To Paul Hepburn

Paul was one of correspondents from the early days. He discovered that the Council had originally put the conditions on the enclosure to make sure that the Tyne Slipway business could not be expanded without a resubmission to the Planning Authority.


Hi Paul,

You received a copy because I put the local people who had protested from the early days into the blind copy line (BCC:). It’s a standard method used by clubs and small organisations for distributing important notices. There are quite a lot of you at the moment and if anyone wants to write to you all with any more misinformation about Mr Wilson’s boat shed they can make their own list. Cllr Anglin was a bit free and easy with some address lists, he was responsible for, was he not?

I was also thinking of those that may have relatives working for the Council or the Port of Tyne and someone is going around saying that I am trying to change the facts behind the way the Council have treated our complaints by contacting Cllr Hamilton. That is a bit hypocritical if the source is the Council.

The basic facts about the shed are fairly simple:

• an authorised drawing showing that the shed is nearly 3m too high was recovered from the Council’s archive in early September 2013 but was not made available to us till after the Council had given the go-ahead to UK Docks to restart work on it in January 2014.*
• the footings were laid a meter wider than permitted in 2001 and they were a material consideration from that time and still are. Mr Cunningham appears to have kept the information about the extra width to himself. The Council would have been duty bound, in view of our protests, to issue an enforcement (notice) if he had told building control.

I wrote first to Cllr Anglin then the Council informing them that the shed was a meter wider than planned but again no action was taken by building control.

If you try and engage them about the height of the shed they just say things like:

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.

Council’s Corporate Lead to MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, 25th June 2015.

The Council operate a system of misinforming the Ombudsman to obscure a multitude of sins committed by their staff. Hayley Johnson, the Corporate Lead, therefore includes you, the ‘other local residents’ as well as me in those she was, to all intents and purposes, calling us liars. Allegations are accusations made without evidence, are they not?

When I complained to the Chief Executive that his Planning Staff were giving misinformation to the Ombudsman I was just brushed aside by the same Hayley Johnson when she said there was no evidence of this being deliberately done!

Here is another gem from the Ombudsman and she was on about the width:

21. The Council considered if the building accorded with the approved plans. The planning officer originally assigned the case considered the developers were building the boat shed to the measurements in the 1996 plans. Mr X says he told residents this at a public meeting. The Council accepts these measurements were wrong.

Mr Cunningham measured the shed in September then told us at a the Town Hall meeting in November that it was compliant. The email to Cllr Anglin and other members of that rather exclusive invitation only meeting can hardly be described as “Mr X says he told residents this at a public meeting.” Mr Cunningham, for the Council, did not accept that the measurements were wrong which was why I put in a formal complaint in January but that is another story.

A Senior Planning Officer has retold the sequence of events to the Ombudsman to hide the fact that not only had Mr Cunningham had not advised building control about the extra width but he had also misrepresented the situation to the residents at the meeting in November.

My experience with taking the complaint against my neighbours all the way to the Ombudsman taught me not to use the phone and to keep all the correspondence! The business of using the Local Government Ombudsman to cover up malpractice, is from what I can gather, not exclusive to Planning Offices nor South Tyneside Council but is a very serious one and therefore not a local issue and that is why I have copied this to the MPs etc.

If you or anyone else has a contact in the national press it would help our cause. The Gazette is not what it used to be.


 * one could work out from the doctored drawings provided by UK Docks that the shed was nearly 3m taller than permitted using the height from the roof top down to the hip of that mansard (3m) that the rest of the shed was 9.75m giving a total height of 12.75m. See figure 1.
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