Criminal v Civil Action

Dear Julie,

UK Docks and Property Sale.

Thank you for the reference ‘Local Government: abuse of Power’ by the Law Gazette. It is more relevant to the issues which have arisen from my dealings with the Shields Estate Agents. Not only has a building surveyor all but said that it needs a new roof and rewiring but he does not appear to have signed his report. There is also a rumour that the new bathroom and bedroom have been built without planning permission and on top of that an unknown source has misrepresented the Grade 2 listing for 68,69 and 70 Greens Place to Goldfinch. This last one points directly to the Town Hall as its source and there is no reason to think the others have not arisen there either.

So with this much pressure you must bear with me if I lose it occasionally or more precisely, get my priorities wrong, each month that goes by I’m paying out a considerable sum in Council tax, insurance and utility bills and a small mortgage until I get the property sold.

Your other reference // and in particular the second paragraph brings me back on track and for that, I thank you:

Despite the recommendations of Lord Nolan, there is no statutory requirement for the Police to take action and therefore officers of the Council are immune from prosecution.

They all know this at the Town Hall and they also know that by association the Leader of the Council is quite prepared use our rates to defend those same officers against any Civil action and is why I called them dimwits for thinking that I was going to use the sale of No 70 to fund a Civil action. I also think that is why a solicitor advised me to take the path that I have, and he advised:

“My view is that we need to raise a “new complaint” so that the Local Authority shall deal with it, and if not, the Local Government Ombudsman can deal with it. The new complaint being the misinformation and/or misrepresentation by the Local Authority in supplying information to the Local Government Ombudsman. Hopefully this can be dealt with as a “new” matter. If this complaint is not dealt with by South Tyneside Council, and it may well be that they say it relates to the old complaint, then I believe it justifies going straight to the Local Government Ombudsman.”

I did try and raise a new complaint* but failed because STC’s Corporate Lead said there was no evidence of misrepresentation so I eventually went to the Ombudsman and while he did not agree with the Corporate Lead, he said I was too late in making my complaint.
The deadline was arbitrary and set by the second Inspector himself!
While the Ombudsman has no authority to make any local authority behave reasonably there is sting in the tail for us and that is; the council use an ill found case to present us as troublemakers, time wasters or even dishonest citizens and they have no qualms in doing so. To the quote the Corporate Lead herself, in her letter to the MP for Northumberland:

“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.”

Notice that she includes you and the other protesters as well as me. It is used again by the Council to your own MP in a response to my complaint to her office about the conduct of Cllr Anglin in respect to the plans for UK Docks:

The previous issues relating to the boat yard have in fact now been looked at by the Local Government Ombudsman and they found no issue with the yard or anything relating to its development. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman’s decision cannot be re-visited.

An MP has been mislead by the Council again. Have they no respect for either the person or the office? I’m not very sure if the following counts as misinformation:

“In relation to the conduct of Cllr John Anglin, unfortunately I have no power to look into this, however if you feel Cllr Anglin’s conduct has fallen short of what you expect or you are unhappy with his behaviour then please may I suggest that you contact the Monitoring Officer at South Tyneside Council, Mike Harding, who you can formally report your concerns to and also make an official complaint if necessary.”

I had earlier referred to the meeting he had set up in November 2013 which was arranged to review the claim by the Council that the cover was approved but the Principal Planning Officer provided no evidence to support his claim that it had been approved (UK Docks claim it is legal which is not the same thing).

I have no wish to pursue Cllr Anglin through the Council’s complaints system partly, because it is not the correct body, but mainly because it is rigged. I have been told that Mr Harding was the Head of Legal Services by Corporate Lead but your MP has been told that he is the Monitoring Officer. It appears to be a new official post and would be the responsibility of the Corporate Lead one would have thought.

I tried to clarify this with Customer Advocacy as I felt that the MP had been misinformed but they declined to answer and anyway Cllr Anglin had already compromised himself by organising a meeting with no (or a hidden) agenda – see above.
My email to Paul in February deals with a second complaint against him where he again ignores notice of a breach of planning control.

I had written the MP’s Office Manager earlier in the day of her response, 6th September 2017, explaining why Cllr Anglin was not to be trusted, but the main point of the email was to show that the cover was 2.7m taller than planned:

At the end of the day there are only 2 approved drawings giving the planned height of the cover and it is not what the Council are saying. The council say the road end has a planned height of 15.5m but approved drawings give one of 2.7m less. Cllr Anglin has not done himself, nor any of the other Councillors, a favour by ignoring this and the other misdoings of the Council’s Panning staff.
What did UK docks have to say for themselves when Emma went to see them?

Her Office Manager did not reply but your MP did:

“I have met with the directors of UK Docks and have also liaised with the council and I am certain that no laws have been broken and the council are also discharging their functions correctly in relation to the boat yard and the subsequent containers which have caused concern to residents.”

There are a number of issues to consider here:

  1. according to her Office Manager, your MP was to have met with the directors on March 31st and the offending container was placed on top of its neighbour in August. While we have no idea what they discussed we know it was not going to be the container. It looks UK Docks told her that the cover was legal. Apparently it is not unlawful to build without planning permission and it is why the MP says no laws have been broken.

  2. the footings for the six frames were laid in 2001 but only five frames were authorised and the last frame would have been placed on the sixth set which was laid without approval. This is not illegal apparently but it was not part of the original grant of permission. It looks like UK Docks have conspired with agent Gary Craig, and the Council to ‘legalise’ the last frame which lifted into place on the 11th August – three days after the Council was told about the sixth set of footings.

  3. the footings laid in 2001 were also nearly a meter wider than planned and the same doubts about that being ‘legal’ must also be true. There is a discrepancy between what they have told the Ombudsman and what they told us in response to our Petition.

Did your MP discuss anything besides the containers in her dialogues with you because it looks doubtful? She should have asked the Council if we were right about the plans.

“In relation to your email, I have been in dialogue with the council and residents in the last couple of weeks relating to the planning issue and also the containers which are on site. If I could update you with regards to our dialogues I am hoping it may prove helpful to you.”

It looks your MP has been persuaded that the cover is compliant. The term ‘legal’ is not relevant. It looks like in initially denying there was any deviation in height or width the Council allowed UK Docks to continue with the installation of the overhead crane etc. and then it was too late to do stop the build out without loosing face. They did eventually concede my point about the width but reverted to the lie that it was built to the approved height when they responded to our Petition.

It looks like both UK Docks and the Council avoided the subject of the plans altogether and between them both they have managed to build not only higher and wider than planned but longer one as well.

I think you have a good case for asking your MP to go over the plans with you, especially as I think you hold a full sized copy of 8296/2 and include Stephen Hepburn the MP for Jarrow if you can.** The reason I say this is because 8296/2 is the only authorised from 1996 drawing that has dimensions. Your copy may not have an authorisation stamp so I have I have attached one that has. The Council recovered it from their archive in September 2013 and it gives the height of the road end as 13.3m.

I have used 8296/14 in all my arguments as it gives a river end of 16m partly because it was approved by Gordon Atkinson, the Planning Manager at that time but mainly because it was the drawing I used in my complaint that the cover was too high and too wide both to the Council, acknowledged but not registered properly,* and the Ombudsman.

The complaint was 8296/14 can be found under ST/1146/13/COND but a full sized copy copy would be better as it would save you scaling; the gable end is drawn to a scale of 1:100 and is 16cm high.

If we cannot convince The MP for South Shields on this issue I think we’ll have to got public because I’m not going to let them get away with the abuse of the Local Government Ombudsman. I’ve tried already but the BBC weren’t particularly interested, probably because Radio 4’s programme ‘You and Yours’ is a bit light weight. It was listening to one of their programmes that confirmed my suspicion that using the Ombudsman to hide malfeasance was not exclusive to South Tyneside Council.

Thank God, under the present regime they would only have used the issue to try and blame it on Jeremy Corbyn. Maybe after the election I’ll move back to South Shields and I can give you a hand. Looking at UK Docks development on River Drive from outside one can see that is only there because they told the Council they had approval for what they were doing and they hadn’t. I think the issue with the Ombudsman lies with Parliament and I have two examples to start with, No 71 Greens Place and UK Docks.

Kind regards,


* the primary method of ensuring a complaint is not addressed.
** ‘Local Government: abuse of Power’ by the Law Gazette – Emma’s office is just along from the Town Hall and hopefully Stephen Hepburn is more independent of it. Also it was he who forwarded my original complaint to your MP to the MP for Northumberland.

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