One of the best examples of abuse of the Council’s Complaints Procedure. The equivalent of a Stage 3 level of complaint passed back to Stage 2 level.
Michaela was no longer in post in Customer Advocates and I believe this letter was passed back to Mrs Johnson on instruction of the legal department so none of the points need be considered and why the final question has not been answered. Michaela was responsible for Stage 3, which required consultation with the legal and planning departments. Mrs Johnson later said: “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.” which implies she is responding at stage 2. He never responded to any correspondence:
The unanswered email:
From: Mick Dawson To: Michaela Hamilton Sent: Friday, September 02, 2016 9:56 PM Subject: Complaint: 248789 - Inappropriate Development on River Drive
South Tyneside Council and the Local Government Ombudsman
Please excuse me for writing directly to you. I’ve copied you the letter I wrote to Haley Johnson today. I assume you have access to my letter to the Chief Executive 8-Jul and her reply to me 1-Aug.
She has done exactly as my solicitor predicted she would do, she said I had submitted repeated complaints, essentially regarding the same issue after the complaints process has been exhausted. There are only two complaints and I did not raise the one to which she has referred. That was 253539 and raised at Mr Mansbridge’ request and was about enforcement. I do not consider the first closed closed until the Council come clean on the planned height. As far as I am concerned Mr Atkinson conceded the argument about the planned height to me in February 2014.
I did ask her if she had reviewed the original complaint of the 10-Jan-2014 and the correspondence following it up to 13-February, as she would have realised that Mr Atkinson had effectively agreed that the shed was 2.7m too high. He and I were discussing the height of the shed and he could no longer maintain the pretence that 8296/14 referred to the road end. I even put a different spin on the ‘not to scale’ misrepresentation.
One only has to look at the drawing to see that it is: a) the river end (note about access for boats) and b) has a height to width ratio of about 5:4 which corresponds with 15:12 not 18:12 whatever the scale of the drawing. Why he went on to say that it was not to scale, was not only irrelevant but appears to be a piece of misinformation designed to get himself out of an embarrassing situation. He had already said that the gable was the road end.
My main gripe with her is that she said, “There is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman.” in spite of me giving pages in great detail to the Chief Executive. Why has she used the word deliberate – surely giving misinformation is a deliberate act in itself?
This is just adding misinformation, and is perhaps intended for the LGO, and we will end up with “The Council have told you that there is no evidence of deliberate misinformation etc.” c.f. #35 where a piece of misinformation was repeated in spite of my protestations to Mr Mansbridge (a few times I think, including the time I advised him that the drawing he was using showed both ends to be 15.5m).
35. 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 … Since then the Council has consistently told Mr Dawson the shed is the correct height.
Ms Johnson finished by saying she considers the matter closed and should I continue to repeat historic complaint issues in your contacts, the Council will consider imposing formal restrictions on your contact with the Council. The threat of a Section F Notice which you administer is why I have sent you this covering letter and a copy of my response. It is not clear with what authority she speaks. I consider the matter of the Council misinforming the LGO to be at least a complaint at Stage 3 level, which I believe is your department.
Has Ms Johnson replaced Mr Mansbridge at stage 2 of the Council’s Complaint Procedure?