Sunday, May 25, 2008

Now entering the 12th year!

About this time eleven years ago (1997) I had a meeting with a Council Solicitor regarding the problems they faced in completing a new highway (to adoptable standards) in the vicinity of my property. I had attempted to bring this problems to their attention as early as 1991 but they chose to ignore me.

Therefore, when the Council signed the formal Section 38 Road Adoption Agreement with the developer in 1992 they were already aware that the new highway was not being constructed in the position shown on the agreed Section 38 plans. However, one of the terms and conditions of the Section 38 Agreement was that the Developer constructed the new highway to the Section 38 plans. So in essence the Council knew that the Developer would be in breach of the agreement the minute they signed it. The Developer further breached the Section 38 Agreement during 1994 when they failed to meet the part two certificate deadline. Yet the Council not only allowed them to continue build and sell houses they also allowed them to start a new phase, this time without a Section 38 Agreement at all! The Council also allowed the Developer to continue to build and sell houses even though they were also in breach of a Section 106 Agreement to provide a play area for children and an open space for adults before many of the properties were occupied.

So between 1992 and 1997 we had a Council freely allowing a Developer to breach every agreement they had with them without taking any prudent enforcement action, whilst curiously allowing the Developer to build and sell properties worth (at today's prices) some £10 million. Suspicious or what? Particularly since the same developer also bought and developed the old Council headquarters land. They even left the road on that development unfinished as well.

Having completed all the properties on land in their ownership the Developer then went into receivership leaving the Council with the unfinished highway but no company to take action against. Ironically, during 1991 I asked the Council what they would do in that exact scenario.

During 1997 the Solicitor for the Council accepted that the new highway couldn't be finished without it impacting on my property but refused to buy the necessary land for them to complete the works to the Section 38 planned and bonded standard. The Council Solicitor then threatened to complete the works without my agreement even though he knew they would interfere with my legal rights. It was this threat that led to my first complaint (June 1997) to the Local Government Ombudsman. (Between 1998 and 2000 the County Council as Highway Authority also held the view that the road could not be completed in its current position without it impacting on my land, however, they changed their mind when they realised that the Insurance Company would not pay for the highway to be moved. [1])

Between 1997 and 2000 (before the Insurance Company refused to pay for the road to be moved) both Councils and the LGO accepted that the highway would impact my property unless is was moved first. However, since 2000 (after the Insurance Company refused to pay for the roadway to be moved) the Highway Authority have been asserting that it won't impact on my property, although thy won't provide me with any plans to prove their assertions and neither will they tell me what legal authority gives them the right to carry out the work.

11 years after they first threatened to complete the works, the Local Government Ombudsman is apparently not in the least bit interested in the fact that the Council haven't completed the highway, provided the necessary plans to prove they can, or even told me what legal authority allows them to interfere with my legal and human rights. So what can you do whilst the ombudsmen has their head in the sand?

[1] Under the terms and conditions of a Section 38 Road Adoption Agreement the Developer has to have insurance in place in case they go bust. This allows the Council to complete any unfinished road without the cost falling on local taxpayers. Unfortunately, curiously and suspiciously, even though the Council knew in 1991 that the road was not being constructed in the insured an planned position they still issued a certificate during June 1992 stating it was. This allowed the Developer to reduce the insurance cover to such an extent it was no longer sufficient enough to pay for the road to be moved. And of course carry on building and selling properties.

And that's the reason the County Council as Highway Authority are still trying to stuff me with the problem! The Insurance Company won't pay for the road to be completed to the planned and insured standard because of the Council's earlier maladministration. The Council don't want to pay for the road to be moved because it will expose their 'actions' between 1991 and 1997 to local Councillors and taxpayers. So it's easier for them to try and shuffle their problem on to me instead. Particularly since we have such an ineffective and overtly biased Local Government Ombudsman who appears more than willing to bury their head in the sand instead of protecting the human rights of a citizen.

Not a good advert for the effectiveness and impartiality of the Local Government Ombudsman, is it?

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