Threat Actioned, 5-Oct-16

The Threat-> written on behalf of the Chief Executive of South Tyneside Council. The response 2nd September was ignored.

She did not register the complaint that the Council had given misinformation to the Ombudsman so she could ignore my response to her letter of 1-Aug-16 sent a month later. She lifted this practice from the planners who wish to hide breaches of planning control. She was also trying to hide the fact that the Council had misled the Ombudsman.
What follows is a dissection of Mrs Johnson’ claim that her colleagues had not misled the Ombudsman. My Reference,  248789:

South Tyneside Council                 Date: 5 October 2016
Mr Dawson                              Our Ref: CX/253539
Greens Place
Wear NE33 2AQ

Corporate Lead – her letter, 5-Oct-16

She did not register the complaint that the Council had given misinformation to the Ombudsman so she could ignore my response to her letter of 1-Aug-16 sent a month later. She lifted this practice from the planners who wish to hide breaches of planning control. She was trying to hide the fact that the Council had misled the Ombudsman.
What follows is a dissection of Mrs Johnson’ claim that her colleagues had not misled the Ombudsman. My Reference, 248789:

South Tyneside Council                        Date: 5 October 2016
Mr Dawson                                     Our Ref: CX/253539
Greens Place
Wear NE33 2AQ

Dear Mrs Johnson – not sent as it would have been ignored. *

Dissection of response to claim that STC has not deceived the Ombudsman.

The first thing to record is that when I wrote to the Chief Executive about his staff giving misinformation etc. to the Local Government Ombudsman (Ombudsman) it was in reference to Job No. 248789 but your reply addressed 253539.

Dear Mr Dawson

I am writing in response to your letter dated 2 September 2016, which I received on my return to work 12 September 2016. I can confirm that I am authorised to respond to you on behalf of the Council in the consideration of your complaint regarding the boat shed at UK Docks.
The complaint reference numbers you have quoted both refer to this matter; 253539 refers to the more formal responses to you at stages 2 and 3 of our complaints procedure.

You were writing on behalf of the Chief Executive to cover up the fact that there was no need to escalate the complaint from the first stages of 248789 as the Planning Manager had conceded in February 2014 that the shed was nearly 3m taller than permitted.
The reason for the switch to Job No 253539 from 248789 was because the earlier one had naturally ended with the concession made by the Planning Manager and the need for the Council to hide the fact that the shed was actually taller than planned. Building Control were due to ‘sign off’ the shed a couple of weeks later.
UK Docks knew their shed was too tall because the frames were bigger than those permitted according to the drawing attached to ST/1146/13/COND. It was drawn in August 2013, approved in October and seen by the residents in December 2014 and I reminded Planning about it, 10-Jan-14, just after work on the shed restarted.

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.

Misinformation of this kind is is deliberate. To put it bluntly, it was a lie to tell the Ombudsman the shed had been approved when it had not. The senior planning officer also had to change the sequence of events to make his story fit – see paragraphs 21 and 35 of her findings. The public meeting was held after the Planning Manager had conceded that our assessment about the height was correct.

The Ombudsman requested copies of the Council’s responses to your complaint, which were provided to her. The Ombudsman considered those documents, along with your complaint to them and made their decision based on that information.

They provided documents that had been discarded in December 2013 by the planners else they could have been accused of fraudulent misrepresentation. I had sent her the plans approved by Planning Manager in October 2013, 8296/14. The drawing that I used in my observation that the shed had not been built to plan and no enforcement action had been taken.

They did not make any further enquiries of the Council and you are aware of their decision. The issue of the height of the shed was dealt with in the Council’s stage 2 response to your complaint and then also discussed further with you at a meeting in July 2014.

The issue of the height was not dealt with a Stage 2 nor was anything else for that matter. Drawings with errors were reintroduced after they had been discarded in stage 1 – see fraudulent misrepresentation above. Stage 2 was a creation needed to fill a gap in a corrupt procedure, it served no other purpose other than to present a new complaint, with the misrepresentation about the height to the Ombudsman – see the switch in job numbers above. The Council’s last stage report does not mention the height at all.
The meeting in July 2014 was arranged to view 8296/14 but the Planning Manager did not bring it. He did bring a full copies of 8296/1A and 8296/2 and they showed the landward end of the shed to be either 15.5m or 12.7m respectively. Both cannot reflect the planned height.
The 15.5 dimension at the landward end was an error on 1A but the other drawing, 8296/2 was approved and it showed 12.7m. It was authorised by the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation in 1996 and the one I referred to when I thanked him for conceding to us on the height, 4-Mar-14.

As the complaint has exhausted the corporate complaints procedure, the Council would not reconsider the issue afresh as it does not materially change the complaint. I therefore consider the Local Government Ombudsman’s decision final.

What do you mean when you say the complaint has exhausted the complaints procedure. By saying that, you are avoiding the question first put to planning on the 10th January 2014; As the shed is nearly 3m taller than permitted why have UK Docks not been asked to apply for permission retrospectively? The Planning manager had conceded that it was taller about a month later. The residents then held a meeting and then asked that the shed be removed or the Council talk with us. Until either of those two events happen you cannot say the complaint has been exhausted. We are still waiting.

I refer you to my letter of 1 August 2016 to you, in which I advised you of the restrictions which could be placed on your contact with the Council should you continue to raise this matter, in accordance with our policy on unreasonable and persistent complainants.
Your letter of 1-Aug-16, was in response to my letter to the Chief Executive about the conduct of his Staff and the way they had handled the complaint in giving misinformation to the Ombudsman I needed to give him some examples it which you have completely ignored.

I questioned your authority for the post because Stages 2 and 3 were created by people directly under his command. You had already compromised yourself in Appendix 6 of a letter you sent to Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP about Residents making allegations about UK Docks when in fact it was you making allegations against the good citizens of South Shields. I asked to see the full letter to check that no more misinformation had been given to the MP for Berwick but my request was declined.

Following your further letter to myself and the email sent to Michaela Green (nee Hamilton), former stage 3 complaint investigator, I am writing to advise you that my current view is that your behaviour in respect of this complaint is unreasonable.

In my email to Michaela I said; “She has done exactly as my solicitor predicted she would do, she said I had submitted repeated complaints”, Michaela had married and moved on and the person who replaced her would have known exactly how many complaints about Council staff giving misinformation to the Ombudsman had been sent. It was one and it was entirely reasonable as I explained first to the Chief Executive 7-Jul-16 and then to you 2-Sep-16. I forwarded the second to Michaela a day later. It appears that her team were told not to action it because they passed it back to you. In my letter to the Chief Executive I requested a new complaint you did not register it, you misapplied Section F sanctions instead.*

This is because you have:

•submitted repeated complaints, essentially regarding the same issue, after our complaints process has been exhausted,

You were deliberately confusing a complaint with a direct question and I will ask it again; why if the shed is nearly 3m taller than the approved height is it still standing?*

•attempted to have the complaint reconsidered in ways that are incompatible with our adopted complaints procedure, or with good practice,

It may be incompatible with your practice but not with good practice*

•refused to accept the decision of the Council or Local Government Ombudsman, by arguing points of detail.

If the Council had accepted the fact that the structure had been built nearly 3 meters taller than planned and a meter wider than planned before UK Docks restarted work on it in January 2014 there would have been no complaint and no reason to refer to the Ombudsman. The Council have only themselves to blame for the waste of time spent and I think UK Docks will agree me on that. They could have spent the time better by recommissioning one of the shipyards for which the Council are trying to find a use and retained some respect on South Tyneside.

For this reason, we have now placed the following restriction on your contact with the Council:
• We will not acknowledge or respond to any issues that have already been the subject of investigation by the Council, or by the Local Government Ombudsman.

You mean you will not acknowledge the fact that the Council are content for their Planners to give misinformation/misrepresentation to the Ombudsman and for them to accept it so that complaints are not upheld.

Any such correspondence from you will be read and placed on file, but we will not acknowledge or respond to it We will however ensure that any new issues you raise are dealt with appropriately, but you will only receive a response to any new and substantive points of complaint you make.
These restrictions on your contact will come into effect immediately.

We will review the restrictions in six months’ time and the Customer Advocacy Team will keep a record of the fact that we have applied these measures.
If you have concerns that I have provided incorrect information in this letter and you wish to request a review of my decision, you should contact Mike Harding, Head of Legal Services, by writing to him at the address below: Town Hall and Civic Offices Westoe Road South Shields Tyne and Wear NE33 2RL

You have already conflated the complaint with the way the complaint about the way it was handled and it would be reasonable to assume you consulted the Legal Services before you first said,1-Aug-16; There is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman.
I did not wast my time writing to Mr Harding as it appeared that he and you, with the Chief Executive’s blessing have devised this scheme to suppress the fact that a Senior Planning Officer was lying to the Ombudsman and he would apply the same restrictions as you had just done.

Yours sincerely
Hayley Johnson
Corporate Lead Strategy and Performance

Yours sincerely
Mick Dawson

I had written to Mr Harding, 9-Apr-19 but he never answered. It was not about these indiscretions but about a Council Solicitor repeating the major misrepresentations given to the Ombudsman and it should still be on file. It was a complaint about Councillor Anglin and his part in assisting the Principal Planning Officer passing off unauthorised drawings, with errors, as authorised ones.
He also walked away when we tried to get him involved with our complaints about Sunday working and the shed extension. He should have walked away when the Chair of the Tyne Gateway Assn invited him and Cllr McMillan to what should have been an Extraordinary General Meeting. He did not and that is why the Council are now in a mess of their own making.

* Good Practice:- registering the complaint and answering it honestly.

Bad Practice:- 1) not registering the complaint and
2) passing it back to a previous stage – back pass;
3) passing it on without addressing the content – forward pass;
4) merging it and the complaint with how it was handled – conflation;
5) giving a response to another complaint – overwriting the complaint;
6) ignoring it.
~~

Planning Issues in South Shields