Shed and Corruption – Part 18

I had intended to write to my MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, on the Opening of Parliament about UK Docks’ shed in South Shields but events overtook me and it was not sent until September. Those events were well reported so there is no need to mention them here but it meant some delay in my re-examination of malpractice by South Tyneside Council over the previous nine years.

Copy of the letter to Anne-Marie, Heart of S and C sent on September 16th 2022, with minor corrections to grammar etc. plus a subtle change of blame.
Where I had said:-

3. Mr Mansbridge instructed his staff to wind it up before the first stage was complete.

has been modified because it appears that his staff were acting independently when they had been told to hide the fact that the shed was taller than planned so it has been changed to:-

3. Mr Mansbridge’ staff wished to close down the complaint after repeating the lie about the shed’s height.

16 September 2022

Dear Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Heart of Shed and Corruption

I could tell during March 2015 that South Tyneside Council were giving misinformation to the Local Government Ombudsman about the enclosure being built on one of the two slipways off River Drive and wrote to my MP at that time about it:-

Customer Advocacy, the team that respond to Stage III complaints on behalf of Mr Swales, the CEO, admit to the repair shelter being built without planning permission and this completely changes the complexion of the development on the slipway, River Drive (now UK Docks, formally Tyne Slipway) and I would like you to look into why it has been allowed to be built without planning permission and that the Planning Department are considering an application dated June 20th 2014 (just 3 days after the first shelter was signed off) to build an even larger shelter alongside the existing one.

Someone noticed that I had moved to Amble so my email to Emma Lewell-Buck MP, was referred to the MP for Berwick for a response and it ended up after the Election in 2015, May 7, on your desk as the new MP for Berwick, and you copied me your letter to the Chief Executive for South Tyneside Council, Martin Swales of June 1, 2015. You wrote, correctly:-

It relates to a boat shelter at Tyne Slipway, River Drive, South Shields which Mr Dawson tells me was constructed outside the remits of the approved plan, which was a stated height of 15.5m. According to my constituent, the actual height of the structure is some 3 metres higher, yet was signed off by the Council regardless.

I said correctly because the approved plans from 1996 said that the landward end of the shed should have a height of 12.7m. I realised that a Senior Planning officer must have lied to the Ombudsman for her to report in mid April 2015, that the shed was not some three meters taller than the approved height and that they would repeat something similar to you and I advised you so and I had the grace to let the Chief Executive know as well:-

You have not specified that the stated height (15.5m) is of the river end of the shelter and it is likely that, Mr Swales, if he follows the arguments of the Planning Manager and the Head of Development Services before him, will say it refers to the road end.

This put the Chief Executive on the spot and to avoid following in the footsteps of his staff, he asked someone to mislead you on his behalf and he found an able candidate to fill his place and the first thing she did was to accuse and others and I of making allegations about the height and width of the shed. That was in attachment 6 of the letter to you of June 25, 2015, and South Tyneside Council have refused to let me know the contents of the main letter or any of the five attachments so one can only assume they say something similar to:-

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 – Hayley Johnson, Corporate Lead Officer.

One only has to look at an approved drawing to see how deceitful she had been, particularly with regard to the shed’s height but what is worse she adds a rider:- “I hope that this information is useful. Please do not hesitate to share this letter with your constituent.

Your office did not share the deceit with me and I only found out about it when I raised the subject of the plans for a second shed with planning officer Gary Simmonette who had taken over the handling of the UK Docks development on River Drive from Mr Cunningham. He too wished to hide the fact that the shed was nearly 3m taller than permitted.

In response to my claim that South Tyneside Council have been giving misinformation to the Local Government Ombudsman, the Chief Executive again relied on his Corporate Lead, Strategy and Performance, Hayley Johnson to do his dirty work for him an on August 1, 2016 she duly issued a denial:-

“There is no evidence to suggest that there has been deliberate misinformation provided by Council officers to the Local Government Ombudsman.

It was an outright lie of course, misinformation of that kind is deliberate, and to stifle any response Mrs Johnson, goes on to misuse a section of the Council’s Staff code (F) to silence any criticism by saying that I have refused to accept the decision of the Council or Local Government Ombudsman, by arguing points of detail and adds the threat:-

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 Councl”

The plans authorised in 1996 are proof the UK Docks’ shed is 2.7m taller than planned and shows that our historic complaint is entirely reasonable and she was advised that I had consulted a solicitor about it. I say ‘our’ complaint as I was one of at least 20 people who had complained in 2013 that the shed was taller than planned.*
I had written to her on September 2, 2016:-

The Solicitor’s view, off the record, was that UK Docks, in saying they were building the shed to approved plans when they were not, was probably criminal fraud but the police were unlikely to act on a planning issue.

I then presented Mrs Johnson with an example of how the Ombudsman had been deceived by a Senior Planning Officer. All the drawings have the root 8296. She was told 1A was not authorised and 1B was drawn in 1967 and I go on to say:-

As both ../1A and ../1B show the river end to be 15.5m it is therefore equally reasonable for me to say that the road end is 12.8m. If, as the Planning Managers says, they are consistent with authorised drawing 8296/2 (river end height of 16m, road end of 13m), it will only go to confirm that the river end height is correct at 15.5m and not the road end.

To labour my point, that it is the Council abusing their own complaints procedure, I add:-

You also say I have attempted to have the complaint reconsidered in ways that are incompatible with your adopted complaints procedure, or with good practice. Please note (the) complaint was not treated properly from the beginning:-
1. the Principal Planning Officer received it but did not register it;
2. the Planning Manager registered the escalation, not the complaint details;
3. Mr Mansbridge’ staff wished to close down the complaint after repeating the lie about the shed’s height.

Is it good practice to tell representatives of a protest group and the Councillors that a structure is ‘legal’ when it is not (approved)? Is it good practice to keep repeating that a structure is built to an approved height when it is not?

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