Revision of Part 12 of Shed and Corruption

The River End of the Enclosure

The Cycle of Deceit.

When the local residents started to complain about the structure being erected on the slipway off River Drive, they were passed drawings by the Principal Planning Officer, Mr P Cunningham, to back a claim made by him,  that UK Docks had approval for it on the 11th September 2013.

The shed is not far off being rectangular and one only had to glance at the drawing from which the clip of the river end of the enclosure or shed was taken, to see that something was wrong. It did not reflect what was being built and this was compounded by the fact that we were not told of its dimensions.  We discovered soon after the Tyne Gateway Assn (TGA) was revived about a month later, that it’s height at the landward end was 15.5m making the height at the river end 18.2m, the gradient of the slipway being 2.7m. Not the 15.5m as shown in the clip.

Apart from discovering in 2013, that the shed was 2.7m taller than planned in 1996, the TGA failed because it was taken over by two local residents who became the Chair and the Treasurer and who, along with two of the Ward Councillors, as was explained in Part 1 of the Shed and Corruption series but what did not come across is why the two residents who were in control of the TGA, Messrs Watson and Haig had changed sides from those who knew it to be taller than permitted to those who claimed it had been authorised at the meeting with the Principal Planning Officer on 25th November 2013 .

We are never going to know the real reason but taken into context, it looks like the best reason is given in the review made in June 2022 where ST/0749/13/FUL was overwritten by ST/0749/13/HFUL (page 2). In the review I said:- Mr Haig by persuading South Tyneside Council to withdraw the requirement for the redevelopment of No. 71 to be looked at retrospectively.

My assesmment of the situation was totally wrong; it appears that if Mr Haig  and his employee Mr Watson were prepared to claim that UK Docks had approval for the shed South Tyneside Council would hide the fact that his party wall between Nos 70 and 71 Greens place was built without planning permission (page2). I had complained about the party wall and that gave rise to ST/0749/13/FUL. Approval for the switch from ../FUL to ../HFUL by planning officer Ms C Matten was given by the Planning Manager, Mr Atkinson a mere ten days after Mr Haig had claimed that UK Docks had approval for their shed by reference to a ‘proper’ drawing.

The reference is from the TGA minutes as no minutes were taken of the meeting of 25th November 2013 held in the Town Hall some six hours earlier. The ‘proper’ drawing was either 8296/1A or /1B, both of which were unauthorised because they contained a major error in the dimension of its landward end. It should be between 12.5m and 12.8m (a foot difference)  not 15.5m (10 feet difference).

Two months after the meeting with Mr Cunningham, I was forwarded an approved plan, 8296/2, by his manager which showed that we had been misled when Mr Cunningham and co. had implied that UK Docks had approval for their shed. His manager, Mr Atkinson, by mid January 2014, had sided with those who claimed that UK Docks had approval for their shed:-

  1. Gazette, 9-Sep: A spokesman for the applicant, UK Docks, said: “All I can say is that we have been through all the controls with the planners, and the work meets all the necessary legal requirements;
  2. Planning Officer, 11-Sep: RE; Approved boat repair shelter at Tyne Slipway, River Drive;
  3. Cllr Anglin, 1-Dec: The Exec representatives of the Group accepted that the construction had been made legally as per drawings seen.
  4. Cllr Anglin, 19-Dec: Please see below the reply from Peter.”Hello – I confirmed at our meeting with Mr Dawson and others on 25th Sept Nov 2013 that I had measured the width and length of the ground floor external footprint and height of the structure and that these dimensions were all in accordance with the attached approved drawing and planning permission…I copied these two documents to Mr Dawson after the meeting as per his request.
  5. Planning Officer, 20-Dec: 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.
  6. Planning Manager, 15-Jan: Approved Drawings; The drawing that was submitted on 11th April 1996 with the application is numbered
    8296/1A. That shows the overall height of the structure as 15.5m above the foundation level at the landward end.

Both the Planning Officer, Mr Cunningham and his Manager Mr Atkinson, knew as well as I did that the shed was about 3m taller than permitted so why were they and the Councillor so keen to deny it.

There is a twist to this tale of lies and deception. When the Planning Manager had conceded that the shed was indeed 2.7m too tall we held a meeting in the South Shields Sailing Club on March 3rd to decide a way forward and that was to raise a Petition and that I was to write and thank him for agreeing with us about the shed’s height.

We held the meeting because he had admitted that we were correct about the shed’s height but UK Docks set about completeing their shed with even more vigour despite our protests.

The issue was not complex at all – see post 8296/2.

The Petition about the misdoings of South Tynside Council was  presented at the Town Hall on April 3rd 2014 for the attention of the Chief Executive. The  response was not from him but from Mr Mansbridge  on May 2nd who repeated the lie made by the Planning Manager in mid JanuaryApproved Drawings: The drawing that was submitted on 11th April 1996 with the application is numbered 8296/1A. That shows the overall height of the structure as 15.5m above the foundation level at the landward end.

Mr Mansbridge worded it slightly differently in his response to some householders in Greens Place and Harbour View but omitted the drawing reference for obvious reason that he was quoting from a drawing 8296/1A that had not been approved. The height of landward end of the shed was written as 15.5m. It should have been 12.7 or 12.8m.
The approved dimensions of the steelwork are:
• Proposed height 15.5m at the River Drive end. The gradient of the slipway is 2.66m over the length of the shelter. This would mean the height at the riverside end would be 18.16m above the slipway;
• Proposed length 22m;
• Proposed width 12.2m. 

Mr Mansbridge had already repeated the lie about the shed’s height to a neighbour on the 29th April:- The Development Permitted in 1996
The approved dimensions of the steelwork, taken from drawing number 8396/1A show: • The proposed height as 15.5m at the River Drive end. 

I wrote and asked him to correct his fraudulent misrepresentation of the shed’s height in his response but it was never done because my email of the 9th May to him was passed back to his Planning Manager who had passed it up the management a few weeks before on April the 25th. Please note the FBR reference 248789 .

On the 12th of May 2014,  Mr Mansbridge, the Head of Development Services wrote to tell that he was overwriting 248789 and replacing it with 253539. The first complaint was effectively deleted because Mr Mansbridge’ desire to present his version of the lie to the Ombudsman so that he whould not have to revise his letter to the residents of Greens Place and Harbour view nor would he have to write and apologise to Mr Burge.

Sure enough the lie about the shed’s height appeared again in his faux Stage 2 version of our complaint, he was refering to 8296/1A again and even attached a copy:- That must be the plan which the Development Corporation was referring to when it granted planning permission in 1996. The height of the steelwork at River Drive is clearly marked as 12.5m+3m (total 15.5m).

It was clearly not the plan being  referred to in 1996 even the officer who was charged with completeing the phoney Stage 3 report compounded the lie when she said:-

With respect to your comments regarding drawing 8296/14, this drawing was submitted by the developer last year in discharge of condition 4 relating to the fixing details of the end panels. Mr Mansbridge stated in his Stage 2 response that the engineer chose to include a gable elevation of the structure on the same drawing but told you this was not drawn to scale. You have disputed this. I have not considered this point further because it is clear that drawing 8296/14 was submitted in 2013 for a wholly different purpose (i.e. for the purposes of discharging a planning condition) and as such, could never supersede the previously approved plans in terms of defining the dimensions of the approved development.

8296/14 did not supercede the previously approved plans.

Before I was forced to respond to Mr Mansbridge’ false claim about the height of the shed I wrote to to the Chief Executive on the 7th July about the height of it. It was clear that correspondence up to the 13th of February had been viewed  because Michaela Hamilton made no mention with regard to the height of the shed except to repeat the lie that 8296/14 was not to scale:- “Mr Mansbridge stated in his Stage 2 response that the engineer chose to include a gable elevation of
the structure on the same drawing but told you this was not drawn to scale.

The gable end on 8296/14 was drawn to a scale of 1: 100 and with a flat screen and even with a basic  drawing application it was easy to determine from it that the approved height  was 15.6m and width 12.2m. This was the drawing being referred to when Mr Atkinson conceded to our entirely reasonable claim that the shed was 2.7m too tall which explains why Mr Mansbridge overwrote 248789 with 253539 and why it was not presented at a meeting expressly arranged to view it in July the 8th 2014 and why a Senior Panning Officer told the Ombudsman that it was not to scale.

By the end of March 2015, I could see that the Ombudsman had been persuaded to ignore the evidence  to show that UK Dock’ shed on their slipway off River Drive was about 3m taller than planned.

Meanwhile the email that I had sent to the MP for South Shields in March 2015 had wended its way to the MP for Berwick but he was standing down and it was passed to Anne-Marie Trevelyan which resulted in the Council’s Corporate Lead accusing us of making allegations.

It is not an allegation to claim that a structure is taller than planned when it is taller than planned.

I did  try to write a response to Mr Tilbury in early 2016  but decided after the facts were assembled, it made sense to send it straight to the Chief Executive, that rather then send it to the solicitor to forward on to him. I was quite pleased as I had reduced the 12 pages of my first draught to four pages of well reasoned arguments explaining how the planning officer Mr Simmonette had covered up the wrongdoing of the planning and building control officers in late 2013 by giving misinformation to Customer Advocacy linked to the misinformation given to the LGO by an officer before him:-

I ask you (CEO) to look again at this because there is a clear contradiction between what the Council were telling the LGO and what is known. Why your staff should misrepresent the facts to the LGO is for you to determine. That they have misinformed the LGO should be admitted and corrected and that is what this letter is about.

Shooting the Messenger for the Second Time

Mr Swales did not want to admit that his staff had lied to the Ombudsman, nor correct the lies either, and Mr Lewis, the second Inspector’s, solution to the problem was to conflate the complaint that the shed was was oversize and the Council had done nothing about it, 10th January 2014, with the complaint that the Council had misled the Ombudsman to hide by repeating “The complainant says the shed is also 3 metres higher than it should be. The Council says it is not. 

The Council’s method of hiding it was to falsely accuse others and I of making allegations about it’s height and that was executed by the Council’s Corporate Lead in  Appendix 6 attached to a letter to the MP for Berwick, 25th 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.

His option was to instruct someone to misapply ‘Section F’ of a staff code and the Council’s Corporate Lead was the obvious choice for South Tyneside Council’s second attempt to shoot the messenger:-

“I now consider this matter closed. Should you continue to repeat historic complaint issues in your contacts, we will consider imposing formal restrictions on your contact with the Council.

Corporate Lead, 1st August 2016.

Like Messrs Cunningham and Atkinson two years before she did not register or record my complaint, theirs being that they failed to register that UK Docks had not built the shed to an approved plan and the Council had done nothing about it and her failure being to register, the one and only complaint, that the Council had misled the Ombudsman.

As there was no audit trail or record of the history of each complaint, each story could be rewritten by those who followed. In the case of the first it meant that in response to our Petition the shed was said to have approval and in the second it meant that the Corporate Lead could repeat herself and she did.


Two months later, the email sent to Customer Advocacy on 3rd September having been passed back to her, she said:- “After considering your letter, I can again advise that there is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The email to Customer Advocacy (CA) referred to the copy of the letter sent to Mrs Johnson on the 2nd September 2016 and they should be able to provide a copy but I would prefer one to visit my critique of her handiwork before I address its reappearance under a different guise in April 2021. In the intervening period there were a number of issues:-

1. 2017: 17-Jan: conflation of breach of condition 5, 18-Dec-16 and the earlier breach of condition 2 when the shed was first erected by the Council’s Corporate Lead;

2. 2017, 26-May-17: letter to the Chief Executive about the appalling conduct his Corporate Lead and the planning officer in charge of ST/0461/14/FULwhich remains unanswered;

3. 2017, 8-Aug: letter to Cllr Anglin re ST/0461/14/FUL which CA conflate with the original complaint of 10th January so that it remains unanswered. Laid off to Customer Advocacy who filed it away saying 11-Sep-16:-

4. 2017, 6-Sep: the Council told the MP for South Shields that the LGO found against me and referred me to Mr M Harding the Monitoring Officer;

5. 2018, 2-Feb: list of unanswered emails from CA, re 17-Jan-17 letter;

6. 2018, 19-Sep: complaint to Monitoring Officer about the conduct of Cllr Anglin;

7. 2018, 26-Oct: Further complaint to Monitoring Officer;

8. 2018, 12-Dec: response from a Council solicitor re Cllr Anglin where she repeats much of the misinformation given to the Ombudsman by the Council in 2015, decoded on the 14th;

9. 2019, 9-Apr: letter to Monitoring Officer re response to the complaint about Cllr Anglin. It was never answered because he was presented
with the same choice that was presented to the Planning Manager five
years before;

10. 2019, 1-May: UK Docks claim that they had got permission for their shed, retrospectively;

11. 2019, 7-May: email to Monitoring Officer about UK Docks claim, remains unanswered;

12. 2019, 19-Jun: email/letter to Mr M Harding Head of Legal Services about Gil Hayton’s response in December 2018 and UK Docks claim for their shed:- How much longer will it be before South Tyneside Council will admit that UK Docks have not put in a retrospective planning application for their slipway enclosure? Not five and a half years, I hope.

~ ~ There was no reply and not any ‘out of office’ replies.


13. 2019, 17-Sep: email to Building Control – laid off to planning
Hi Planning, Please see attached and email below which I believe was
meant for planning
Regards, Debbie Graham Operations &
Partnership Officer

14. 2019, 17-Sep: evasion, back to planning v building control and September 2013

15. 2019, 25-Sep: Cllr Francis advised me that Ms Robason was the new Monitoring Officer;

17. 2019, 5-Dec: email to the Monitoring Officer, Dishonesty at theTown Hall;

18. 2019, 11-Dec: re Dishonesty at the Town Hall I confirm safe receipt and that I will not consider the content of your email and attachments.
– which fits the pattern of responses dictated by CA, 18-Jan-18;

19. 2019, 19-Dec: admission that the Council had not received a retrospective planning application from UK Docks was spoilt by saying:-
The Council has recognised that the development of the shed on the site is unauthorised but concluded some time ago, in accordance with the Constitution, that no enforcement action would be taken as this was not in the public interest as there would be no change in the level of perceived harm suffered. This decision and the reasoning behind it was communicated to residents by the Council.

A repeat of the communication made in 2014 by Mr Mansbridge in his response to our Petition, 2-May 14:- “I have concluded that the development as constructed is acceptable on its planning merits. It would not therefore be expedient for the Council to take enforcement action.

In the same response one will see he also repeated the misrepresentation that the shed had been built to the approved height. Height was never mentioned in the seventh and eight cycles of deceit. Apart from the first cycle of deceit which was about the width, the rest were made to hide the fact that the shed is taller than planned and that was because it was realised that while UK Docks would get permission to lengthen a slightly wider shed there was no chance that they would get permission for a much one taller one.

They were probably advised that there was also no chance that they would permission retrospectively and so they took the risk and started work on it in September 2013 but someone like myself in the planning office who understood plans and drawings, put a stop on the construction for nearly three months and it was only restarted after the meeting in November 2013, organised by Cllr Anglin and the Chair of the Tyne Gateway Assn that work on the shed restarted.

All the measurements and all the available plans, drawings and relevant documents must have been available to the planning officers by mid September 2013 because they had forced UK Docks to stop work on their shed but the Principal Planning Officer had chosen to present an unapproved drawing containing an error in a vital dimension implying that the structure had approval when it had none at a meeting in November.

He had been given a chance when the formal complaint in to Planning Enquiries to make amends in January 2014 but chose otherwise. His fraudulent misrepresentation of the plans was kept alive until UK Docks got permission to lengthen it in February 2016 and it looks like the cover up was continued until December 2019 and by that time the position of Monitoring Officer had passed to Ms Robason and it looks like the same people who were happy to lie to the Ombudsman were more than happy to mislead her as well.

Shooting the Messenger for the Third Time.

Within a few days of of the publication of Shed and Corruption Part 2, which detailed how the Council had corrupted their own complaints procedure, someone had spotted the way things were going and I received a Contact Restrictions Notice on the 29th April 2021, along with a copy of the Complaints Policy 2019v1.5 from Customer Advocacy. Apparently they had relaxed the misuse of Section F on August 18 2018 though Alison’s list fails to mention any correspondence from that date until 2020.

It was another misuse of the rules as Customer Advocacy would have known that there had only been one complaint about South Tyneside Council giving misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The first contact restrictions notice or ‘shooting the messenger’ was issued because Mr Swales was caught in a bind because he was asked to produce evidence that the shed had been approved and he could not, we were therefore falsely accused of making allegations about the shed’s height amongst other things and the second was the misuse of Section F of some staff code because he did not want to admit that some of his staff were giving misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The third personal attack on me was authorised by whoever was left in charge of South Tyneside Council as Mr Swales had retired and not been replaced. One can only conclude that, that the person left in charge wished to make sure that one of the biggest skeletons in the Council’s cupboard remained there until the post of Chief Executive had been filled.

That skeleton was the enclosure or shed covering the slipway off River Drive, South Shields, and owned by UK Docks and it was there because of the fraudulent misrepresentation made about its height given to the Council by them in September 2013 and the Council repeating it in cycles of deceit until until they had given misinformation/misrepresentation to the Local Government Ombudsman rather accept a request that the shed be removed.

Rebuilding it to the correct height had not been an option since January 2014.

M Dawson,
4th April 2022

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