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The Principal Planning Officer refused to answer direct questions about the size of the shed so the residents tried to involve the MP but were met with a poor response because they were feeding her or her agent with misinformation and refusing to answer questions as directed by the FoI.

The Principal Planning Officer refused to answer direct questions about the size of the shed so the residents tried to involve the MP but were met with a poor response because they were feeding her or her agent by refusing to answer questions as directed by the FoI.

The newly elected MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, was not to blame for she had only been in post for six months and South Tyneside Council were happy to give her the same misinformation that was being pumped out by their staff over the phone to the Local Residents.

The Residents then decided to resurrect the Tyne Gateway Assn (TGA) which turned out to be a mistake because, with the interference of Cllrs Anglin and Macmillan the two main posts of the TGA, the Chair and Treasurer, went to two people who had an interest in UK Docks. They were a former director and procurement officer of HB Hydraulics.

At a meeting in November 2013 to arranged to review the grant given to Tyne Slipway in 1996, no valid plans were produced because they would have shown that the Residents were correct and, to put it bluntly, the Principal Planning Officer was being economical with the truth when he allowed it to be reported that the shed was ‘legal’ to mean it had been approved. However, actions speak louder than words and it was he who passed the drawings to the author of this blog to maintain the fraud the UK Docks had permission for their shed.

The drawings, 8296/1A and 1B, contained a fundamental flaw and it was in the dimension indicating the landward height of the shed and that led to the denials mentioned above.

Two of the three Ward Councillors were clearly working with the Principal Planning Officer at the meeting to suppress the fact that the shed was too tall and I, not being an Executive Member of the TGA, decided to raise a complaint on behalf of the residents who had not been invited to the meeting at the Town Hall.

It got nowhere, because it was removed from Planning Enquiries by the combined actions of the Planning Manager, Mr G Atkinson and his Principal Planning Officer, Mr P Cunningham, and this act was condoned by the manager the Head of Development Services, Mr G Mansbridge when:-

  1. he repeated the main misrepresentation made by his Planning Manager on  January 15, that the shed had an approved height of 15.5m at its landward end.
  2. he rewrote of the second stage of the original complaint  saving:- “I have investigated this and referred to the approved drawing cross-referenced with the dimensions taken on site by my planning staff. The height of the shelter does not significantly deviate from the approved scheme as you have suggested.

The true second stage happened because the first case officer was unable to supply a reasonable response to the discrepancy between what had been permitted and the size of the structure on the slipway.

The faux Stage 2 went forward to the office of the Chief Executive, Mr M Swales, where the person appointed to respond a complaint that the shed was 3m taller than planned, got round the problem of the shed being nearly 3m taller than planned, by failing to mention the height of the shed in her Stage Three Response.

Mr Swales had been told in no uncertain terms, two and a half months before, that the shed was not only a meter wider than planned it was nearly 3 meters taller as well and his first duty to should have been to establish the truth but it appears that he was happy for his staff to continue to oscure it. In a similar fashion my critism of Councillor Anglin made in December 2013 was side-stepped by Mr Cunningham, seven months earlier, when he said:-

Michael, 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. Regards, Peter” 

The documents had not been approved and by this means the Council continued to avoid taking enforcement action and the first clue that the Principal Planning Officer had sided with UK Docks, was given to the residents in one of his earliest written comminications with the protestors, which was titled, Approved boat repair shelter at Tyne Slipway, River Drive, South Shields.

It was the first of much misinformation given out by the Council over the years in defence of UK Docks and their ‘Shed’ and is most concentrated in their submision to the Ombudsman.

One can get some idea how South Tynesdide Council went about hiding the truth about the shed starting with Part I of the Shed and Corruption series and it eventually led to UK Docks Management, telling their MP and a Cllr in 2019 that they had been given permission retrospectively when they had none.

It took eight months to get the truth out of South Tyneside Council but even then the Monitoring Officer added a catch-all to cover over all the other lies told about the shed’s height:- I understand that all complaints procedures regarding this matter have been exhausted both internally within the Council and externally. – Nicola Robason, 19-Dec-19

The original complaint made on behalf of the residents was not logged and may as well have been chucked in the bin. The Principal Planning Officer did not properly acknowledge the complaint and introduced out of date or unapproved plans to contradict it and this fraudulent misinformation was passed so far up the management chain that it ended up with the fraud about the shed’s height being  given to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman therefore, did not uphold the complaint that the structure was both higher than wider than planned and the Council then had no hesitation in using the Ombudsman’s ill informed judgement to mislead our Members of Parliament (South Shields and Northumberland) and any other enquirers about the status of the structure.

All through this process they:the Planners, the Senior Management and even the Chief Executive, have been asked repeatedly to provide documentation to back their claim that structure is compliant with respect to height but they have failed to produce any.

They cannot produce one because there is none.

They either use an unauthorised drawing or one that was not produced for the planning application. If one tries to dig deeper they say:

“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.” ~~~~ MP for South Shields, 06-Sep-17

They do not wish to revisit the decision because the Ombudsman would have to admit that they had based their findings on the falsehoods or misinformation given to them by the Council.

This should have changed when UK Docks as good as admitted that they had not built their shed to authorised plans after all in April 2019 while for five and a half years South Tyneside Council have been telling people that their shed was fine.