Criticism of Letter 17/1/17

Criticism of unsolicited email/letter from the Council’s Corporate Lead: 17th January 17

Dear Mr Dawson

I am writing to you regarding your repeated enquiries of the Council and now Councillor Anglin, regarding complaints with the boat shed built at UK Docks, despite my letter to you of 5 October 2016, which set out the restrictions placed on your contact with the Council regarding this historic complaint [1].

In her letter of the 5th October I was sectioned as an unreasonable and persistent complainant with the misapplication of Section F of some Staff rules. I had written to the Chief Executive with a complaint that his staff had been giving misinformation to the LGO, gave him some examples, and said:
“I ask you 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.

His response was to threaten to Section me and asked his Corporate Lead to do it. I did write and tell her that I had consulted a solicitor before writing to her, 2-Sep-16:[2]

“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. He also suggested a civil court may not be be the best way forward but he did say that in his view we needed to raise a new complaint. The new complaint being the misinformation and/or misrepresentation by the Local Authority in supplying information to the LGO.

She did not raise a new complaint, instead said: “there was no evidence of the Council giving misinformation to the LGO and carried out her threat on October 9th.

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[2].

One needs to draw examples from the complaint that was referred to the Ombudsman and that I did. I had told Mrs Johnson much of what had I had told the CEO:

If you had reviewed the original complaint of the 10-Jan-2014 and the correspondence following it up to 13-February as I had asked of the Chief Executive you would have realised that the Planning had effectively agreed that the shed was 2.7m too high. He and I were discussing the height of the shed and he could no longer maintain the pretence that 8296/14 referred to the road end.

I then repeated part of #35 of the Ombudsman’s Findings: In January 2014 the Council wrote to Mr X about this. It said the overall structure on the plans is 15.5 metres at the land end and the foundations are 2.656 metres lower at the river end due to the gradient. . . Since then the Council has consistently told Mr X the shed is the correct height.

You have however continued to email Council officers on several occasions attempting to initiate further investigations into the dimensions of the build of the shed[3] and also the working hours of the site.[4]

The finished dimensions are a failure to meet the 2nd condition. Sunday working without prior notice is a breach of the 5th and she is deliberately conflating the two both the breaches. The site working hours are not relevant as the 5 th condition concerns the use of the shed.

Confirmation was provided to you following advice from the Council’s Planning Manager on 21 December 2016, that with regards to the control of general working hours at the site, in respect of planning no restrictions exist [3]. Again she is confusing the issue: 16. The Authority’s view is that condition 5 should not have been imposed because the site already had the benefit of unrestricted working hours. I cannot comment on this. I do not know how the business operated in 1996.

This matter was considered and responded to by the Local Government Ombudsman in response to the earlier complaint they investigated on your behalf.

The first complaint ever made by me about Sunday Working was on the 20-Dec-16. The Ombudsman’s final draft was completed in April 2015.

The matter was also considered in the committee report for the latest planning application for the site. The Committee report failed to mention that the existing shed was 2.7m taller than planned.

You were advised that as there are no restrictions to the working hours on site, it would only be evidence that a statutory noise nuisance existed which would allow the Council to take action regarding noise from Sunday working.

They were sent a dated photograph to show the shed was in use that Sunday. In 1996 there were rules and why the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation imposed the 5th condition.

You have emailed the Council on at least 15 occasions since 5 October 2016 and 12 of those emails contained references to your historic complaints with the UK Docks site.

It appears that she is counting CCs as separate emails and an email to the Head of Development Services was referred to CA as he did not wish to answer it which she presumably counted as 2.

Your complaints about those matters have been the subject of extensive investigation by the Council and the Local Government Ombudsman You have also attempted to raise these same historic matters recently with Councillor Anglin.

By 17-Jan-17, I had recorded 55 evasions and denial from September 2013, mainly about height of the shed. The incidence for Sunday working first occurs on 20-Dec-16.

Due to this continuation of unreasonable behaviour we must advise you that should you continue to raise these historic complaint issues we will take further steps and will no longer accept any contact from you by email.

I repeat – a single event is hardly persistent and if the approved plans suggest that a structure is taller then planned it is reasonable to suggest that is in breach of those plans]
We will block your email address from our computer systems and any future attempts to contact us using alternative email addresses will also be blocked.

  • Any complaints would then need to be made in writing to the Council via the Customer Advocacy Team, South Tyneside Council, Performance and Information Team, Strathmore, Rolling Mill Road, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, NE32 3DP.
  • They will ensure that any new issues you raise are dealt with appropriately but you will only receive a response to any new and substantive points of complaint you make.
  • You should raise any new general enquiries or requests for service with our Customer Contact Centre by telephone on 0191 427 7000.

The reasons for these restrictions are as follows:

  • Your chosen method of contact with us, ie numerous emails to different people and across the Council, make unnecessary demands on the time and resources of our staff, creating confusion as to who you expect to deal with the issues and receive a response from, should one be warranted;

  • You insist that your complaint is dealt with in ways that are incompatible with our adopted complaints procedure or good practice, for example by again attempting to introduce the issue of the base width of the boat shed which was part of the 2014 complaint and therefore considered by the Ombudsman

She has omitted the fact that the complaint of 2014 was, that the shed was 3m taller than planned and the Council have done nothing about it.

These further restrictions on your contact will come into effect immediately should you continue to email the Council with historic matters.

The complaint about Mrs Johnson’s misuse of Section F of her staff code remains on file!

Yours sincerely
Hayley Johnson
Corporate Lead Strategy and Performance

[1] South Tyneside Council still have not responded to  the original (historic) complaint, which was addressed to Planning Enquiries. It was removed some time between 10th January and 21st March 2014 so that the Principal Planning Officer did not have to admit that UK Docks had no approval for the shed, please see Shed and Corrption – Part 1.
The Planning Manager knew as well as I did that, that was a lie to claim that UK Docks had approval for the shed and when he wrote to 22 others and I, 21-Mar-14:

“Dear Mr Dawson, Thank you for your email. Before the Council makes any decisions on the planning aspects of this case, we need to have a full understanding of the history of the site, and analyse all the facts. This is a complex matter and will take some time. Regards – Gordon Atkinson.

[2] When the Corporate Lead said that the historical complaint, had already exhausted the Council’s complaints procedure, like the planning Manager, more than two years before, she was burying the issue of the shed’s height.

[3] A single event is hardly persistent and if the approved plans suggest that a structure is taller then planned it is reasonable to suggest that is in breach of those plans.

[3] The Authority imposed the 5th condition on the use of the shed – not the site, which may or may not have had any restrictions.