Alternative Council Complaints Procedure

Big snakes and Little Ladders
Initiation (Stage 1)

When the first answers to an enquiry or question appear to be somewhat away from the point and you come away from the phone feeling a little bit cheated, know that you have entered the alternative complaints procedure (ACP) and you will need a lot of luck to survive.
If you have sat in on a planning committee meeting where they tell you that only one person (or the number of people that have been allowed to speak at the meeting) has (have) complained then you know that the odds are now stacked against the complainant(s).
If the foreman of the planning committee asks for a site visit and the complainant is not invited to attend as well you will know that the decision will be made in favour of the developer regardless of the complaint.
If they contradict what you have said, say development complies with the plans when it obviously does not, or appear in any way to have misrepresented what you were saying, know that you have been directed into a region of the planning process that is beset with sink holes and traps which is like a game of snakes and ladders but in reality is rigged in such a way that it is scarcely resembles the child’s game. You will find that you will be invited to progress to Stage 2 but in reality you will be no further forward than you were at the beginning of this Stage or Initiation.
The difference between the alternative complaints procedure (ACP) and normal snakes and ladders is that, as one progresses through each stage the number of faces on your dice is reduced as does the number of ladders while the number of snakes increases.

Stage 2

They say your complaint will be passed to a senior manager to carry out an investigation. They will say that person will not have had any prior involvement in investigating your complaint but be assured they will have been thoroughly briefed by the person responsible for the planning staff who have shown a dereliction of duty.
They’ll send you a letter to acknowledge that your complaint has moved to Stage 2 and then send you a full response. The target response time is 15 working days but even if they hit their target you will find you have progressed no further than you did in Initiation and you will be moved to:

Stage 3

The Chief Executive will appoint a senior colleague to investigate your complaint on his behalf and you will find nothing left of your original observation or complaint. That person will respond with some legalese, non sequiturs, opinions or what ever, but be assured they will not have provided you with any evidence to back those opinions. You will then find you have progressed no further than you did in Initiation and you will be invited to write to the Local Government Ombudsman.
After the first draft you realise that the Ombudsman is not responding to your complaint about the Council but mirroring the last Stage of the Council’s response. Your complaint has been overwritten by a similar process that the Council use in their Stages 2 and 3 so you refer the case to an MP but she is told: “The matters and allegations raised by your constituent are well documented and have been subject to a number of enquiries from Mr X and other local residents over a lengthy period of time.”

Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) – 1  (Stage 4).

Whatever you have said to the Ombudsman you will find that some of the misrepresentations that appeared in Stages 1 – 3 have reappeared and the Ombudsman does not uphold your complaint.

You have in effect progressed no further than you did in Initiation and that is the where the Council hope that you have given up and they use the Ombudsman’s faulty findings to deflect any Enquirers.

LGO – 2 (Stage 5)

The most obvious misrepresentations made by the Council to the first Inspector are pointed out to a Second Inspector but they are ignored and your appeal is dismissed as he says that your appeal remains that of your original complaint.
The fact that your original complaint has been over written by the the Councils misinformation (lies) and you are still no further forward than Initiation.
The case goes to MP again but she is told: “Unfortunately, the Ombudsman’s decision cannot be re-visited.”
When pressed to provide evidence the Council say the complaints procedure has been exhausted both internally and externally.
When you complain that Council Employees have, to all intents and purposes called you a liar it is ignored and they ignore it because they can.

It is a system designed to favour developer’s money-laundering schemes and was probably developed by some of the more corrupt Councils such as the one where Grenfell Tower is located but as you can see, it can be readily adapted to schemes that are not, such as UK Docks.

~~~~~~~ Then why was it used for UK Docks ? ~~~~~~~

Planning Issues in South Shields