Barrier to Complaint about Sunday Working

From: Michael Dawson
Sent: 20 December 2016 15:53
To: Complaints
Subject: Re: Sunday Working by UK Docks, River Drive.
Dear Sir or Madam,
This is the second time in a few weeks that they have been working on a Sunday. Please acknowledge this complaint as I wish to take the issue up with the ward Councillor who organised the meeting – see below.
Kind regards,
Michael Dawson

It was only by calling in at the Town Hall that it was discovered that planning officer, Gary Simmonette, had not recorded the complaint and had asked Customer Advocacy to reply on his behalf.
This and the misinformation he has introduced is an abuse of the complaints system and and is better described as corruption. Explanation of the misinformation is highlighted below.
The complaint of the 20-Dec-16, as one can see, was about non compliance with Condition 5, not noise, nor anything else. You will have to Alison herself why she, on behalf of Complaints, has wasted her time highlighting the fact the Environmental Health Team are also running a corrupt complaints procedure.

From: Alison Hoy <> on behalf of Complaints
Sent: 21 December 2016 13:32
To: Michael Dawson
Subject: RE: Sunday Working by UK Docks, River Drive.
This email has been classified as: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED.
Normally Alison Hoy writes on behalf of of Customer Advocacy but here she is replying on behalf of the planner to whom the complaint should have been referred.
Dear Mr Dawson
Further to the recent email from you regarding noise at the site of UK Docks. Your earlier email was copied to the ‘complaints’ email address and had been directed to Melanie Todd, I had not therefore acted on that email.
Your current email requesting a complaint be logged due to noise and/or breach of working hours conditions has been queried with the relevant service teams. Noise nuisance complaints are dealt with by our Environmental Health Team and normal practice is to arrange diary sheets for completion to record evidence of noise nuisance for their consideration. I am advised that we currently do not have an open complaint for allegations of noise nuisance emanating from operations at the UK Docks site. Our last complaint in respect of the site was closed in February 2016.
The fact that it was the noise that alerted the residents to the fact that UK Docks were operating on a Sunday without notification brought the non compliance with the 5th condition to the residents notice.
If you would like to register a noise complaint, there would be an expectation that diary sheets would be completed over a period of 28 days to allow assessment of the noise. To initiate this please contact the Customer Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000. Officers have brought the reported incident to the attention of the Site supervisor at UK Docks and reminded him of his responsibilities and he will pass our comments on to the staff who were on site at the times being complained about. At present Officers advise that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the activity amounting to a statutory nuisance and we are therefore unable to take further action at this time.
The reply up to here is about noise and is totally irrelevant. A description of how the complaints procedure in respect of noise is corrupted is given in Barriers to Complaints about Noise. It was not until I bypassed the normal channels by calling into the Town Hall that it was discovered that the officer concerned had already determined in favour of the offender, UK Docks by ignoring the complaint.
With regards to the control of general working hours at the site, in respect of planning no restrictions exist. This matter was considered and responded to by the Local Government Ombudsman in response to the earlier complaint they investigated on your behalf.
Regrettably has blindly accepted the word of a Planner that there are no restrictions to working hours on the site. My complaint to the ombudsman non-compliance with condition 2, not non compliance with condition 5. The non-compliance with condition 5 was raised on 21-Dec-2016 more than a year and a half after the Ombudsman had published her findings.
Decision notice point 16 advised:
16.The Authority’s view is that condition 5 should not have been imposed because the site already had the benefit of unrestricted working hours. I cannot comment on this. I do not know how the business operated in 1996 and it is too long ago for the Ombudsman to investigate.
Not only has a Senior Planning Officer tried to smuggle his opinion (the Authority’s View) past the Inspector, she has told us she cannot comment upon it.
The matter was also considered in the committee report for the latest planning application for the site:
5.61 It would be unreasonable to seek to impose a planning condition restricting the working hours of the boat repair business or restricting the types of works associated with boat repairs at this application site, as it is an established boat repair yard. Furthermore, it is considered that condition to require the additional boat shed doors to be closed when activities are taking place would be unnecessary and unreasonable because activities on the slipway or on the existing jetty.
Two issues: the opening comment is again an opinion and the boat yard has become a ship repair yard. The planning officer responsible for the submission of the report to the committee was Gary Simmonette and it is reasonable to assume he was also the source of ‘the Authority’s View’ in #16, the Council’s submission to the Ombudsman.
As there are no restrictions to the working hours on site, it would only be evidence that a statutory noise nuisance existed which would allow the Council to take action regarding noise from Sunday working. The Officers view of the reported incident is that this would not constitute such a nuisance. Should you feel that noise from the site has escalated then please contact us as advised earlier in this email to request diary sheets be sent to you for completion.
Again the word of the planner that there are no restrictions to working hours on the site has been assumed to be correct. There has been no retrospective planning action to remove condition 5 therefore it must still apply. What is the point of requesting a diary sheet when the event has passed and the vessel being repaired has been taken onto the slipway.
I hope this clarifies the Council’s position at this time.
yours sincerely
Alison Hoy
Customer Advocacy
South Tyneside Council

As you can see she has made the Council’s position very clear – they will countenance no complaints whatsoever about UK Docks.

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