Misconduct of Councillor Anglin (part 1)
Thank you for letting me know about the outcome of your meeting with UK docks a few weeks past. Most of the issues raised are of little concern to me especially as I now live out of earshot and UK Docks have promised not to disturb their neighbours on a Sunday.
I have complained about the noise in the past but the complaints procedure is operated so badly by the Council’s Environmental Section that it is unfit for purpose. One could put it down to incompetence but if you look into it, at least where UK Docks is concerned, corruptly might be a better descriptor judging by the racket they got away with on the 13th.
Planning is not much different, but we do have the advantage that the approved drawings show categorically that the shed is larger in all dimensions than the permitted plans allow. I notice that you have been told the differences are only slight:
Planning: While I understand the concerns you have raised about the buildings deviating from the original plans I cannot see any way to resolve this issue. You have said that the building is slightly wider and higher than the original plans but I have not been able to find out anything about why this happened. As I wasn’t a Councillor at the time I was not involved in any of the discussions so can’t confirm whether this was agreed before or after building works were completed and it wouldn’t be possible to reduce the building and it isn’t financially viable to remove and rebuild it.
The differences are not slight and the reason you cannot find out why the shed is much bigger than permitted is because neither the Council nor UK Docks have been honest with you. They both claim that the structure is the correct height by fraudulent misrepresentation of the plans i.e. 15.5m at the landward end. The approved planned height at the landward end is 12.7m at that end as shown by one of two approved drawing from 1996, 8296/2.
I have normally used the Agent’s drawing made available to the public on the 10-Dec-13 because it would have included any approved alterations made since 1996 and the height is not one of them.
Both this and the authorised drawing from 1996 show that the shed is nearly 3m taller than permitted. Anyone who tells you otherwise, to put it bluntly, is lying. This is why one can never get anyone at UK Docks or the Council to say anything other than the differences are only slight.
The Agent’s drawing was produced as part of the discharge of conditions 3 and 4 and approved by the Planning Manager, 14-Oct-2013. Additional provenance was given to the drawing by Customer Advocacy when they said at Stage 3 level of a complaint:- “that drawing 8296/14 was submitted in 2013 for a wholly different purpose and as such, could never supersede the previously approved plans in terms of defining the dimensions of the approved development.”
One can also use either the drawing provided by UK Docks 8296/1B or the drawing favoured by the Planning Office, 8296/1A, to show that the shed is nearly 3m too high as well but one must bear in mind that they show no evidence of having been authorised, presumably because they show both ends to have the same height. In the explanation I gave the Ombudsman I forgot to mention that /1A was not authorised. Looking at it again I wonder why I had not thought of the ‘three is a quarter of twelve not fifteen’ argument before my complaint about Cllr Anglin.
The shed is also nearly 1m wider than planned, a fact they managed to hide from us for two months. That is, until I went and measured it in late November 2013 and told the attendees and the Committee of the Tyne Gateway Assn (TGA) about it in mid December, 16-Dec-2013.
A mistake, I should have made this information available to everyone protesting because the Chair of the TGA was keeping a very tight control on the information, particularly in respect of the width. Cllr Anglin had responded earlier:
Please see below the reply from Peter (Cunningham).
” Hello – I confirmed at our meeting with Mr Dawson and others on 25th
Sept Nov 2013 that I had measured the width and length of the ground floor external footprint and height of the structure and that these dimensions were all in accordance with the attached approved drawing and planning permission.
Councillor Anglin, 19-Dec-13
Why a Principal Planning Officer, Mr Cunningham, was doing the measuring and not the Building Inspector has never been properly explained. I asked Customer Advocacy who was responsible for making sure that buildings were built to plan but they would not tell me; they hurried me along to the Ombudsman. It so happens that Mr Cunningham and Mr Watson, the Chairman of the TGA, managed with the aid of Cllr Anglin to suppress the fact that the shed was wider than planned, till after UK Docks had restarted work on their shed.
The fact that it was wider continued to be suppressed for a further three weeks and it was not until the 28-Jan-14 that the Planning Manager conceded that the width was 13.1m wide i.e. nearly a meter wider than planned. By then UK Docks had fitted their overhead crane and changed the use of the shed. That they could fit it, is a debatable point and rests on the opinion of the same Planning Manager, now retired, so we can do nothing about it because he did not refer it to the Planning Committee for change of use. Planning Committees are there to reduce the temptation of corruption.
In the same email, notice the PROTECT, we were told that; “Following a search of our archived file the only drawings that we have that are stamped ‘Approved by Tyne and Wear Development Corporation’ are 8296/2 and 8296/4. 8296/1A and 8296/1B are consistent with these two stamped drawings in terms of overall dimensions.” They are only consistent if one accepts that the river end has a planned height of 15.5m making the landward end 12.8m. Drawing 8296/2 as explained above gives an approved height of 12.7m.
We were also told that; “(8296/14) You explain that you have measured the height from this drawing as 15.6m, and you seem to have assumed that is the riverside elevation, and have adjusted for the gradient of the slipway and concluded that the height at the River Drive side should be in the order of 3m less. In fact the 15.6m height is the height to River Drive and the height on the river side is some 3m greater.” The drawing is of the river gable end; boats enter the shed from the river!
My response to the email on 3-Feb-13, should have settled the matter but as you can see from the rest of this letter he was acting deceitfully. Telling us one thing and his bosses another, a binary choice: the river end height =15.5m (true), the landward end = 15.5m (false).
To return to Cllr Anglin’s choice; the crossing out is my correction and as you can see, from the evidence given on page 1 and the top of this page, the dimensions were not in accordance with any approved plan when the structure was measured. Cllr Anglin could have asked me to verify what I was telling him about the width and I would willingly have provided it. I would also have explained why the shed was 3m too high because the Agent’s drawing of the river gable end had been made available by 16-Dec-13. It landed on Mr Cunningham’s desk on the 20-Sep-13.
The width is very clearly shown on all plans as 12.2m, not 12.9m as reported in the response to our Petition and in Stage 2 responses.
So, for Mr Cunningham to say; “that these dimensions were all in
accordance with the planning permission” was very obviously a lie, especially as he claims to have measured it himself, and found it to be 13.1m. Cllr Anglin set off to find out whether the shed was the correct height and we find, a month later that, not only were being misinformed about the height but also being misinformed about the width.
I thought during the meeting that he was lying to cover for the negligence of the building inspector but it was to cover for himself. A building inspector would have been duty bound to have told the Enforcement Officer whereas Mr Cunningham could keep the variations to himself.
He and Mr Wilson, Director of UK Docks, had not reckoned on us being able to measure the width at the footings because the pillars had been made vertical. Nor had they reckoned on the fact that the gradient gave scale to any side elevations of the shed thus revealing the fraud about the planned height of the road end.
The meeting would have had some credibility if Cllr Anglin had not agreed with Mr Cunningham to drop Condition 2 from the agenda, and not made it informal. It would of had more credibility still if some authorised drawings had been produced but none were.
They were kept from our sight until the 28-Jan-14. That is the reason for the statements in bold on page 2.
What I particularly resented about Cllr Anglin’s summary of the meeting was his inclusion of me with the other two representatives. If the meeting had been formal I would have asked them to declare their interest. They were director and procurement officer for HB Hydraulics at that time.
They and the Councillors, do not forget that Cllr MacMillan also attended, may have been happy to lie about about shed being ‘legal’ but I was not.
The meeting had lost its original purpose; to establish whether the shed had approval, and was used instead to cover over a Planning Officer’s misconduct i.e. he had failed to disclose the breaches in planning permission after measuring the structure.
I was aware that the Council had misled the Local Government Ombudsman (Ombudsman) to cover over misapplication of planning procedures and guidelines where two developers had built extensions to their properties without planning permission. Both the developers at 71 and 72 Greens Place had built what they wanted rather than what had been permitted but my complaints were ignored.
The variation from plan at 72 was said by the building inspector to be not material when it was not his decision to make. The two separate dormers had become one big one.
The main variation in the case of 71 was hidden by the Council switching the complaint type from FUL to HFUL. The developer had reverted to his original plan and although we told the Council about it they took no action. This happened while my complaint was with the Ombudsman so they said I would have to submit a new complaint and take it through the various levels with the council before it would considered.
It was clear that the Ombudsman was liaising with the Council rather than me.
I was contemplating writing to David Milliband MP about it when work started on the ‘shed’. The developers of 71 and 72 Greens Place were the no other than the HB Hydraulics staff mentioned above; Mr Ken Haig and Mr Graeme Watson, Treasurer and Chair of the TGA
respectively. The Building Inspector, Mr Mike Telford, was responsible for both these sites as well as the development by UK Docks on River Drive.
I could see that something similar was going on when UK docks were allowed to restart work on their shed in January 2014 after a four month stoppage and I was anxious to get the work stopped before it proceeded too far and certainly before the Ombudsman got into the act. As events have shown the Council made sure the shed was use before I had passed the first hurdle.
No surprise then, when the complaint, 10-Jan-14 went in that it would be intercepted by Mr Cunningham to be improperly processed. Central to the complaint was;
Examination of this drawing number (8296/14) gives a detail of a beam (portal column) width 0.686mtres, with which the height and width of the north elevation can be gauged. The north elevation (river end) is 15.6m high with a width of 12.2m.
Above, I explained why drawing 8296/14 was so important and why I used it. It was the drawing which convinced me that Mr Cunningham was being dishonest about the height. On the full drawing the gable is drawn to a scale (1:100) and it is actually 16.3cm tall. If you do the maths it gives 12.7m for the landward end.
That Mr Cunningham was allowed to answer the complaint instead of it going through the proper procedures is central to the corruption at the heart the Council’s Planning Office. He did not answer the question, “as the applicant has not discharged condition 2 why is there no retrospective planning application?” but repeated the misinformation he gave us at the meeting.
“The queries that you raise are not new, indeed I have been repeating my response to them for some time now, and you will recall that I explained the planning aspect of the Council’s position to you regarding this development during our meeting.” – Principal Planning Officer, 13-Jan-14
The main thing to note is that he did not register the complaint so there is no record of it. This device is the first indication that he has no intention of responding properly to it. He then refers me back to the Chair of the TGA, whom I trust less than Cllr Anglin. This sort of referral is standard for someone passing the buck and I believe you have encountered similar problems with your enquiries as well:
“May I therefore suggest that you speak with the Chair of the residents group in respect of the points that you have raised below, as these have already been discussed and explained. If you are still not satisfied with the Council’s response then you should use the Council’s complaints procedure..” – Principal Planning Officer, 13-Jan-14
I can see the back pass (to the TGA or to ‘complaints’) for what it is so I asked him to refer the complaint to someone who could answer the question (a progress from stage 1 to 2) but the response from his manager was worse again. He took the opportunity to repeat the fraudulent misinformation about the height as well as reinforcing the denial:
“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.” – Planning Manager, 15-Jan-14
This was such a blatant lie that it would be dismissed as such by anyone looking at the drawing. It shows both ends of the shed to have the same height which could only be true if the roof had the same gradient as the slipway. The major piece of misinformation, is of course, the following statement:
“The dimensions of the steelwork have been checked on site and they are in accordance with the measurements shown on the approved drawings. The variation in the angle of the pillars is not considered to be material. – Planning Manager, 15-Jan-14
Mr Cunningham could have been excused for incompetence but not now with the Planning Manager repeating the lie. It has become apparent that they get away with this by corrupting the complaints procedure and ultimately misleading the Ombudsman.
The Planning Manager did not register the complaint either. In choosing to continue to hide the truth about the shed, the Planning Manager avoided, like Mr Cunningham a few days before;
• having to tell the Enforcement Officer that the shed failed to meet the 2nd condition;
• having to tell UK Docks to stop work on the shed;
There was a complaint registered on my behalf in April 2014 but as you can see from the description; “see email to planning 14/1/14. Mr Dawson asking various questions relating to the ongoing development at the slipway, River Drive, South Shields.”
As you can see there is nothing left of the original complaint made 3 months before. I was not informed about the Job Number and this is significant because it meant that his concession that the shed was too high, and when and in what context, was not recorded.
This meant that correspondence could be taken out of context to perpetuate the lie. The significance of this should not be underestimated and it lies at the heart of a corrupted complaints procedure:
35. In January 2014 the Council wrote to Mr Dawson about this…. Since then the Council has consistently told Mr Dawson the shed is the correct height. – Ombudsman, 15-Apr-15
It meant the Planning Manager could bury inconvenient truths and hide his own and Mr
Cunningham’s disgraceful behaviour. After I had seen his response to our Petition I complained to the author, Mr Mansbridge, about their conduct, but he ignored it. In fact he turned out to be as bad as his planning staff because i n his response to our Petition he said; “The approved dimensions of the steelwork are: Proposed height 15.5m at the River Drive end.” This we know to be untrue. The fraudulent misrepresentation of the height has reappeared in his stage 2 responses as well; “The height of the steelwork at River Drive is clearly marked as 12.5m+3m (total 15.5m).”
Before I leave Mr Mansbridge’ part in this charade I will remind you that I took up his invitation to view the Agent’s drawing and he failed to produce it at a meeting on 8-Jul-14, specially arranged to discuss it! Not quite a wasted journey because I told the company assembled that the drawing produced by the Planning Manager, 8296/1A, showed both ends to be the same height.
This was the same drawing said to have been produced at the meeting arranged by Cllr Anglin 7 months earlier. The height was not mentioned at all in the Council’s third stage response nor in the Ombudsman’s first draught but what should pop up when I pointed out to her that she really ought to take the variation in height into account but; “In January 2014 the Council wrote to Mr Dawson about this.
It said the overall structure on the plans is 15.5 metres at the land end.” I had just told her the approved height was about 15.5m at the other or river end of the shed. One of us was lying and if you look closely at the argument on page 2 you will see that it is not me.
When I received an unsolicited, but not unexpected, email from Customer Advocacy which I have attached, it became clear to me that I needed some legal advice. The email mainly looks at 3 items of correspondence, none of which are complaints:
- 4th Dec 15 to Mr Simmonette, advising him that the shed is 3m taller than planned;
- 9th Jun 15 (to clarify a misinterpretation in the letter from the MP 1-Jun-15). The MP was not specific about which end of the shed had the approved height;
- 15th Jul 15 request for Screen Prints 274396. Notice that Alison has given a Feedback Reference number so the job, prints for 248789 an 253539, was completed quickly and much to my satisfaction after I explained what had gone wrong with my request. If the original complaint made 10-Jan-14 (248789) had been treated so efficiently the shed would probably not be there now. As you can see from the responses, page 4, it was ‘binned’.
I found Mr Andrew Tilbury, a partner at Peter Dunn Solicitors, and he was extremely helpful after I gave him the background to Alison’s email. He looked through the correspondence I had with the Council and the Ombudsman and advised me that it was not a planning matter at all, more a criminal fraud case but the police were unlikely to act because they would say it was a planning matter.
He also hinted that to pursue it through the Civil Court was not an option but he did agree with me that South Tyneside Council had mislead the Local Government Ombudsman and I have attached his reply.
Alison’s email was not unexpected; I had been waiting on a response from the Case Officer, Mr Simmonette who was in charge of the second phase, to a complaint that he was backing the extension of a structure built without planning permission. I had first written to him in September about the height of the shed but he had not replied. I had also been waiting for a responses from the MP from Berwick for 4 months.
The second case is different. I had written to Anne Marie and copied the Chief Executive explaining that the shed was in fact too high; “You have not specified that the stated height (15.5m) is of the river end of the shelter and it is likely that, Mr Swales, if he follows the arguments of the Planning Manager and the Head of Development Services before him, will say it refers to the road end.” As you can see Alison was instructed to reply; “even though at that time you had received complaint responses from both the Council and the Ombudsman.”
The first two items are illustrations of the misuse of the Ombudsman’s Service by South Tyneside Council and the last points to the first step on the path to it.
Notice Ms Hayton has not given a Job number yet she says in the last paragraph that I may request the Monitoring Officer to reconsider her decision. That is the catch 22, whoever picks up the complaint is hardly likely to apologise for her repetition of the misrepresentation; “The Ombudsman found no fault in how the Council determined the permitted height of the landward end of the development was 12.5 metres plus 3 metres.” in paragraph 6 nor are they likely to apologise for the two in paragraph 5;
• The Council later accepted that the measurements as taken in 2013 were incorrect;
• the width of the building was just less than 1 metre wider . . . . and considered the degree
of departure from the grant of planning permission was “non-material”.
I realise that this raises more questions about the shed on River Drive than it solves but it does give some perspective on why nobody will give you straight answer about the height of it.
Perhaps we could ask under the Freedom of Information Act; “What is the planned height of the UK Docks slipway Enclosure on River drive?” and resubmit the complaint below again. We can blame Cllr Anglin and his pals for it being put in the bin.