Cllr A: Dear MP

Dear Emma,

Thank you for taking notice of my complaint to the Council about the conduct of Cllr Anglin. I have had no acknowledgement from the Council yet and will use the opportunity to disclose to all, omissions from my complaint. I can also lightly touch upon the way that the Council misuse the Local Government Ombudsman to cover up maladministration.

I will deal with the major omission first, starting with repeating paragraph 23 of the Ombudsman’s findings full:

23. The Council considered the difference between the permitted width and the width of the built shed and decided not to enforce. Enforcement is discretionary and the Council explained to residents in great detail how it reached its decision. It explained the law and policy it considered. There is no need for me to repeat this. It decided the degree of departure from the plans – less than one metre – was “non-material.” Given the overall scale of the building, its decision is sound. The Council took the view “comparing the as built development from that for which permission was granted, there are not considered to be any additional significant impacts to residential amenity that would justify taking enforcement action.” In other words, there was not enough harm.

The conflicting evidence comes from the response to our Petition, which was addressed to the Chief Executive but answered by his Head of Development Services, Mr George Mansbridge, 2-May-14:

Apart from the width these dimensions are either entirely in accordance with the approved plan, or subject to such minor deviation that they are properly categorised as non-material changes. It was following queries raised in mid-January that that the plans were re-examined. We discovered that the overall width of the steelwork at ground level was shown as 12.2m on the plan, not 12.9m as previously understood.

The rest of the paragraph does not stand scrutiny; he told us that the width was material but the Council told the Ombudsman that it was non-material. 200mm (the width of a sheet of A4) would have been “non material” but nearly a meter is and raises questions about the competency of building control in either 2001 or 2013 rather than anything else.

The secondary omission was paragraph 21 and I repeat it now to show that the Council were misrepresenting the timing of events.

21. The Council considered if the building accorded with the approved plans. The planning officer originally assigned the case considered the developers were building the boat shed to the measurements in the 1996 plans. Mr X says he told residents this at a public meeting. The Council accepts these measurements were wrong.

It contains two pieces of misinformation made to the Ombudsman:

i) the Council did not accept the measurements were wrong at meeting in November and as late as mid January they were still saying the shed was not too wide;

ii) the public meeting was where I explained to the other residents that the Planning Manager had conceded to our arguments was held in March.

a) that the shed was 1 meter to wide and I thanked him in February;
b) that the shed was 2.7 meters too high and I thanked him after the meeting in March. – See wish list.

To clarify paragraph 22:

22. A more senior officer checked the measurements; he found the width at ground level was just less than one metre wider than the permission allowed. The Council decided the developer had not built the shed entirely in accordance with the approved plans and so had not met condition 2. The Council decided this was a breach of planning control.

Again from the response to our Petition:

The measurements which the Council took on 17th September 2014 are:
• Height at the River Drive end 15.5m and at the riverside end 18m.
• Length 22.254m;
• Width 13.1m;

As you can see the Council measured the structure two months before the meeting at the Town Hall and a month before Cllr Anglin told the residents at the AGM (open meeting) that he would go and resolve what was actually planned.

The Councillor walked away from the issues surrounding the shed and left it us to argue with the planners and it was not until May when they responded to our petition that they conceded outright that the shed was too wide and by that time the shed was in regular use and I think we can justly hold Cllr Anglin responsible.
MD 1-Oct-2018

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