Critique of Legal Monitoring Officer – 2018

Introduction to the Critique

A much simpler version of this critique was published 2 years ago.

The local residents guessed from the first week in September 2013, that UK Docks had built their shed taller than permitted because the planning officer responsible for the structure being erected next to Harbour View, off River Drive in South Shields, just kept repeating that it had been approved and was evasive about its height. In response to a direct question about its height, he sent out plans provided by the owner of the site and referred one of the residents to the Council’s Complaints Procedure. The question was simply:- “Has the revised height of 15.5metres been approved or is it in breach of the 1996 Planning approval?

The first thing to note is that the bottom and left sides are missing from the first drawing and it turns out that it was one of two drawings drawings from the Council’s archive that had been approved. It was numbered 8296/2 and showed the permitted height of the structure to be 12.8m at the landward end.

My partner at the time was sent a copy of the drawings and I took little interest simply because I assumed that if they had gone to the expense of erecting such a large structure in a designated residential area the must have had permission for it but it turns out that they had not.

Because the planning officer kept denying that anything was wrong with the height Tyne Gateway Association (TGA) was resurrected as a means to break out of this deadlock but it failed and this can be attributed to the Chair of the TGA and Cllr Anglin. In simple terms the Councillor had promised the TGA that he would find out for us if the shed had been built with planning permission.

Some of us trusted neither of them and as one of the committee members of the TGA, I made sure that I was in attendance when we met with the Council at the meeting at the Town Hall in November 2013. Our lack of trust was prudent as we were again told that it had been approved.**

Subsequent investigation showed that a) it was not compliant with any approved plans and b) the Planning Officer knew about it before the TGA was even reformed.

Cllr Anglin took no minutes at that meeting but it was recorded in the TGA’s minutes of their meeting in the evening that:- KH advised that they had seen the plans which were date stamped 1996, the structure is 15.5m. Proper drawings were on file and there is nothing illegal about the structure.

KH was Ken Haig and he was for a time one of the directors of HB Hydraulics Ltd. He denied any interest in UK Docks. When asked what a director of a navel supply company and his procurement officer who previously had worked for the MOD, the Chair of the TGA, why they were supporting UK Docks, we were simply told that he did not know the owner of the slipway.

The way that South Tyneside Council avoided the truth about the shed’s height is gone into, in some detail, in Shed and Corruption -Part 1/3. The reason the third part had been highlighted is because the former Head of Development Services, Mr G Mansbridge was pivotal in providing misinformation to the Local Government Ombudsman.

While complaints about South Tyneside Council Employees are never considered, I had noticed when the Corporate Lead, Mrs Hayley Johnson misapplied Section F of the Council’s Code of Conduct in 2016 that councillors were not included in that exclusion and raised a complaint against Cllr Anglin in 2017 which has led to this criticism. There was no response to the observations on the Corporate Lead’s misuse of Section F of the Code of Conduct because whoever authorised its misuse leant on Ms Hoy and needless to say South Tyneside Council continue the Section because they have no desire to be honest about the height of the shed.

In January 2017, I had advised Cllr Anglin that the Council were generally calling our complaints, allegations and especially those  about UK Docks, so that they did not to have to respond to them. He never answered, nor did Customer Advocacy but the Council’s Corporate Lead did on the 17th January:- “My letter requested that you refrain from raising historical complaint issues regarding the boat shed or any other matters which had already exhausted the Council’s complaints procedure.

The Council’s complaints procedure will never be exhausted while they support Evasions and Denials by at least one of the following, a rearrangement of the table at the end of Shed and Corruption – Part 2:-

[1] A complaint not recorded, nor questions answered;
[2] Back-pass to a completed step or stage;
[3] Conflation of complaints;
[4] Denial/contradiction in the first response;
[5] Forward pass or diversion into a dead end.

The first and third are mentioned in my email/letter to Cllr Anglin mentioned above which concludes with a polite way of saying the Council was using a corrupt version of the complaints procedure:- “This sort of thing lends weight to our suspicions that the Council’s complaints procedure is being run for the benefit of the Council (the Establishment) and not for the people.

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