Corruption of a Council’s Complaints Procedure.

Not by me, nor the local residents, nor UK Docks but by the people who administer the Council’s Complaints Procedure, who in turn rely on the Local Government Ombudsman to conceal their misconduct and the more reasonable the complaint, the more wholly do they rely upon giving misinformation to the Ombudsman.

I thought at first, naively, that they were only doing it to cover-up the wrong doings of the Planners and their Masters but later, when I tried to raise the issue with two different MPs, I soon discovered it was done to back the lies told to anyone who tried to discover what actually happened to our complaints.

There were two MPs because while my main residence was in South Shields, I had taken up lodgings in Northumberland in 2014.

The second MP was told in June 2015:- “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.

One only has to carefully examine the plans and drawings to see that when a structure is nearly 3m taller than the height given in an approved drawing and it is not an allegation to claim that it is taller than planned. It is the truth and the Corporate Lead, Mrs H Johnson, had by her statement, said that it was not taller than planned and therefore she had repeated the fraudulent misrepresentation made by UK Docks in September 2013.

No. 71 Greens Place.

The original complaint was that the Planning Officer had not followed the guidelines given in SPD9 but the Ombudsman was told that they had been followed and one only has to walk along the front or better still, the rear of Greens Place, South Shields to see who was being economical with the truth.

UK Docks’ Shed.

It became clear that there was more than one instance of South Tyneside Council misusing the Ombudsman’s services, when UK Docks was subsumed into so that other instances of the Council hiding malpractice could be included.

UK Docks, the home page of the original site has been edited into a blog on ‘theharbourview’:-

  There is, considered by those who live nearby, a most inappropriate slipway development by UK Docks in South Shields and very early in September 2013, large cranes arrived on site and work began on erecting five steel frames of what was to become a large slipway cover or shed.

The local newspaper was told by UK Docks; “We have been through all the controls with the planners, and the work meets all the necessary legal requirements. All we are doing is going ahead with the previous planning permission.”

I went on to say There was no previous permission which which contradicted what the approved plans told us.” A nonsense and to clarify the point I was trying to make I have replaced the whole paragraph with:-

The previous planning permission said it should have a height of 15.5m at the river’s edge but it is 18.2m. The difference 2.7m is the gradient over the length of the shed and both are true but it was not until South Tyneside Council published an approved drawing in December 2013 that we had proof that UK Docks fraudulently misrepresented the approved height of their shed to the Council with the non approved drawing 8296/1B.

It was nearly 3m taller than permitted and to avoid contradicting UK Docks’ view, the Council also sent us a drawing that misrepresented the height of the shed, 8296/1A.

UK Docks initially hid the fact that unclad structure was taller and wider than planned from the Council but soon after it was measured on the 17th September 2013 the site was closed as the plans recovered by the council showed that the shed was in beach of planning control and a stop notice must have been issued prior to 23-Sep-13.

Little or no notice had been taken of our complaints and we were not told that UK Docks had been ordered to stop work on their ‘shed’.

It was significant that Case Officer stopped corresponding with us at the same time so attempts were made to activate the local residents group but that failed because it fell under the control of two residents who were the Director and Procurement Officer of a company who advertised that they supplied services to Navel Dockyards. It was more than a coincidence that they were to benefit within days of giving credence to the fraudulent misrepresentation with the Council the rewriting the history of Nos 71 and 72 Greens Place.

UK Docks had won a contract to maintain Border Patrol Vessels before they were forced to relocate to River Drive and the contract specified that it needed to be done under cover but they only had permission for a shed that was 22m long and was not long enough to house the Tyne Ferries for which they had a contract with Nexus.

Generally our complaints or objections to the Council included:-

  • What was going on and why weren’t residents informed.
  • Concerns about the height and width of the structure.
  • Environmental concerns.
  • Noise when in use.
  • Change of use from light to heavy engineering.
  • Does not appear to fit in with any strategy plans.
  • Little or no information on the Planning Portal.

Our Petition, April 2014 came to nothing because it was given to the Head of Development Services to answer and he just repeated what we told at, or following, a meeting at the Town Hall, November 2013.

No plans that confirmed that the shed was built to the permitted height were produced at the meeting because there were none.

Instead we were told  by the Principal Planning Officer when he said on 20th December 2013:

Mr Dawson – once again – I have measured this on site and have copied the 1996 plans across to you twice already (attached again for your use) and I have explained during our meeting that the base and height of the structure are compliant…this is the end of the matter as far as I am concerned.
Please do not email me again.
Peter Cunningham
Principal Planning Officer

The base and height were not compliant with any approved plans. He was comfortable with this giving this misinformation because he knew that the management chain including the Head of Development Services would misinform the Ombudman if they approved of what he was doing. It looks like they did approve of what he was doing because they did misinform the Ombudsman.

To continue with the UK Docks site: – or – Back to the Main site:

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