Sunday, 8 February 2009

Planning officer grants residential development on land a developer agreed (by legally binding Planning Agreement) to gift to council as public open space - Development Control Manager bungles and cover up

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Governemnt Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle
  3. Conclusions
  4. Photographs & Plans
What happened

Outline planning permission granted to developer, Story Construction Ltd (Story Homes), for residential development subject to a Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement). Planning condition required approval (prior to commencement of the development) for amenity tree planting scheme to extend the existing avenue of trees along either side of Garlands Road Carlisle. The Planning Agreement also required the developer to transfer to the council land as public open space, including the land to be planted with trees to extend the existing avenue trees.

Developer applies for reserved matters approval (2 planning applications). The plans showed houses with gardens on land that was to be transferred to the council as public open space and planted with trees to extend the existing avenue trees. The planning applications for reserved matters were in breach of the outline planning permission, in breach of the developer's covenants and obligations under the provisions of the Planning Agreement, and contrary to a previous decision of the council.

The council's Delegation of Council Functions to Council Officers (Scheme of Delegation) authorises the Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, to determine planning applications except where the determination would be contrary to a previous decision of either the Development Control Committee or the council. The 2 planning applications for reserved matters should have been referred to the Development Control Committee as they were contrary to the outline planning approval and Planning Agreement (a previous decision of the council).

The first planning application for reserved matters was not referred to the Development Control Committee. The Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, approved this planning application in contravention of the Council's Scheme of Delegation. That was maladministration.

The second planning application for reserved matters was referred to the Development Control Committee. The Development Control Manager wrote in his submission to the Committee that this application is brought before Members as the Scheme of Delegation cannot be used due to the fact that the two officers to whom delegated powers have been assigned (the Director and Head of Planning Services) are related to employees of the applicant company (Story Construction Ltd). But this was also the case with the first planning application for reserved matters that the Development Control Manager determined in contravention of the Scheme of Delegation.

The Development Control Manager's written submission to the Development Control Committee fails to inform the Members that the planning application was in breach of a condition of the outline permission, in breach of the developer's covenants in the Planning Agreement to transfer land to the council as public open space to extend the avenue of trees. He also failed to recommend to the Development Control Committee to refuse the planning application, or defer a decision to allow the developer to amend the plans so as to exclude the land to be transferred to the council as public open space from the house plots, and thus comply with the outline planning approval and the Planning Agreement. Instead, the Development Control Manager recommends approval. As a result, the council grants approval for houses whose front gardens are part of the land that the developer has covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space. The failure of the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, to inform the Development Control Committee that the planning application was contrary to the outline planning approval and would frustrate the developer's obligation to transfer land to the council as public open space, was maladministration.

The developer undertakes the residential development and sells the completed houses to various purchasers. A solicitor acting for one of the prospective purchasers writes to the council as the front garden of the house is shown in the Planning Agreement as land the developer had covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space. A number of the house plots were on land the developer had covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space.

The Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, now aware of his blunder, tries to cover it up. He informs the purchasers solicitor that the Planning Agreement will be varied to exclude the gardens from the land to be transferred to the council as public open space. In a memorandum to other council officers he blames the developer, and writes Story's solicitors appear to have erred in selling land that was intended under the section 106 Agreement to be transferred to the City Council as part of the overall open space provision. In fact it was the Development Control Manager who was at fault. It was the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, who granted approval (in contravention of the Council's Scheme of Delegation) for house plots on land to be transferred to the council as public open space. It was the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, who failed to inform the Development Control Committee that some of the house plots were on land to be transferred to the Council as public open space.

Resident notifies council of the breach of the planning condition for avenue tree planting, and the breach of covenant in the Planning Agreement to transfer the land to the council as public open space.

Resident makes formal complaint. The complaint was investigated by the Development Control Manager, Alan Talyor, the same inept council officer the resident had complained was at fault. Not surprisingly, the Development Control Manager finds he is not at fault.

Resident requests referral to Board of Arbitration of local councillors. Council officers ignore the request and disregard the council's complaints procedures.

December 2005. Complaint referred to Local Government Ombudsman.

August 2006. The Local Government Ombudsman Investigator, Richard Corney, finds that the issue of the trees in Garlands Road is clearly an issue of public importance. The evidence I have seen suggest the problem arose because of a mistake by the developer rather than the council, and concludes there is no useful purpose continuing the investigation and proposes to discontinue the investigation and close the complaint. Resident makes complaint to Deputy Ombudsman, Neil Hobbs, about Investigator.

September 2006. Deputy Ombudsman writes that he cannot uphold resident's complaint against Local Government Ombudsman Investigator. But LGO Investigator reverses earlier decision and decides to continue the investigation.

May 2007. Local Government Ombudsman final report. This concludes that the council was not at fault in not securing the transfer of the land on which the protected avenue of trees stood. That permission would not have over ruled the section 106 Agreement, which the council could have enforced had it so wished. I accept its reasoning that its main aim of ensuring that the trees are retained has been achieved in any event. This statement is typical of the incoherent, absurd nonsense written by the Local Government Ombudsman. The Local Government Ombudsman finding is perverse, irrational, unhinged, and contrary to any logical conclusion or commonsense. The public have been denied the right of the use and enjoyment of land as public open space due to the incompetence of the inept Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor; the aim of extending the existing avenue of trees has not been achieved; the few trees planted in the private gardens may be removed by the owners; the corrupt Local Government Ombudsman manipulates the facts, conceals the incriminating evidence of maladministration, and lacks the balls to report the truth.

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle


The Local Government Ombudsman conceals that the planning applications for reserved matters were in breach of the outline planning permission, and in breach of the Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement) to transfer land to the council as public open space. The LGO conceals the provisions of the council's Scheme of Delegation. The Local Government Ombudsman conceals that the Scheme of Delegation did not permit the Development Control Officer, Alan Taylor, to grant planning permission for reserved matters as the planning application was contrary to a previous decision of the council (the outline planning permission). The Local Government Ombudsman conceals that the Director and Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, had declared an interest in the developer (Story Construction Ltd.) and both planning applications for reserved matters should have been referred to the Development Control Committee. The LGO conceals that the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, failed to notify the Development Control Committee that the 2nd planning application for reserved matters was in breach of the outline planning permission and in breach of the Planning Agreement. The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

The Local Government Ombudsman are so corrupt and prejudiced in favour of councils that they include in their final report evidence relating to case law that was not disclosed to the resident/complainant or included in the draft report. The LGO denied the resident the opportunity to comment on the case law. In fact the case law referred to was irrelevant, as it gave no authority for a council officer to grant planning permission in contravention of a Scheme of Delegation.

The Local Government Ombudsman report is full of inaccuracies, errors and misrepresentations. For instance, the Local Government Ombudsman report states I do not accept Mr J's view that the exercise of delegated authority by the Development Control Officer was unlawful. The resident never stated that view. The resident stated the Development Control Manager acted without delegated authority. The LGO is so corrupt they misrepresent the evidence, and so inept they do not know the difference between unlawful and without authority.

The Local Government Ombudsman findings contradicts the evidence. For instance, the LGO report states nor do I accept that a planning application relating to one aspect of a legal agreement arising out of previous permissions for the whole development meant that the matter had to be referred to the Committee. That statement is perverse, irrational, unhinged, and contradicts the provisions of the Scheme of Delegation. The Scheme of Delegation specifically authorises the Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, to determine planning applications except where the determination would be contrary to a previous decision of either the Development Control Committee or the council.

The Local Government Ombudsman wilfully misrepresents the facts, manipulates evidence, and peddles the lies and deceit or inept council officers. Council officers claimed that Leisure Services were not in favour of acquiring the open space land. But the Local Government Ombudsman fails to mention that Leisure Services did not make any such representations to the Development Control Committee when the outline planning permission was determined, or when the reserved matter planning applications were determined. The LGO fail to mention that Leisure Services expressed no opinion until after the Development Control Manager's blunder had come to light. The LGO fails to mention that the developer had covenanted to pay a commuted sum of £41200 to the council to cover the cost of maintenance of the open space land. The LGO fails to mention that the open space land was no different to other verge land in the ownership of the council. The corrupt Local Government Ombudsman conceal relevant facts and salient evidence.

The Local Government Ombudsman's finding that the council was not at fault in not securing the transfer of the land on which the protected avenue of trees stood contradicts their own guidelines. The Local Government Ombudsman guidance entitled Good Administrative Practice states that delegation power should not be misinterpreted or misapplied. The guidance gives examples of maladministration where planning officers determine planning applications without delegated authority to do so. But when evidence is given that the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, determined a planning application for reserved matters in contravention of the Scheme of Delegation, the corrupt LGO ignores their own guidance and conceals the evidence.  The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

The Local Government Ombudsman report distorts and conceals the truth, and their reasoning is perverse, irrational and unhinged.

The Local Government Ombudsman report states. I accept its [the council's] reasoning that its main aim of ensuring that the trees are retained has been achieved in any event. That was not the case. The existing trees were already protected by a Tree Preservation Order. The aim specified in the outline planning permission and Planning Agreement was to extend the existing avenue of trees, and to transfer it to the council as public open space. The few trees that have planted are not protected trees and they may be felled at anytime by the house owners. The public have been denied the right and benefit of the use of the land as public open space. The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

The Local Government Ombudsman report states. That permission [the planning permission for reserved matters] would not have over ruled the section 106 Agreement, which the council could have enforced had it so wished. That statement is irrational, perverse and incorrect. The council could not enforce the Planning Agreement as they had given implied consent to waive the covenant of the developer to transfer part of the land to the council as public open space by granting planning permission for houses and gardens on that land, although the Development Control Manager did not have the delegated authority to grant that planning permission. Alternatively, if the grant of planning permission is not considered to be implied consent to waive the covenant in the Planning Agreement, then there is no rational reason why the council should not enforce the covenant in the Planning Agreement as that is what the Planning Committee had approved in the outline planning permission and the Planning Agreement. The LGO report fails to mention these facts.

Conclusions

The Local Government Ombudsman report is a blatant whitewash of the truth and cover up of council maladministration causing injustice. The LGO findings are based on the lies and deceit of inept and incompetent council officers who lack the integrity to admit their mistakes, and deliberately conceals incriminating evidence of council maladministration causing injustice. The LGO reasons are perverse, irrational, unhinged, and contrary to any logical conclusion or commonsense.

Local residents have been denied the amenity benefit of the use and enjoyment of land that should have been transferred to the council as public open space, but instead is now private gardens. The extension of the avenue of trees has not been achieved, and the few trees that have been planted are not protected, and may be felled at any time by the house owners.

Any rational and impartial person in possession of the full facts would come to the conclusion that the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, acted without delegated authority in contravention of the Scheme of Delegation, and it was the Development Control Manager's fault that the council granted planning permission for houses on land that the developer had covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space. But the Local Government Ombudsman is neither rational or impartial. The LGO cover up council maladministration.

Council oficers were determined that the Local Government Ombudsman should conceal the incriminating evidence disclosed by the resident because the truth was too embarrassing to the council. If the LGO had found maladministration causing injustice in respect of the open space land, the cost of remedying the fault would be substantial. The council would either have had to acquire the land by compulsory purchase and compensate the house owners, or otherwise try to enforce the Planning Agreement. But it would have been difficult for the council to enforce the Planning Agreement as they had given implied consent to waive the covenant of the developer to transfer the land to the council as public open space by granting planning permission for houses and gardens on that land. Furthermore, the Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, had declared an interest in the developer, Story Construction Ltd, and the Director of Planning Services, also had an interest in the developer, Story Construction Ltd.

Photographs & Plans



The above plan from the Planning Agreement shows the open space land coloured green. Garlands Road is shown coloured purple. The developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer the open space land to the council. Part of the 'open space' land adjacent Garlands Road are now private gardens, not public open space, and has not been transferred to the council.



The above photograph shows the front gardens of dwellings adjoining the west side of Garlands Road. These gardens are part of the land the developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space to extend the existing avenue trees. The mature trees in the background are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, the young trees in the foreground are not.



The above photograph shows the front gardens of dwellings adjoining the east side of Garlands Road. These gardens are part of the land the developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space to extend the existing avenue trees. The trees in the photograph are not subject to any Tree Preservation Order.



The above photograph shows part of the fronts gardens of dwellings adjoining the east side of Garlands Road. Part of these gardens are land the developer, Story Construction Ltd, covenanted to transfer to the council as public open space to extend the existing avenue trees. The mature trees in the background are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, and are part of the existing avenue of trees in Garlands Road.



The above photograph shows part of the public open space and some of the existing avenue trees adjoining Garlands Road. The trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order.



The above photograph shows some of the mature avenue trees adjoining Garlands Road.

Planning officers turn blind eye to football pitch destroyed by developer

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle
  3. Comments and conclusions
  4. Photographs and Plans
What happened

March 2001. Planning permission granted for residential development subject to a Planning Agreement and a planning condition that a football pitch would be retained. The Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement) required Story Construction Ltd (Story Homes) to transfer the football pitch (plus a commuted sum of £8280) to the council within 12 months of completion of the Planning Agreement (i.e. by 23 March 2002). The council took no action to effect the transfer of the football pitch to the council by the due date. The developers commenced residential development on adjoining land.

2003/2004. The developers, Senator Homes and Story Homes, destroyed the football pitch in breach of the planning condition to retain it, and in breach of the Planning Agreement to transfer it to the council by 23 March 2002. Senator Homes used half of the football pitch as a site compound for the storage of building materials and plant. Story Homes used the other half of the football pitch for the dumping and storage of topsoil and spoil from their adjoining residential development. Planning officers were aware that the developers had destroyed the football pitch, but took no action. The Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, declared an interest in Story Construction Ltd. The Director of Planning Services also had an interest in Story Construction Ltd.

November 2004. Resident notifies council that football pitch had been destroyed. Enforcement officer inspects.

February/March 2005. Enforcement officer writes that the site would be drained, levelled, and grass seeded in the spring/early summer. This did not happen. The developers top soil the site, but do not grass seed, and leave the site as waste ground.

August 2005. Resident makes formal complaint to council.

September 2005. The developer grass seeds the site, but reinstatement is substandard. There is standing water due to soil compaction, and the developer has to return to carry out drainage work. Reinstatement was not carried out to the standards specified in the Sport England design guidance Natural Turf for Sport. Developer reinstates the site as open space and not as a football pitch. Resident requests referral to Board of Arbitration of local councillors. Council officers ignore the request and disregard the council's complaints procedures.

December 2005. Resident refers complaint to Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).
May 2007. Local Government Ombudsman finds no fault and conceals documented evidence of maladministration causing injustice.
November 2008. Goal posts are erected on the reinstated football pitch (the council had earlier told the LGO there was no demand for football pitches in the area).

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle

The council failed to uphold the obligation in the Planning Agreement and acquire the football pitch before 23 March 2002 together with the commuted payment of £8280. Instead they allowed the football pitch to be destroyed by the developers. That was maladministration. The loss of the football pitch was an injustice to the residents. The Local Government Ombudsman conceal this evidence.

The Council's Local Plan Policy L10 prohibits any development which will result in the loss or encroachment upon school or private playing fields or play space. The council’s Planning Enforcement Policy states the Council will uphold the objectives of the planning policies contained within the Development Plan (which includes the council's Local Plan) and will take action against significant breaches of planning permissions and against development which has not been given approval. But planning officers failed to take action against the developers when they first became aware the developers had destroyed the football pitch in breach of a planning condition. The planning officers did nothing until a resident notified the council that the football pitch had been destroyed. That was maladministration causing injustice. The Local Government Ombudsman conceals this evidence.

The council failed to require the developer reinstate the site as a football pitch in accordance with the planning condition, and to reinstate to the standards specified in the Sport England design guidance Natural Turf for Sport. That was maladministration causing injustice. The Local Government Ombudsman conceals this evidence.

The Local Government Ombudsman report distorts the facts to give a false impression, and peddles the lies of council officers. For instance, the Local Government Ombudsman states there has been some problems in getting work carried out to the standard required by the council - for instance the developer re-seeded a football pitch that was to be retained, it was not done well enough and the council got the developer to re-do it. The complainant accepts this has been done. That statement is untrue and deliberately misleading. The developer did not re-seed the football pitch twice. The complainant did not accept this was done, informed the Local Government Ombudsman of this in writing, but the LGO conceals this.

The facts were that the council failed to transfer the football pitch to the council by 23 March 2002 in accordance with the terms of the Planning Agreement. The commuted sum of £8280 was not paid to the council. The council allowed the developers to destroy the football pitch in breach of a Planning Agreement and planning condition requiring it to be retained. The developers used the football pitch as a site compound and soil dump without planning approval. The developers delayed undertaking reinstatement works, and after grass seeding the site, the developers had to come back to carry out drainage work to remove standing water caused by soil compaction. The reinstatement was substandard, and the land was reinstated as public open space. The Local Government Ombudsman report conceals these facts.

The corrupt Local Government Ombudsman peddle the lies and deceit of council officers. The Local Government Ombudsman report states the council says there is no demand for football pitches in the area. The land is available for informal play and could be marked out in the future if demand existed. But the LGO conceals that the Planning Agreement and planning permission required the football pitch to be retained; conceals that there is no public football pitch in the locality; conceals that the deposited Local Plan identifies the site as Primary Leisure Area; and conceals that the council's Local Plan Policy L10 prohibits any development which will result in the loss or encroachment upon school or private playing fields or play space. The Local Government Ombudsman report fails to mention any of these facts.

Council officers prevent the resident from putting the complaint before a Board of Arbitration of local councillors, so as to conceal the complaint from councillors and force the resident to refer the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, in the knowledge that the Local Government Ombudsman is not impartial and is known to cover up council maladministration.

Comments and conclusions

The Local Government Ombudsman finding that the council were not at fault is clear evidence that the LGO are corrupt, prejudiced in favour of councils, deliberately conceal incriminating evidence of maladministration, do not act in the public interest, and condone council malpractice and incompetence. The LGO's decision is perverse, irrational, and unhinged.

Photographs and Plans
  


Above photograph shows the site of the football pitch destroyed by developers Story Construction Ltd and Senator Homes. The foreground shows subsoil and part of what was a massive soil bund (top right) prior to reinstatement.



Another photograph of the site of football pitch destroyed by developers Story Construction Ltd and Senator Homes. The foreground shows subsoil and part of what was a massive soil bund (top right) prior to reinstatement. The darker coloured soil (top left - below block of apartments) is the topsoil that has been reinstated prior to grass seeding.



Above photograph shows the site of the football pitch destroyed by the developers Story Construction Ltd and Senator Homes. The foreground shows the topsoil prior to grass seeding. The substandard reinstatement work is evident.



The above plan is from the Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement). The top right of the plan (within the area coloured green) shows the football (soccer) pitch to be retained.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Protected trees unlawfully felled - Tree Preservation Order sham and planning officer blunders

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Governemnt Ombudsman peddle
  3. Conclusions and Comments
  4. Photographs
What happened

September 1999. Carlisle City Council makes Garlands Hospital Tree Preservation Order (TPO) covering 227 trees. The TPO and Policy E18 of the council's Local Plan seeks to protect amenity trees from development.   

September 2000 to October 2004. Carlisle City Council grant a number of planning permissions for residential development at the former Garlands Hospital. The developer, Story Construction Ltd. (Story Homes) applies for a series of consents to fell protected trees, 35 in total. The council grants consent to fell 24 trees without any replanting conditions, and 11 trees with replanting conditions, but fails to enforce the replanting conditions.

In April 2004 the council granted consent to fell 6 TPO trees subject to replanting replacement trees in the next planting season, and a landscape scheme to be submitted by November 2004. Later in July 2004 the council granted consent to fell 9 TPO trees subject to a landscape scheme for replanting to be submitted by 23 July 2004. No replacement trees were planted. Replacement trees should have been planted by the end of March 2005. The council failed to take any enforcement action to require the developer to replace any of these TPO trees.

The developer applied to crown thin a tree (T22), but the council officer granted consent to fell it in error. The council tried to cover up the error up by claiming the council officer had agreed that the tree could be felled. But there was no file record of this. It is also contrary to Department of Environment guidance for a council to give a decision that substantially alters the work applied for.

The developer applied to fell 2 yew trees (T160 and T161), and the council officer granted consent to fell 2 yew trees (T161 and T162), but one of them was not a tree the developer had applied to fell. The council had granted consent to fell the wrong yew tree. The developer felled the 2 yew trees they had applied to fell (T160 and T161). As a result, the developer unlawfully felled one of the yew trees (T160). Rather than admit their mistake, the council tried to cover it up. The Tree Officer, Charles Bennett, stated the felling application was amended to fell T161 and T162, and T160 was felled to build an access ramp to the building. But there was no file record of any amendment to the felling application, and there is no access ramp to the building. The developer's approved plans clearly showed the location of the trees, and they were some distance from the access to the building. No replacement yew trees were planted. Recently 1 yew tree has been planted. The council has taken no action to enforce the replacement of the 2nd yew tree.

Two TPO trees (T41 and T44) situated on either side of a new entrance into the development were felled without consent. The plans approved by the council (under their planning permission) show the 2 trees are not within the footprint of the new entrance, nor do the plans indicate that these 2 trees are to be removed, although the plans do indicate that other trees are to be removed.

April 2005. Resident notifies council of the felling of T41 and T44. The council attempt to mislead the resident into believing the trees were lawfully felled. The Tree Officer wrote the 2 trees were removed to accommodate the new entrance. That was incorrect. The approved plans showed the trees outside the footprint of the entrance. Later the Local Plans & Conservation Manager, Chris Hardman, wrote the trees were felled for health reasons and as a consequence of the implementation of planning permission. Due to the impact on underground services and in relation to loss of light, both were inspected on site and found that one was rotten and the other had 80% die back in the crown. This statement was incorrect and a deliberate attempt to cover up the true facts.

Trees T41 and T44 did not prevent the developer from constructing the entrance or installing services. Nor was there any contemporaneous file record of any inspection of the trees, or that the trees were rotten or had dieback. There are contemporaneous file notes of inspections of other TPO trees in the vicinity, but not T41 and T44. There is no file record of a date of inspection of T41 & T44, nor a record of any request for these trees to be inspected. The planning permissions also included planning conditions to ensure the protection of retained trees, which included these TPO trees.

A length of beech hedge (adjacent to trees T41 and T44) along the frontage of Sycamore Lane had also been grubbed out by the developer. The approved plan noted that this hedge was to be retained and strengthened. The council attempted to mislead the resident into believing that the beech hedge had been removed to implement the planning permission. The Tree Officer wrote the beech hedge has also been removed as part of the development to allow for the new entrance. This statement was a deliberate attempt by the Tree Officer to cover up the true facts. Part of the beech hedge was removed to allow for the new entrance, but the remainder of the beech hedge was not to be removed. The approved plan clearly states that the beech hedge along Sycamore Lane on either side of the new entrance was to be retained and strengthened.

Another tree ( T1961) had been felled without consent; the stump showed evidence of butt rot. The Town & Country Planning Act 1990 permits the felling of a TPO tree that is dying, dead or has become dangerous. But the Act also requires the landowner to plant a replacement tree at the same place as soon as is reasonable. No replacement tree had been planted. A replacement tree should have been planted at the beginning of the planting season in October 2004.

Another tree (T23) was removed without consent, but the developer claims this was windblown and thus exempt from consent.

August 2005. The resident submits formal complaints to the council on the grounds that council officers erroneously gave consent for the felling of protected trees; failed to take action over the unlawful felling of protected trees; and failed to enforce replanting conditions of protected trees or statutory obligations to replant protected trees. These complaints were investigated by the Local Plans and Conservation Manager, who concluded that there had been delays, but these were not unacceptable, and there had been no contravention of the Tree Preservation Order.

September 2005. Resident requests referral of the complaints to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors in accordance with the Council's complaints procedures. Council officers ignores repeated requests for a Board of Arbitration.

December 2005. Resident refers complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.

August 2006. Local Government Ombudsman Investigator, Richard Corney, records evidence of maladministration on 2 accounts: (1) the consent to fell T22 (incorrectly referred in the letter as T21) when the application was to crown thin T22 and (2) the consent to fell T161 and T162 when the application was to fell T160 and T161. But the inept Investigator also erroneously stated he was not aware that the developer has taken any steps to remove the tree [T22] when in fact this tree had been felled, and he was shown the location of T22 when he made an inspection. The inept Investigator goes no to state no injustice flows from this, and these errors have not, on the face of it, caused lasting damage and I do not see that there is much that can be done about what has happened.

The Local Government Ombudsman Investigator perversely finds that trees T41 and T44 were felled in accordance with the planning permission, when the facts do not support this, and the documentary evidence shows to the contrary that these trees were unlawfully felled. The Investigator also fails to mention anything about the failure of the council to enforce replanting conditions and the statutory requirement to replant TPO trees that have been felled lawfully or otherwise.

The Investigator concludes no useful purpose would be served by continuing the investigation and proposes to discontinue the investigation and close the complaint. Resident makes complaint to the Deputy Ombudsman, Neil Hobbs, about the Investigator. LGO Investigator had misrepresented the facts, concealed and ignored evidence of maladministration causing injustice, and failed to follow LGO guidance.

September 2006. Deputy Ombudsman declines to uphold the resident's complaint against LGO Investigator and finds no fault. But perversely the LGO reverses their earlier decision and decides to continue the investigation.

May 2007. Local Government Ombudsman report reverses their earlier decision and finds maladministration causing injustice, but fails to recommend remedies in accordance with LGO guidance. Contrary to their earlier letter, the Local Government Ombudsman report finds that trees T41 and T44 were removed without permission, but the LGO misrepresent the facts and wilfully conceal damning evidence of maladministration. The LGO find the council at fault in respect of felling consents relating to trees T22, T160, T161 and T162, but again conceal incriminating evidence of maladministration.

The report mentions the council omitted to include replanting conditions in felling consents, and recommends that if permission is granted for felling protected trees on the basis of disease, replacements should be requested . But the report fails to recommend the council to take any action to enforce replanting conditions where felling consents were granted on condition of replanting with trees or where there is a statutory requirement to replant.

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle

The Local Government Ombudsman report states that an officer [Investigator] of the Commission has examined the council's files. What the report does not say is that the Investigator and the Local Government Ombudsman concealed evidence contained in those files of maladministration and deliberately failed to disclose that evidence in the LGO's report.
 
The TPO file records that officers of the council gave consent to fell 35 TPO trees; of these 24 have no replanting conditions (and there is no record as to why there is no replanting condition); 11 have replanting conditions, but no replanting has been carried out bar 2 trees. A further 3 TPO trees were unlawfully felled; 2 TPO tree were windblown; another 12 TPO trees felled were deemed to be exempt from felling consent, and 4 TPO trees were felled under a planning approval. A total of 54 TPO have been felled, that is 24 % of the total TPO trees (see Appendix A for details). The Local Government Ombudsman report conceals these facts.

There is no need for a TPO tree to be felled, or consent granted for it to be felled, unless it is either dying, dead or has become dangerous. A dead tree is easily recognised; the symptoms of a dying tree can often be seen; but it is often impossible to ascertain whether a tree is dangerous without carrying out auger borings of the trunk to ascertain the extent of any decay/rot. A competent arboriculturalist (Tree Officer) would do this. The council failed to do this. Instead, if there is any evidence of decay, the council officer grants a felling consent or deem the tree to be exempt from felling consent, without knowing for certain the extent of the rot/decay and that the tree is dangerous. As a result, council officers have been responsible for the felling of 54 TPO trees (24% of the total). Had the council employed a competent arboriculturalist to take auger borings, it is likely that a fraction of these 54 TPO trees would have needed to be felled.

The planning permissions included planning conditions to ensure the protection of retained trees, which included most of the TPO trees. The conditions required that existing trees to be retained shall be protected by a suitable barrier erected at a distance from the trunk or hedge specified by the local planning authority .... and .... protective fencing shall be erected around the canopy areas of the major trees identified on the proposed layout plan. The developer did not comply with these conditions, and the council failed to enforce them. As a result, some TPO trees were damaged and later died, and other TPO trees were unlawfully felled. The Local Government Ombudsman omits to mention these facts in the report.  

The Local Government Ombudsman report fails to refer to Policy E18 of the council's Local Plan, and failed to take account of it in their report.

Policy E18 of the council's Local Plan states that trees which contribute to amenity will be protected by means of a tree preservation order.... particular attention will be given to trees that are on sites where there are proposals for development, to ensure not only that the significant trees are protected, but that the development works and proposed buildings do not prejudice the future of the trees.....the City Council will therefore seek to ensure that any future development preserves the trees within the existing grounds and parkland landscape, and also the amenity of the wider rural area....if it is subsequently found that some trees need to be felled for the purposes of good management, the provisions of the tree preservation order can secure their replacement, if appropriate, therefore ensuring continuity of tree cover.

It is quite clear that council officers failed to uphold Policy E18. Council officers have allowed 54 TPO trees to be felled (24% of the total) in less than 8 years after making the TPO. Had planning permission not been granted for development, it is highly likely that most of the 54 TPO tress felled would not have been felled. The Local Government Ombudsman conceal these facts.

Policy E18 states that if some TPO trees need to be felled for the purposes of good management, the TPO Order can secure their replacement, if appropriate, therefore ensuring continuity of tree cover. But council officers failed to uphold this provision. Council officers failed to enforce replanting conditions of felling consents, failed to enforce the statutory requirement to replant trees that have been unlawfully felled or are exempt from consent, and granted consent to fell TPO trees without replanting conditions, and without reason. The Local Government Ombudsman report conceals this breach of Policy E18, although the report does mention that the council omitted to include replanting conditions in felling consents.

The Local Government Ombudsman's published guidance states that where an injustice has been caused by maladministration, we seek a remedy that would, so far as possible, put the complainant back into the position he or she would have been in but for the fault .... and ...we aim to get things put right if we find they have gone wrong. It is quite clear that things have gone wrong. Council officers have allowed the felling of a significant number of protected trees contrary to Policy E18. To make matters worse the inept council officers failed in some cases to include replanting replanting conditions, and in other cases failed to enforce replanting conditions, or the statutory duty to replant. It is not possible to put back the trees that have been felled, but it is possible for the LGO to recommend that the council take action to ensure replacement trees are planted to ensure continuity of tree cover. The replanting of replacement trees is clearly in the public interest. But the Local Government Ombudsman does not abide by their own guidance, and fails to make such a recommendation.

The Local Government Ombudsman report manipulate the facts in favour of the council by concealing evidence that reveals council officers' lies and deceit. For instance, an application was made to crown reduce tree T22, but the council officer erroneously gave consent to fell tree T22. The government guidance on this is quite clear, it states the Local Planning Authority must decide the application before them; they should not issue a decision which substantially alters the work applied for. The Local Government Ombudsman report does not mention this fact. Instead, the LGO report says the council's Tree Officer believes that the tree must have been found to be diseased on the site visit as it is the only one in a line of trees to be felled... and ...there would have been no benefit to the developer in felling it unless it was necessary. This statement is a lie and deceit. Tree T22 was one of 9 trees in a line, plus 2 adjacent trees, all of which were felled. This tree and the other 10 trees that were felled were in close proximity to the development, and blocked light to the buildings. The developer benefited from removing trees that blocked light into the windows of the building. The Local Government Ombudsman report fails to mention these facts, and wilfully conceals this evidence.

The Local Government Ombudsman defines maladministration as including making misleading or inaccurate statements. But when evidence is given that council officers deliberately made inaccurate or misleading statements, the LGO conceal these facts. The Local Government Ombudsman report found that the council granted consent (in error) to fell the wrong tree; an application was made to fell trees T160 and T161, but the council officer gave consent to fell trees T161 and T162 (the LGO report refers to trees A, B and C). But what the LGO conceal is that the council's Tree Officer attempted to cover up the error and mislead the resident into believing that no mistake had been made.

The Tree Officer wrote T160 was felled due to its location, this being where the access ramp to the building has been built. This statement was a lie. T160 was not felled so that an access ramp to the building could be built. There are no access ramps. The site plan approved under the planning permission clearly shows the location of T160. It is some distance away from the access points into the building and the new path linking those access points. The felling of T160 was not required to implement the planning permission. The Tree Officer also wrote that the application to fell trees T160 and T161 was later amended to felling T161 and T162. This was another lie. There is no documentary record on the TPO file of any amendment to the felling application. And the Local Plans & Conservation Manager wrote T160 has been felled with consent. Another lie. The Council gave consent to fell T161 and T162, it did not grant consent to fell T160. The biased Local Government Ombudsman conceals the council officers lies, deceit and misleading statements, and deliberately fails to mention them in the report.  

The Local Government Ombudsman defines maladministration as including incorrect action or failure to take action, delay, or making misleading or inaccurate statements. But when the Local Government Ombudsman is given evidence of this, the LGO fail to mention it in their report and conceal the evidence. For instance, the Local Government Ombudsman report found that trees T41 and T44 were removed without permission. The Tree Officer wrote that these trees were removed to accommodate the new entrance into the development. This was incorrect. The approved plans showed the trees outside the footprint of the entrance, and the trees were not marked on the plan to be removed. The planning permission also was subject to conditions to ensure the protection of retained trees. Thus, the Tree Officer's statement was incorrect and misleading, but the Local Government Ombudsman conceals these facts.

The Local Plans & Conservation Manager wrote the trees were felled for health reasons and as a consequence of the implementation of planning permission. Due to the impact on underground services and in relation to loss of light, both were inspected on site and found that one was rotten and the other had 80% die back in the crown. This statement was incorrect and a deliberate attempt to cover up the true facts. Trees T41 and T44 did not prevent the developer from constructing the entrance or installing services. Nor was there any contemporaneous file record of any inspection of the trees, or that the trees were rotten or had dieback. There are contemporaneous file notes of inspections of other TPO trees in the vicinity, but not T41 and T44. There is no file record of a date of inspection of T41 & T44, nor a record of any request for these trees to be inspected. The planning permissions also included planning conditions to ensure the protection of retained trees, which included these TPO trees. The Local Government Ombudsman report conceals this evidence.

The Local Government Ombudsman report refers to an e-mail from a council officer who allegedly inspected the trees and confirming that they were terminally diseased. But the Local Government Ombudsman report fails to disclose that the date of the e-mail was in August 2005, over 4 months after the resident had reported the felling of the trees. The LGO report confirms that the council officer was confused about the the identity of the trees in question...and... in fact the trees he inspected were at another part of the site. But the LGO report does not disclose that the Investigator's earlier letter had stated that the council officer never inspected T41 and T44 .. and ..another officer who did carry out felling on the site says that when he visited to carry out work, the two trees in question had already gone. The Local Government Ombudsman's report tried to conceal that the developer had employed the Council's Works Department to carry out felling of TPO trees, although the report does conclude that ... the trees were removed without permission.

In the absence of any evidence that T41 and T44 were dead, dying, or dangerous, there is only one conclusion the LGO should have made, and that was T41 and T44 were unlawfully felled, and council officers deliberately tried to mislead the resident into believing the trees were lawfully felled, and failed to take any legal or enforcement action over the unlawfully felling of two protected trees. Council officers attempted a cover up and failed, the Local Government Ombudsman tried to do likewise, and also failed.

The Local Government Ombudsman then tries to water down the significance of the council's maladministration. The LGO report quotes the council's Tree Officer who stated that had the developer applied for permission to fell the trees, it is likely that it would have been granted anyway as the species involved (a silver birch and a sycamore) are not of great importance. But what the inept Local Government Ombudsman failed to mention is that trees are included in a TPO because they merit protection. If they were not of great importance, they would have been excluded from the TPO when the TPO was made in 1999. The TPO comprised 227 trees, of which 63 were sycamores and 6 silver birches. It is irrational, perverse, and unhinged to say that a TPO tree is not of importance, and even more incredulous to imply that 30% of the TPO trees are not of importance, and permission would be given to fell them. The statement of the Tree Officer, Charles Bennett, merely undermines his credibility, and shows that the council's TPO is a sham. The Local Government Ombudsman's report conceals this evidence.

Conclusions and Comments

The Council's Tree Preservation Order No 148 (Garlands Hospital) is a sham. The TPO and Policy E18 purport to protect trees that enhance the amenity of an area, particularly on sites where there are proposals for development. But this does not happen. Instead council officers permit the felling of 54 protected trees (24%) of the total trees in the TPO. Inept, incompetent, and disreputable council officers treat the TPO with contempt, ignore the council's tree protection policies, and try to cover up their errors and blunders with lies and deceit. These are the actions of officers who have no integrity.
The Local Government Ombudsman finds maladminisration causing injustice, but deliberately conceals other incriminating evidence of council maladministration, lies and deceit.

Photographs



The above photograph shows TPO tree T227, an oak tree. An application was made to fell T277. The council granted consent to remove some lower branches but not consent to fell. The developer, Story Construction Ltd, then carried ground works around the tree resulting in the formation of a lagoon. Oak trees do not like to stand in water. The result was the tree died and was subsequently felled. Despite planning conditions to ensure the protection of retained trees, including T227, these were ignored by the developer, and the council officers failed to enforce them. The Local Government Ombudsman Investigator just shrugged his shoulders when showed this.



The above photograph shows tree T227 today. You can just see the old stump in the foreground in the centre of the photograph. This is the site of just one of the 54 TPO trees that have been felled. There is a statutory obligation on the owner to plant a replacement tree as soon as reasonably possible after felling. You can see no replacement tree has been planted. The council have not taken any action to enforce the statutory replanting requirement, and the corrupt Local Government Ombudsman connive with the council and fails to recommend the council enforce statutory obligations.



The above photograph shows the new entrance into Twickenham Court. On either side of the entrance stood TPO trees T41 and T44 which were unlawfully felled. This was done so that the existing beech hedge could be replaced with metal railings. You can see the beech hedge in the background. The beech hedge extended along the whole frontage of Sycamore Lane adjoining the development site. The approved plans showed that the beech hedge would be retained and strengthened. The developer, Story Construction Ltd grubbed out the beech hedge.

There is a statutory obligation on the owner to plant replacement trees as soon as reasonably possible after felling. You can see no replacement trees have been planted. The council have not taken any action to enforce the statutory replanting requirement, and the corrupt Local Government Ombudsman connive with the council and fails to recommend the council enforce statutory obligations.



The above photograph shows works in progress for the laying of a sewer pipe. The tree in the centre of the photograph is TPO tree T152. The Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, wrote these works are necessary to re-route the sewer and do not require planning permission. They are not construction works relating to the housing development and therefore not covered by planning conditions relating to the protection of trees. This statement is incorrect, contradictory, and more deceit. The sewer is a private sewer until adopted by United Utilities. A private sewer requires planning permission unless approval for it had been granted under another planning permission for residential development. The sewer took foul water/sewage from the Senator Homes development. Either the construction of the sewer is unauthorised development, or it is subject to existing planning conditions requiring the protection of retained trees.

The Head of Planning Services ignored breaches of planning requirements and the council's Policy E18 on the protection of TPO trees. In addition, the Head of Planning Services made the decision not to uphold the council's Policy E18 or enforce planning requirements on a matter in which he had declared an interest. The contractor employed to carry out the work was Story Construction Ltd, and the Head of Planning Services had declared an interest in Story Construction Ltd.



The above photograph shows a closer view of the works in progress laying a sewer pipe. It also shows that the council's policy on protected trees is nothing more than a sham.




The above photograph was taken in the autumn during the course of development work. The developer filled in an open ditch and carried out ground works close to the trees resulting in water logging of the area. There were planning conditions to ensure the protection of retained trees, including TPO trees, but the planning officers failed to enforce them. Five of the trees shown in the foreground were felled, but only one of these trees had butt rot.



The above photograph shows the same view as the previous photograph after felling five of the trees and completion of the development.

Appendix A - List of TPO trees felled

T7, T8, T10, T11, T12, T18, T20, T21, T22, T28
T36, T37, T38, T67, T74, T75, T76, T77, T78, T79
T81, T90, T91, T92, T93, T94, T96, T98, T117, T118
T136, T141, T161, T193, T178, T183, T184, T189, T41, T44
T160, T23, T196, T149, T19, T120, T113, T95, T57, T64
T224, 225, T227, T157
Total = 54

Council officers fail to enforce landscape planning conditions

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone, and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle
  3. Comments and conclusions
  4. Photographs & Plans
What happened

March 2001. Outline planning permission granted to developer, Story Construction Ltd (Story Homes), for residential development for 230 homes subject to a Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement). The permission was conditional upon the developer submitting a landscaping scheme for each phase of the development prior to commencement of the development, tree planting to be completed within 6 months of the relocation of the cricket pitch (i.e. by October 2004), and all open space areas to be transferred to Carlisle City Council not later than 4 years from the commencement of the development (i.e. by August 2005).

Story Construction Ltd sold part the the development site to McAlpine Homes (Senator Homes). Both developers commenced the development without an approved landscape scheme in breach of planning conditions.

August 2004. Senator Homes completed their development.

November 2004. Resident notifies council of breach of landscaping conditions. On the Senator Homes development there was an approved development plan that showed tree planting, but no landscaping scheme was ever submitted for approval. Much of the tree planting and some grass seeding of landscape areas had not been carried out. On the Story Homes development, there was no landscape scheme for the open space areas around the football pitch, and no tree planting had been undertaken. The Planning Agreement required the tree planting to be completed by October 2004 (6 months after relocation of cricket pitch). Enforcement officer contacts the developers.

Both developers delay in remedying the breach of landscaping conditions. Resident complains to council. Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, declares an interest in Story Construction Ltd. The Director of Planning Services also had an interest in Story Construction Ltd.

August 2005. Resident makes formal complaint to council. The Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, investigates the complaint and concludes that the council has acted entirely correctly and that enforcement action is not appropriate.

September 2005. Resident requests referral of the complaint to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors. Council officers ignore the request and disregard the council's complaints procedures. Developers carry out some grass seeding.

December 2005. Resident refers complaint to Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

March 2006. Story Homes carries out some tree and shrub planting.

August 2006. Local Government Ombudsman Investigator, Richard Corney, concludes there is no useful purpose continuing the investigation and proposes to discontinue the investigation and close the complaint. Resident makes complaint to the Deputy Ombudsman, Neil Hobbs, about Investigator. LGO Investigator had misrepresented the facts, concealed and ignored evidence of maladministration causing injustice, and failed to follow Local Government Ombudsman guidance.

September 2006. Deputy Ombudsman declines to uphold the resident's complaint against Local Government Ombudsman Investigator and finds no fault. But LGO reverses their earlier decision and decides to continue the investigation.

March 2007. Assistant Ombudsman, Chris Cobley, submits a draft report to the resident/complainant and the council for comment. In response, the resident submits detailed evidence to the Assistant Ombudsman of errors, inaccuracies, deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, concealment of evidence of maladministration, and failure to follow Local Government Ombudsman guidance. The Assistant Ombudsman conceals the resident's evidence and fails to disclose it the final report.

May 2007. Local Government Ombudsman report finds maladministration causing injustice in part, but fails to recommend a remedy in accordance with LGO guidance. In respect of the Senator Homes development, the Local Government Ombudsman concludes that the failure of the council to take action when the developer did not submit a landscape scheme was maladministration. But in respect of Story Homes development, the Local Government Ombudsman concludes that there was a landscaping scheme in existence, that is well on its way to full implementation, and there is no reason to criticise the council. The latter is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts; it highlights how the Local Government Ombudsman conceals evidence to hide the truth, and shows that their decisions are inconsistent, perverse, irrational, and unhinged, and how they wilfully cover up maladministration.

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone ,and the council officer's lies the Local Government Ombudsman peddle

The Local Government Ombudsman fails to acknowledge that the council did not comply with its policy on landscaping new developments. Policy E19 of the Local Plan requires landscaping schemes to include the arrangements and responsibilities for maintenance of them and that development will be monitored to ensure that landscape schemes are implemented. The council failed to comply with these requirements. That was maladministration causing injustice, but the Local Government Ombudsman conceals this fact.

Some of the landscape areas were not included in the Planning Agreement as open space land to be transferred to the council within 4 years of commencement of the development. The planning permissions did not include a condition requiring the developers to maintain the landscape areas. The Local Government Ombudsman has held in other cases that failure to include such a condition is maladministration. But the Local Government Ombudsman conceals this evidence and fails to mention it in the LGO report.

The council failed to monitor the development to ensure that a landscape scheme was implemented. Instead the council allowed both developers to carry out development for more than 3 years before they took any action, and the action they took was ineffective. Story Homes did not undertake the landscape planting until they were told that the Local Government Ombudsman was investigating the matter, and Senator Homes has not undertaken much of the tree planting shown on the approved development plan. Had the resident not notified the council of the breach of landscaping conditions, the landscaping that has been done after the complaint was referred to the Local Government Ombudsman would not have been done. Planning officers had failed to check whether landscape planning conditions were complied with in accordance with Policy E19. That was maladministration causing injustice.

Council officers prevent the resident from putting the complaint before a Board of Arbitration of local councillors, so as to conceal the complaint from councillors and force the resident to refer the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, in the knowledge that the Local Government Ombudsman is known to cover up council maladministration.

The Local Government Ombudsman peddle the lies, deceit and propaganda of inept council officers. For instance, the report refers to development as an estate of over 900 homes. That statement is incorrect. The complaint refers to a specific residential development, and the outline planning approval for that development states the overall maximum number of dwellings shall not exceed 230 new build units. The Local Government Ombudsman assumes what council officers tell them is the truth, when it is not. The LGO conceals the truth and misrepresents the facts.

Where the Local Government Ombudsman find maladministration causing injustice their guidance states that we aim to get things put right if we find they have gone wrong, and a remedy should, as far as possible, put the complainant in the position he or she would have been in but for the maladministration. Thus, the Local Government Ombudsman should recommend the council acquire the open space areas, carry out the landscape planting that has not been done, and maintain the open spaces at their expense. But the LGO makes no such recommendation. The Local Government Ombudsman fail to follow their own guidance in favour of the council.

The Local Government Ombudsman recommends the council consider including in its policy a statement that landscaping conditions will normally be enforced. But the LGO fails to disclose that the council already has such a policy, and the council failed to uphold it. The council’s Planning Enforcement Policy states that the Council will uphold planning policies contained within the Local Plan, and that includes Policy E19 - the council failed to to enforce its planning policy to ensure landscape conditions are implemented. That is maladministration causing injustice. The Local Government Ombudsman conceals this evidence.
The Local Government Ombudsman finds no fault of the council in respect of the Story Homes development. The facts show the council were guilty of maladministration causing injustice in respect of both developers, but the Local Government Ombudsman conceals evidence so that it can find the council is not at fault in respect of the Story Homes development. The Head of Planning Services, Alan Eales, declared an interest in Story Construction Ltd (Story Homes). The Director of Planning Services also had an interest in Story Construction Ltd.
Both developers failed to submit a landscape scheme prior to commencement of the development. Both were in breach of planning conditions and the Planning Agreement. Neither developer had submitted a landscape scheme for approval when the resident notified the council more than 3 years after commencement of the development. Nor had either of the developers undertaken tree planting necessary to remedy the breach of conditions prior to the resident referring the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. The LGO conceals this evidence.

Comments and conclusions

The Local Government Ombudsman decisions are perverse, inconsistent, unhinged, irrational, and without regard to the public interest. After 8 months of investigation, the LGO Investigator decides there is no useful purpose in continuing the investigation, then reverses that decision. After 17 months of investigation the Local Government Ombudsman finally makes a report maladministration causing injustice, but conceals much of the incriminating evidence of council maladministration.

The Deputy Ombudsman's decision not to uphold the resident's complaint against the Local Government Ombudsman Investigator is perverse and irrational. The Deputy Ombudsman clearly lacks the balls to accept the truth.

Photographs & Plans



The above plan from the Planning Agreement shows the development site. The area shown coloured green is land to be given to the council as public open space, and includes a football pitch. Existing and proposed tree planting are indicated on the plan.



The above plan shows part of the Senator Homes development. Much of the amenity tree screen planting along the site boundaries (top left and right side of plan) has not been carried out. There was no approved landscape scheme for the tree planting shown on the plan. Part of the football pitch is shown (top right).



The above photograph shows part of the landscape area. The Senator Homes development plan shows this as amenity tree planting. No trees planting has been carried out on the area to the right of the cycleway.



The above photograph shows part of the landscape area at site entrance. The development plan shows this area as amenity tree planting. No trees planting has been carried out.



The above photograph shows another view of part of the landscape area at site entrance. The development plan shows this area as amenity tree planting. No trees planting has been carried out. In the background are trees subject to a TPO.  

Council officers ignore complaints procedures and conceal complaints from local councillors

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal, and the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone
What happened

November 2004. Resident notifies Carlisle City Council about breaches of landscape planning conditions, breaches of Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement), and unauthorised development.

February/March 2005. Resident submits complaints to council about delay in enforcement action. The counil determine the complaints to be prematurely lodged. Head of Planning Services declares an interest in the developer (Story Construction Ltd.), and writes that the complaints would be investigated by a senior officer of the Planning Services Business Unit. No investigation was undertaken.

April 2005. Resident notifies council about breaches of replanting conditions of felling consents and unlawful felling of protected trees (trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order).

August 2005. Resident submits formal complaints to council. The complaints were that council officers failed to take effective enforcement action over unauthorised development, and breaches of landscaping conditions and obligations in the Planning Agreement; failed to uphold a planning condition and obligation requiring a football pitch to be retained and acquired by the council; granted planning permission for housing and gardens, without the delegated authority to do so, on land that was to be transferred to the council as public open space under the provisions of a Planning Agreement; and failed to notify the Development Control Committee that a planning application for housing was in breach of an outline planning approval and Planning Agreement to transfer land to the council as public open space.

These complaints were investigated by the Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, who was one of the officers that the resident had complained about. The Development Control Manager concluded that the council had acted entirely correctly.

The resident submits further complaints to the council. The complaints were that council officers erroneously gave consent for the felling of protected trees; failed to take action over the unlawful felling of protected trees; and failed to enforce replanting conditions of protected trees or statutory obligations to replant protected trees.

These complaints were investigated by the Local Plans and Conservation Manager, Chris Hardman, who concluded that there had been delays, but these were not unacceptable, and there had been no contravention of the Tree Preservation Order.

September 2005. Resident was not satisfied with the investigation of the complaints, and requests referral of the complaints to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors in accordance with the council's complaints procedures. Council officers ignores the request.

October 2005. Resident makes a second request for the complaints to be referred to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors. Council officers ignores the second request.

December 2005. Resident refers complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.

February 2006. A Council officer makes an apology to the resident for their failure to refer the complaints to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors. But the council officer did not offer to rectify this and set up a Board of Arbitration to consider the complaints.

August 2006. Local Government Ombudsman Investigator, Richard Corney, concludes there is no useful purpose continuing the investigation and proposes to discontinue the investigation and close the complaint. Resident makes complaint to Deputy Ombudsman about the Investigator. LGO Investigator had misrepresented the facts, concealed and ignored evidence of maladministration causing injustice, and failed to follow LGO guidance.

September 2006. Deputy Ombudsman, Neil Hobbs, declines to uphold the resident's complaint against Local Government Ombudsman Investigator and finds no fault. But Local Government Ombudsman reverses their earlier decision and decides to continue the investigation.

May 2007. Local Government Ombudsman report finds maladministration causing injustice in part, but fails to recommend remedies in accordance with Local Government Ombudsman guidance. In respect of the council's complaints procedures, the Local Government Ombudsman concludes the resident should have been given the right to air his grievances before the Board of Arbitration, and recommended a payment of a sum in recognition of his time and trouble in pursuing his complaint.

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal and the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone

The Local Government Ombudsman defines maladministration as including failure to follow procedures. The council officers failed to follow the council’s complaints procedures as it ignored the resident's request for a Board of Arbitration. By the Local Government Ombudsman's definition that was maladministration.

The LGO defines injustice as including loss of right and the time and trouble pursuing a justified complaint. The resident lost the right to put complaints before a Board of Arbitration of local councillors due to the omissions of council officers. By the LGO's definition that was injustice. By the Local Government Ombudsman's definitions there was maladministration and injustice, and the injustice was caused by the council’s officers maladministration.

The Local Government Ombudsman Investigator decides after 8 months of investigation, that there is no useful purpose in continuing the investigation, and proposes to discontinue it. The Local Government Ombudsman Investigator's findings did not mention that council officers failed to refer the resident's complaints to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors, and failed to follow the Council's complaints procedures. The LGO Investigator wilfully concealed evidence of maladministration causing injustice. The Local Government Ombudsman investigation was no more than a charade. 

The Deputy Ombudsman's decision not to uphold the resident's complaint against the Local Government Ombudsman Investigator was perverse, irrational, and unhinged. He lacked the balls to acknowledge the truth. His decsion was inconsistent with their decision to continue the investigation, and their decision to issue a report of maladministration causing injustice.

The Local Government Ombudsman report fails to criticise the way the council dealt with the resident's complaints, and thus condones council malpractice in dealing with complaints. For instance, some of the resident's complaints were investigated by the Development Control Manager, who was the subject of the complaints. It is contrary to good administrative practice, and the rules of natural justice, for a council officer to investigate a complaint made against himself. The LGO fails to criticise the council for this, and fails to recommend that the council discontinue this practice. By these omissions, the Local Government Ombudsman condones council malpractice and maladministration.

Council officers deliberately ignored repeated requests to refer the resident's complaints to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors, so as to conceal the complaints from local councillors and force the resident to refer the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, in the knowledge that the Local Government Ombudsman is not impartial and may cover up the maladministartion. The council stated that the Corporate Complaints Officer was on sick leave, and no one dealt with resident's letters in the cfficer's absence. The Local Government Ombudsman fails to mention in the report that this was maladministration, nor does the LGO recommend the council take action to ensure this does not reoccur. By these omissions, the LGO condones council maladministration.

The Local Government Ombudsman report rightly states that the resident should have been given the right to air his grievances before the Board of Arbitration, but the LGO fails to recommend that the council take action to ensure that complaints are referred to a Board of Arbitration when a request is made. By this omission, the Local Government Ombudsman encourages the council to continue ignoring complainant's requests for a Board of Arbitration, and condones council maladministration.

The sum the Local Government Ombudsman recommend the council pay to the resident in recognition of his time and trouble in pursuing his complaint is derisory, and does not reflect either the time or trouble incurred in pursuing the complaints. The time and trouble was unnecessarily more than it should have been due to the actions and omissions of both the LGO and council officers. Had council officers followed their policies and procedures, the resident would not have had to make any complaints to the council. The failure of council officers to acknowledge their errors and rectify them in a timely manner resulted in the unnecessary referral of complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman. The LGO deliberately manipulated and concealed evidence in favour of the council, and spun out the length of the investigation in the hope the resident would give up.

This case highlights how the Local Government Ombudsman conceals evidence of maladministration in favour of the council. It is quite clear from this evidence that the LGO is not impartial.

Planning officers turn blind eye to unauthorised sales office

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal and the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone
  3. Photographs
What happened
 
August 2001. A developer, Senator Homes, built sales office (without planning permission) at entrance to new residential development. Planning officers were aware of this, but take no action.

August 2004. After the development was completed the sales office was left vacant. The site of the sales office should have been planted with trees and a wall constructed in accordance with the approved plan and Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement). This was not done and has not been done to date.

December 2004. A resident notifies the Carlisle City Council of the vacant sales office. The Development Control Manager, Alan Taylor, told the resident that the sales office was incidental to the residential development and implied that planning permission was not required. That is incorrect. A sales office requires planning permission as it is not permitted development under the statutory Planning Regulations. Enforcement officer contacts developer.

February 2005. The Enforcement officer requests developer remove the sales office.

April 2005. Enforcement officer confirms that the developer will remove the sales office in April/May 2005 and that enforcement action would have to be considered prior to August 2005 (4 year statutory time limit).

August 2005. Resident makes formal complaint to council for their failure to take effective enforcement action within the 4 year statutory time period, their failure to comply with Department of Environment (DOE) guidance, and the council's Planning Enforcement Policy.

DOE Planning Policy Guidance: Enforcing Planning Control (PPG 18) advises ccuncils not to delay taking formal enforcement action when initial attempts at a voluntarily remedy fail, and councils should bear in mind the the 4 year statutory time limit. The guidance also states that the Local Government Ombudsman has held, in a number of investigated cases, that there is "maladministration" if the authority fail to take effective enforcement action which was plainly necessary and has occasionally recommended a compensatory payment to the complainant for the consequent injustice.

The council’s Planning Enforcement Policy states the Council will take action against significant breaches of planning permissions and against development which has not been given approval. But planning officers failed to take any action when the sales office was built.

September 2005. Development Control Manager writes that the sales office would be removed by 23 September 2005, and that enforcement action is not considered appropriate. The sales office was not removed by that date. The council were now time barred from taking legal enforcement action and unable to force the developer to remove the sales office.

Resident requests referral of complaint to a Board of Arbitration of local councillors. Council officers ignores the request and disregard the council's complaints procedures.

October 2005. The developer had encountered problems repairing defects in a sewer pipe in the road due to unstable ground conditions, and decided to divert the sewer across the site of the sales office to an alternative outfall. The sales office was removed to allow the sewer to be diverted. Had the developer remedied the defects in the existing sewer instead of diverting the sewer, the sales office would not have been removed, and the council could have done nothing to force the developer to remove the sales office.

Complaint referred to the Local Government Ombudsman. The Local Government Ombudsman declines to investigate the complaint.

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal and the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone
 
The attempt by the Development Control Manager to mislead a resident into believing that the sales office did not require planning permission by making a misleading and inaccurate statement is, according to Local Government Ombudsman guidance, maladministration.

Planning officers should have requested the developer remove the sales office or apply for retrospective temporary planning approval when they first became aware of the sales office. They failed to do so. That was maladministration. Council officers should have notified the Valuation Office Agency of the sales office so that it could be assessed for business rates. They failed to do so. These omissions led to the developer not paying any business rates on the sales office (over a period of 4 years). That was maladministration and an injustice.

The council failed to take enforcement action within the statutory time period. That was maladministration. It reveals the planning officers cavalier attitude to planning enforcement, contempt toward local residents, and a total disregard of the interests of the public.

Council officers prevent the resident from putting the complaint before a Board of Arbitration of local councillors, so as to conceal the complaint from councillors and force the resident to refer the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, in the knowledge that the Local Government Ombudsman may not investigate the complaint, or may cover up the maladministration.

The Local Government Ombudsman has found maladministration in other cases where council officers have failed to take effective enforcement action within the statutory time period. The decision of the Local Government Ombudsman not to investigate in this case is clear evidence that the LGO does not act in the public interest, are inconsistent in their decisions, are not impartial, and condone Council malpractice and incompetence.

The Local Government Ombudsman state they aim to get things put right if we find they have gone wrong...and put the complainant in the position he or she would have been in but for the maladministration. But they do not do this. They cover up the maladministration by not investigating, and do nothing to get the council to take action to ensure the tree planting and wall is built in accordance with the approved plan and Planning Agreement.
The LGO's decision not to investigate is perverse, irrational, unhinged, and contrary to the public interest.

Photographs




The above photograph shows the Senator Homes sales office built without planning permission. The area to the right of the sales office was tarmac and used as a car park. The site of the sales office and car park should have been planted with trees and a wall constructed in accordance with the approved residential development plan and Planning Agreement. This was not done and has not been done to date. 



The above photograph shows another view of the Senator Homes sales office built without planning permission. Protected trees (subject to Tree Preservation Order) can be seen in the background.



The above photograph shows another view of the sales office and two of the protected trees (subject to TPO) that form part of the established avenue of trees along the Garlands Road.

Planning officers fail to uphold Planning Agreement and landscape conditions - unauthorised concrete block wall

Page Contents
  1. What happened
  2. The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal and the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone
  3. Comments and conclusions
  4. Photographs & Plan
What happened

2004. Developer, Senator Homes, builds a concrete block retaining wall with wood fence above (without planning permission) on the edge of a cycleway/footpath adjacent new residential development. The wall is over 2 metres high. It is situated on land shown as amenity tree screen planting on the approved residential development plan and Planning Agreement (section 106 Agreement). The wall had been built to retain an embankment. Behind the fence above the wall is a refuse bin storage compound that was also built without planning approval.

November 2004. Resident notifies council of the unauthorised wall, breach of landscape planning conditions and Planning Agreement. Enforcement officer inspects.

February 2005. Resident requests council enforce the Planning Agreement and landscape planning conditions.

March 2005. Enforcement officer confirms discussions with developer about landscaping and 'softening up' the wall with planting.

August 2005. Resident makes formal complaint to council.

September 2005. Resident requests referral to Board of Arbitration of local councillors. Council officers ignore the request and disregard the council's complaints procedures.

December 2005. Resident refers complaint to Local Government Ombudsman. Local Government Ombudsman declines to investigate despite evidence of maladministration causing injustice.

2007. Developer attaches a wood fence to the concrete block wall to screen it, and plants some shrubs.

The evidence the Local Government Ombudsman conceal and the council maladministration the Local Government Ombudsman condone

This case highlights how the Local Government Ombudsman and the council do not act in the public interest, but instead cover up maladministration. A developer builds a wall without planning permission. This creates an eyesore that causes problems to local residents, and prevents amenity tree planting to be carried out as shown in the approved residential development plan and the Planning Agreement. The council do not take enforcement action to require the developer to reinstate the land and carry out the landscaping in accordance with the planning permission and Planning Agreement. Instead the council allow the developer to retain the wall.

The council do not act in the public interest, they act to mitigate the financial cost to the subcontractor, Story Construction Ltd, who built the wall. The Head of Planning Services declared an interest in Story Construction Ltd. The Director of Planning Services also had an interest in Story Construction Ltd.

The Council’s Planning Enforcement Policy states that the Council will endeavour to provide a fair and consistent enforcement service to protect the environment of the District and the amenity of its citizens; will take action against significant breaches of planning permissions and development which has not been given approval; and will uphold planning policies contained within the Local Plan, that includes Policy E19 - the requirement to monitor developments to ensure that landscape schemes are implemented.

The planning officers failed to abide by the council's Planning Enforcement Policy and Local Plan Policy E19. They failed to take action to ensure compliance with the approved planning permission and landscaping conditions. That was a clear case of maladministration causing injustice to the local residents.

Other residents had complained about the retaining wall, and had notified a local councillor. In July 2006, a local councillor wrote this unusual and unattractive construction bordering the cycleway is filled with loose stone and is creating a problem for residents in this area. It is also being vandalised. We have had a site visit with the developer and the maintenance company, and I expect these concerns to be addressed.

DOE Planning Policy Guidance: Enforcing Planning Control (PPG 18) advises councils that the Local Government Ombudsman has held, in a number of investigated cases, that there is "maladministration" if the authority fail to take effective enforcement action which was plainly necessary and has occasionally recommended a compensatory payment to the complainant for the consequent injustice. It is clear that the residents suffered an injustice by a loss of amenity caused by the block wall eyesore, and enforcement action was plainly necessary to remedy that injustice. But the Local Government Ombudsman declines to investigate and does not make consistent decisions.

Council officers prevent the resident from putting the complaint before a Board of Arbitration of local councillors, so as to conceal the complaint from councillors and force the resident to refer the complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, in the knowledge that the Local Government Ombudsman may not investigte the complaint or may cover up the maladministration .

Comments and conclusions

The decision of the Local Government Ombudsman not to investigate shows that the LGO does not act in the public interest, conceal evidence of maladministration, condone council malpractice, and are not impartial.
The Local Government Ombudsman state they aim to get things put right if we find they have gone wrong...and put the complainant in the position he or she would have been in but for the maladministration. But they do not do this. They cover up the maladministration by not investigating, and do nothing to get the council to take action to ensure the wall is removed and tree planting undertaken in accordance with the approved plan and Planning Agreement. The LGO's decision is perverse, irrational, and unhinged.

Photographs & Plan



The above photograph shows the concrete block wall eyesore built without planning permission. This area is shown in the Planning Agreement and approved residential development plan as amenity screen tree planting.



The above photograph shows another view of the concrete block wall eyesore. The vegetation in front of the wood fence are nettles, thistles and rough grasses. The area should have been a grass bank with amenity screen tree planting.



The above photograph shows the concrete block wall eyesore prior to colonisation with nettles, thistles and rough grasses.



The location of the concrete block wall is shown by the red arrow on above plan. The plan also shows amenity screen tree planting. You can see from the above photographs that the wall prevents the amenity screen tree planting.