to the solicitor to forward on to him. I was quite pleased as I had reduced the 12 pages my first draught to four pages of well reasoned arguments explaining how the planning officer Mr Simmonette had covered up the wrongdoing of the planning and building control officers in late 2013 by giving misinformation to Customer Advocacy linked to the misinformation given to the LGO by an officer before him:-

I ask you (CEO) to look again at this because there is a clear contradiction between what the Council were telling the LGO and what is known. Why your staff should misrepresent the facts to the LGO is for you to determine. That they have misinformed the LGO should be admitted and corrected and that is what this letter is about.

Shooting the Messenger for the Second Time

Mr Swales did not want to admit that his staff had lied to the Ombudsman, nor correct the lies either, and Mr Lewis, the second Inspector’s, solution to the problem was to conflate the complaint that the shed was was oversize and the Council had done nothing about it, with the complaint that the Council had misled the Ombudsman to hide the fact that the shed was 2.7m taller than planned.

The Council’s method of hiding it was to falsely accuse others and I of making allegations about it’s height and that was executed by the Council’s Corporate Lead in  Appendix 6 attached to a letter to the MP for Berwick, 25th June 2015:-

“The matters and allegations raised by your constituent are well documented and have been subject to a number of enquiries from Mr Dawson and other local residents over a lengthy period of time.

His option was to instruct someone to misapply ‘Section F’ of a staff code and the Council’s Corporate Lead was the obvious choice for South Tyneside Council’s second attempt to shoot the messenger:-

“I now consider this matter closed. Should you continue to repeat historic complaint issues in your contacts, we will consider imposing formal restrictions on your contact with the Council.

Corporate Lead, 1st August 2016.

Like Messrs Cunningham and Atkinson two years before she did not register or record my complaint, theirs being that they failed to register that UK Docks had not built the shed to an approved plan and the Council had done nothing about it and her failure being to register, the one and only complaint, that the Council had misled the Ombudsman.

As there was no audit trail or record of the history of each complaint, each story could be rewritten by those who followed. In the case of the first it meant that in response to our Petition the shed was said to have approval and in the second it meant that the Corporate Lead could repeat herself and she did.

1

Two months later, the email sent to Customer Advocacy on 3rd September having been passed back to her, said:- “After considering your letter, I can again advise that there is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The email to Customer Advocacy (CA) referred to the copy of the letter sent to Mrs Johnson on the 2nd September 2016 and they should be able to provide a copy but I would prefer one to visit my critique of her handiwork before I address its reappearance under a different guise in April 2021. In the intervening period there were a number of issues:-

1. 2017: 17-Jan: conflation of breach of condition 5, 18-Dec-16 and the earlier breach of condition 2 when the shed was first erected by the Council’s Corporate Lead;

2. 2017, 26-May: letter to the Chief Executive about the appalling conduct his Corporate Lead and the planning officer in charge of ST/0461/14/FULwhich remains unanswered;

3. 2017, 8-Aug: letter to Cllr Anglin re ST/0461/14/FUL which CA conflate with the original complaint of 10th January so that it remains unanswered. Laid off to Customer Advocacy who filed it away saying 11-Sep-16:-

4. 2017, 6-Sep: the Council told the MP for South Shields that the LGO found against me and referred me to Mr M Harding the Monitoring Officer;

5. 2018, 2-Feb: list of unanswered emails from CA, re 17-Jan-17 letter;

6. 2018, 19-Sep: complaint to Monitoring Officer about the conduct of Cllr Anglin;

7. 2018, 26-Oct: Further complaint to Monitoring Officer;

8. 2018, 12-Dec: response from a Council solicitor re Cllr Anglin where she repeats much of the misinformation given to the Ombudsman by the Council in 2015, decoded on the 14th;

9. 2019, 9-Apr: letter to Monitoring Officer re response to the complaint about Cllr Anglin. It was never answered because he was presented
with the same choice that was presented to the Planning Manager five
years before;

10. 2019, 1-May: UK Docks claim that they had got permission for their shed, retrospectively;

11. 2019, 7-May: email to Monitoring Officer about UK Docks claim, remains unanswered;

12. 2019, 19-Jun: email/letter to Mr M Harding Head of Legal Services about Gil Hayton’s response in December 2018 and UK Docks claim for their shed:- How much longer will it be before South Tyneside Council will admit that UK Docks have not put in a retrospective planning application for their slipway enclosure? Not five and a half years, I hope.

~ ~ There was no reply and not any ‘out of office’ replies.

2

13. 2019, 17-Sep: email to Building Control – laid off to planning
Hi Planning, Please see attached and email below which I believe was
meant for planning
Regards, Debbie Graham Operations &
Partnership Officer

14. 2019, 17-Sep: evasion, back to planning v building control and September 2013

15. 2019, 25-Sep: Cllr Francis advised me that Ms Robason was the new Monitoring Officer;

17. 2019, 5-Dec: email to the Monitoring Officer, Dishonesty at theTown Hall;

18. 2019, 11-Dec: re Dishonesty at the Town Hall I confirm safe receipt and that I will not consider the content of your email and attachments.
– which fits the pattern of responses dictated by CA, 18-Jan-18;

19. 2019, 19-Dec: admission that the Council had not received a retrospective planning application from UK Docks was spoilt by saying:-
The Council has recognised that the development of the shed on the site is unauthorised but concluded some time ago, in accordance with the Constitution, that no enforcement action would be taken as this was not in the public interest as there would be no change in the level of perceived harm suffered. This decision and the reasoning behind it was communicated to residents by the Council.

A repeat of the communication made in 2014 by Mr Mansbridge in his response to our Petition, 2-May 14:- “I have concluded that the development as constructed is acceptable on its planning merits. It would not therefore be expedient for the Council to take enforcement action.

In the same response one will see he also repeated the misrepresentation that the shed had been built to the approved height. Height was never mentioned in the seventh and eight cycles of deceit. Apart from the first cycle of deceit which was about the width, the rest were made to hide the fact that the shed is taller than planned and that was because it was realised that while UK Docks would get permission to lengthen a slightly wider shed there was no chance that they would get permission for a much one taller one.

They were probably advised that there was also no chance that they would permission retrospectively and so they took the risk and started work on it in September 2013 but someone like myself in the planning office who understood plans and drawings, put a stop on the construction for nearly three months and it was only restarted after the meeting in November 2013, organised by Cllr Anglin and the Chair of the Tyne Gateway Assn that work on the shed restarted.

All the measurements and all the available plans, drawings and relevant documents must have been available to the planning officers by mid September 2013 because they had forced UK Docks to stop work on their shed but the Principal Planning Officer had chosen to present an unapproved drawing containing an error in a vital dimension implying that the structure had approval when it had none at a meeting in November.

He had been given a chance when the formal complaint in to Planning Enquiries to make amends in January 2014 but chose otherwise. His fraudulent misrepresentation of the plans was kept alive until UK Docks got permission to lengthen it in February 2016 and it looks like the cover up was continued until December 2019 and by that time the position of Monitoring Officer had passed to Ms Robason and it looks like the same people who were happy to lie to the Ombudsman were more than happy to mislead her as well.

Shooting the Messenger for the Third Time.

Within a few days of of the publication of Shed and Corruption Part 2, which detailed how the Council had corrupted their own complaints procedure, someone had spotted the way things were going and I received a Contact Restrictions Notice on the 29th April 2021, along with a copy of the Complaints Policy 2019v1.5 from Customer Advocacy. Apparently they had relaxed the misuse of Section F on August 18 2018 though Alison’s list fails to mention any correspondence from that date until 2020.

It was another misuse of the rules as Customer Advocacy would have known that there had only been one complaint about South Tyneside Council giving misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The first contact restrictions notice or ‘shooting the messenger’ was issued because Mr Swales was caught in a bind because he was asked to produce evidence that the shed had been approved and he could not, we were therefore falsely accused of making allegations about the shed’s height amongst other things and the second was the misuse of Section F of some staff code because he did not want to admit that some of his staff were giving misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The third personal attack on me was authorised by whoever was left in charge of South Tyneside Council as Mr Swales had retired and not been replaced. One can only conclude that, that the person left in charge wished to make sure that one of the biggest skeletons in the Council’s cupboard remained there until the post of Chief Executive had been filled.

That skeleton was the enclosure or shed covering the slipway off River Drive, South Shields, and owned by UK Docks and it was there because of the fraudulent misrepresentation made about its height given to the Council by them in September 2013 and the Council repeating it in cycles of deceit until until they had given misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman rather accept a request that the shed be removed.

Rebuilding it to the correct height had not been an option since January 2014.

M Dawson,
4th April 2022

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