Shed and Corruption – Part 7: An Aversion to Retrospective Planning

This first appeared in January 2021 as Retrospective Planning Fears and was published in June with a new title.  It was originally written because the promise of a response to my letter of the 24-Dec-20 never materialised:- Dear Nicola, My email started to grow like Topsy when I started to look back at the number of times that my questions/complaints about the height of the shed were referred to Customer Advocacy and especially how many times the responses were accompanied by misrepresentations of various kinds.

Retrospective Planning Fears
From: mick.dawson@theharbourview.co.uk
Date: 27/01/2021 (17:59:57 BST)
To: Nicola Robason
Cc: Melanie Todd, Alison Hoy, Hayley Johnson, Gill Hayton (Solicitor)

2 Attachments:  toNR27-Jan-21.pdf (77 KB)
                toHLS09apr19s.pdf (40 KB)

Dear Nicola,

An email of a couple of thousand words is unmanageable for an email and what I have to say about retrospective planning of rather the lack of it takes a bit more than that so it has been converted to a letter in pdf format so that it is easier to share.

Nos 71 and 72 Greens place made me aware that South Tyneside Council were misusing the Local Government Ombudsman to cover for bad planning decisions and other misdemeanours but I was not sure how it was being done. The simplest device is to fail to register the complaint at all so there is no record of it to refer back to, the result being that you have to start again through each stage until you get to the Ombudsman and where you are contradicted so the case is not upheld and I hope have explained that in the attached letter ‘An Aversion to Retrospective Planning’.

To do this, misinformation has to be passed from stage to stage and a good example has been attached to illustrate this, toNR27-Jan-21.pdf. In the other letter, ‘Councillor Anglin, UK Docks and the Enclosure on River Drive’ the misinformation appears to have been mainlined to a Council Solicitor.

We do not know what UK Docks told their Agents, Maughan Reynolds Partnership Ltd but the second condition was not included in the Discharge of Conditions as that would have to be considered as request for retrospective planning and for that the Agents would have given the Council the approved plans for consideration and it looks like UK Docks had been advised that there was no chance of that getting passed so a scheme was devised to bypass any path that would lead to a retrospective look at the plans.

As I have raised some legal issues, please pass the copies of both attachments to the acting Head of Legal Services, there appears to be a strange filter to his incoming mail, and I think he should be appraised of the events of 2013-2016.

Kind regards

Michael Dawson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Attached Letter~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Nicola,

An Aversion to Retrospective Planning

I have been involved in three cases with the Planning Department of South Tyneside Council where the developer built what he wished to build rather than what was permitted i.e. that which had been approved by the relevant planning authority. All cases are examples of the lack of building control and involved the same building inspector and all should have been considered retrospectively but were not.
Continue reading Shed and Corruption – Part 7: An Aversion to Retrospective Planning

Shed and Corruption – Part 6: Conflation of Complaints

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ rejection ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From: mailer-daemon@secureserver.net
Date: 25/12/2020 (12:49:26 PM GMT)
To: mick.dawson@theharbourview.co.uk

This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.
Delivery to the following recipients failed permanently:

* john.rumney@southtynside.gov.uk

Reason: There was an error while attempting to deliver your message with [Subject: "Re: Conflation of Complaints."] to john.rumney@southtynside.gov.uk. It has been in queue too long, and will not attempt delivery again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ acknowledgement ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Conflation of Complaints.
From: mick.dawson@theharbourview.co.uk
Date: 24/12/2020 (12:07:14 PM GMT)
To: Nicola Robason
Cc: John Rumney

Attachment: Conflation-23-Dec-20.pdf (505 KB)

Dear Leah,

Thank you for responding on Nicola's behalf.
On reading back through the email this morning I realised that I should have asked Nicola to pass a copy of it to John Rumney as there are some serious legal points to be gone over before Nicola even considers her response. A blocking application appears to monitoring his incoming mails.

Please excuse me for attaching it again and copying it Mr Rumney. It will check to see if the application is stiil live.

Kind regards
Michael Dawson
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ response ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RE: Conflation of Complaints.
Date: 24/12/2020 (11:37:26 AM GMT)
From: Nicola Robason
To: mick.dawson@theharbourview.co.uk, Nicola Robason
Cc: Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Anne-marie Trevelyan MP, Cllr Angela Hamilton, Cllr David Francis, Peter Cunningham, George Mansbridge, Hayley Johnson, Alison Hoy, Garry Simmonette, Angela Coutts

Dear Mr Dawson

Thank you for your email regarding complaints you have raised with the Council.

I am writing to acknowledge receipt and confirm that this matter will be looked into and you will receive a response week commencing 4th January.

Regards
Leah

Conflation of Complaints.
From: mick.dawson@theharbourview.co.uk
Date: 23/12/2020 (03:47:11 PM GMT)
To: Nicola Robason
Cc: Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Anne-marie Trevelyan MP, Cllr Angela Hamilton, Cllr David Francis, Peter Cunningham, George Mansbridge, Hayley Johnson, Alison Hoy, Garry Simmonette

1 Attachment:  Conflation-23-Dec-20.pdf (505 KB)

Dear Nicola,

My email started to grow like Topsy when I started to look back at the number of times that my questions/complaints about the height of the shed were referred to Customer Advocacy and especially how many times the responses were accompanied by misrepresentations of various kinds.

I’d also started to reproduce quotes and photographs from the various items of correspondence to reduce the number of cross references so I’ve converted ‘Conflation of Complaints’ into a pdf document.

Please see the attached file.

Kind regards,
Mick Dawson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ letter ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Nicola,

Conflation of Complaints

When we first complained about the height of the enclosure (shed) on the slipway off River Drive, September 2013, we were simply told it had been approved. The Principal Planning Officer was quite helpful and provided us with drawings and a few documents from the archive and even said that we could visit the Town Hall and search through about 250 files that had been recovered (saved to a disc) to check things for ourselves.
And the more we checked, the more we discovered that it was simply not true but unfortunately we were not able to copy any of the files, such as the protest letters from 2001, sent in when Tyne Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd, the previous owners, set the foundations for a shed 13.1m wide x 27.5m long (permission had been granted for one of 12.2m x 22m). It looks like retrospective planning was not considered at that time, mainly because the building inspector did not report this variation from plan. They say it was not his job and I find that difficult to believe but it remains that Tyne Slipway kept quiet about their plans for the longer shed. They may have been happy with this state of affairs but it presented UK Docks with a problem when they needed a taller shed to meet their slipway requirements in 2013.

We were never told when UK Docks took control of Tyne Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd but they were clearly in control when the frames went up in September 2013 but only conditions 3 and 4 appeared on ST/1146/13/COND when it was approved by the Planning Manager on the 14th October..
Continue reading Shed and Corruption – Part 6: Conflation of Complaints

Shed and Corruption – Part 5: Letter to HD, 20-May

Covering Email to Helen Dalby:  20-May-21

Attachment: PDF copy of S and C – Part 5 (The Boat Shed)
and, PDF copy of letter from South Tyneside Council, 29-Apr-21.

Dear Rachel

20th May 2021

If South Tyneside Council do not wish to answer a complaint they simply ignore it and they have various methods or devices to do this. I will use the case of UK Docks’ boat shed as an example.

Neighbours think ‘boat shed’ is a bit of a misnomer and it has been lengthened at the inland end by25% since the picture was taken in 2015. The end you can see has a height of 18.2m but the plans say it should only be 15.5m and if the Council had not ignored our complaint that it was 2.7m taller than permitted it is unlikely to be been put to use or finished.
When UK Docks applied to have it lengthened the Planning Committee were not told that the other end of the shed was 17% taller than permitted and in February 2016 they got permission to extend it. They were aided in this underhand scheme by the Council accusing the protestors of making unfounded allegations:-

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. The matter was ultimately referred by way of complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, the outcome of which was delivered on 14 April 2015.

Corporate Lead to the MP for Berwick – 25th June 2015

One only had to look at any approved plans to see that what the residents was saying was true and the Corporate Lead was the one making allegations. A year later, when I pointed out to the Council that the Ombudsman had been misinformed by one of their Senior Planning Officers, I was told that there was no evidence to support this point of view.
I had asked the Ombudsman to look an approved drawing but she chose to use the some plans provided by the Council that contained errors and had not been approved. She found for the Council, presumably because the Senior Planning Officer had told her the drawings to which he referred had been approved and one need look no further than the dates on those drawings to see the fundamental flaw in his argument. The drawings appear to have been made after approval had been given by the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation.

It appears from here that he had also been leaning on the Ombudsman by repeating the Council’s opinion, that complaints about the shed being too tall, were allegations. There is some evidence of this because when a second ombudsman was asked to review their findings in 2017 he said:-

I consider that your latest complaint remains that of your previous complaint which hasalready been determined and the opportunity to request a review of that decision has passed.

Paul Lewis, Investigator, 17th May 2017

In the first part of his statement, he had conflated the complaint to the Ombudsman made in 2015,that the Council were giving misinformation/misrepresentation to the Ombudsman, with the complaint made in 2014:- As the applicant has not discharged condition 2 why is there no retrospective planning application?

The second part should concern those who wish to see that the services like the Local Government Ombudsman are not misused by corrupt Councils to hide misdeeds by their planning and building control staff. Mr Lewis was being complicit with them when he said it was too late to request a review. The approved plans from 1996 survived and they show that the shed was nearly 3m taller than permitted.
In the interval between the First and Second Ombudsman’s findings UK Docks had successfully applied for permission to extend their shed permission to build it was granted on 1st February 2016 and one may curious to know how it came about. The answer was very simple, UK Docks employed another Agent, Gary Craig Associates and both failed mention that their plans to extend the shed included special footings, laid in 2001, and it appears the plans submitted to the planning office in late 2015 for extending the shed were little better than ‘fag packet sketches’.

What was more telling was the threat of suppression of all discussion by the Council on the 1st August 2016:-

Thank you for your letter to Martin Swales, Chief Executive dated 8 July 2016, requesting matters related to your previous complaint to be raised as a new complaint . . . .
There is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman, Neither do I have evidence to question the content of the Ombudsman’s investigation. . . .(you) refused to accept the decision of the Council or Local Government Ombudsman, by arguing points of detail. . . .
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.

Hayley Johnson, Corporate Lead

What I had said to the Chief Executive was: “I ask you 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 staffshould misrepresent the facts to the LGO is for you to determine. That they have misinformed theLGO should be admitted and corrected and that is what this letter is about”

I finished by asking: “I have been advised you may well say that all this relates to an old complaint and so I will ask you for a “new” complaint based on this letter and if you will not deal with it then the Local Government Ombudsman can deal with it” and it appears to have been good advice from the solicitor. He had spotted that the Council were conflating complaints so that the second can beignored.

The first was summarised in 2014 when I asked why were there no retrospective plans submitted when the shed was found to be wider and taller than planned and the second was that the Ombudsman had been misled by a Senior Planning Officer when he said the shed was no taller than the approved plans allow. The clear contradiction was that the authorised plans from 1996 saythe shed should not be taller than 12.7m but the shed is actually 15.5m at that point.

Both the Ombudsman and the Council abuse their complaints procedure by conflating different complaints and the method enabling this is not to register a complaint.
While the Ombudsman is probably not failing to register a complaint that they have been asked to investigate, it appears that they are acting in a like manner as South Tyneside Council when it comes to unjust decisions made by their Inspectors. The main indicator of this happening are in the responses of the Corporate Lead and the Second Inspector which both involve a denial that there was anything out of order followed by a closure:-

There is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman;
I now consider this matter closed.

Corporate Lead,  August 2016.

Followed ten months later by:

I consider that your latest complaint remains that of your previous complaint which has already been determined; the opportunity to request a review of that decision has passed.

2nd Inspector, May 2017.

Two of those ten months were used up by pointing out the shortcomings of the Corporate Lead’s desire to misapply a Section F (persistent and unreasonable complainants) of an unspecified code but they were passed back to her so they disappeared without trace and thus the cycle of deceit could be repeated at will and it was. It was repeated by the Ombudsman’s second inspector when he conflated the complaint was taller than permitted and the Council had done nothing about it with the complaint that the Council had given misinformation/misrepresentation to the Ombudsman.

Corporate Lead was forgetting one thing: there was only one letter to the Chief Executive about his staff misinforming the Ombudsman and it is entirely reasonable so say that the shed is nearly 3m taller than permitted when it is taller than permitted.

The Second Inspector overlooked the fact that his predecessor chosen to use the misinformation provided by Council so that she could say: The complainant says the shed is also 3 metres higher than it should be. The Council says it is not. There is no fault in how the Council decided the shed is the permitted height.

At the end of April 2021, I received a copy of what appears to be a rewrite of Section F, and I was asked take notice of Section 7:

This policy sets out our approach to managing those customers whose actions or behaviour are considered unacceptable, unreasonable or unreasonably persistent and are either having a harmful impact on our staff or their ability to provide an excellent service to other customers.

What is upsetting is that the Council have defined unacceptable behaviour as: “Aggressive, abusive or offensive language or behavior” with the implication that I have been using offensive language or behaving aggressively and they may have had a case had they produced an example.

All they have done is to reproduce a list of unanswered correspondence with the Office of the MP for South Shields and the Council since January 2020. As you can see from Paula Abbott’s email, which I have attached, there will be another year gone before we get any answer to the question the shed’s height.

Yours sincerely,
Michael Dawson