Sunday, November 30, 2008

Time has told (1)

My initial complaint to the York LGO in 1997 consisted of 3 specific complaints. However, one of them was totally ignored by the York LGO without explanation. So although I submitted 3 complaints, her final report produced in 1998 only dealt with 2 of them. I complained to the York LGO about the fact she had ignored one of my complaint but never received a satisfactory answer. However, I now know why. The complaint that the York LGO ignored over 11 years ago was about the council bodging the highway to overcome their self created difficulties and that is exactly what they have just done.

Essentially the complaint ignored by the York LGO during 1997/8 was that the council may, as highway authority, reduce the standards of the planned highway to a much lower level than they would allow any developer ever to do so in order to get themselves out of their self created difficulties on the cheap.

Between 1997 and 2008 the council, as highway authority, tried (but failed) to stick me with their problem, as the developer had done between 1991 and 1997. However, the council as highway authority had one major advantage over the developer, they decide the adoption standards of roads in this area so they can bodge the road as much as they want, adopt it and maintain it's been constructed to adoptable standards. When in reality all they have done is reduce the standards to get themselves out of their self created difficulties.

I suggested to the York LGO during 1997 that either another council or an independant body should scrutinise any redesign of the highway to ensure that the council did not take the easy way out and bodge the highway.

Taking all the facts into account the only conclusion I can reach is that the York LGO knew that the council, should they fail to stick me with their problem, may decide to bodge their way out of the problem and left them an escape route. One that for the safety of the general public she should have closed 11 years ago.

This blog will continue to highlight the problems with the York LGO whilst my new blog will highlight the damage that can be done when the York LGO fails to do their job.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A new petition that involves the discredited LGO.

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Investigate LGO Investigations into Child Protection in Haringey. The Country is shocked by the awful situation of Haringey Council and Baby 'P'. Since the Victoria Climbie affair, one hundred and fifteen (115) complaints have been made to the Local Government Ombudsman about child protection in Haringey Council. Only one (1) of these complaints has been upheld with a finding of 'maladministration with injustice' with a paltry settlement of £70. This outcome is a statistical impossibility and exposes the inadequacy of Administrative Justice within the UK. An independent judicial review is requested into these matters'

Please click here to sign the petition. To read the story that inspired the petition click here. To discuss this issue on the LGO watchers public forum click here. To view my own Freedom of Information request click here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A bodge by any other name.

Today Cheshire County Council bodged the highway in the vicinity of my property. As a result I am now splitting this blog into two. This one will continue to highlight the corrupt system of administrative justice in this country whilst my new blog will highlight all the faults with the highway in the vicinity of my property.

People who use the highway should not be put at extra and unnecessary risk of accident, injury or death due to a substandard highway just so the council can save themselves from the consequences of their self created difficulties.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Honesty goes down the drain.

When Cheshire County Council first sent me their latest plan view of the works they intended to carry out in the vicinity of my property, even without the aid of a cross sectional plan, I immediately identified a serious design flaw. The plan showed that the surface water on some 40 feet of footway would drain onto my land. A major no-no by any stretch of the imagination.

I wrote to the council about my concerns only to be told that surface water from the footway would not drain onto my land because it would percolate into permeable material before reaching my land. However, their own plan showed no such permeable material or drains. Therefore, someone at Cheshire County Council was lying. Evidenced by the fact that when they arrived today to carry out the work across my vehicle access, one of the first things they did was to fit a drainage channel to the back edge of the footway. The only question remaining about the surface water is where does the afterthought and unplanned for drainage channel actually drain the surface water to, and is it adequate for the purpose? No doubt time and, if necessary, a dye test will tell.

Now I am not too concerned about Cheshire County Council staff lying to me because it is something they have been doing that for years, however, I am concerned that if I managed to identify a serious design flaw using nothing more than the plan view think how many more I may have been able to identify using the cross sectional view they still refuse to give me.

And that folks is why Cheshire County Council don't want, and have never wanted to, give me a copy of the cross sectional plans. They know I will be able to identify further serious design flaws with the works.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More than one way to skin a malicious 'Cheshire County Council' cat

After 11 years and 2 York LGO investigations Cheshire County Council are still refusing to provide a proper scaled and detailed cross sectional plan for works they intend to carry out in the vicinity of my property. That denies me the right to confirm the full impact of their works on my property rights and, if necessary, legally challenge them before the works are implemented. That, I am sure a judge will agree, is a malicious attempt to deny me my human rights to justice.

However, there is more than one way to skin a malicious 'Cheshire County Council' Cat. All I need to do is wait for the works to be completed. Then I can have the works surveyed and ask my own surveyor to reverse engineer a scaled cross sectional plan. That will enable me to identify any and all infringements with my property, legal and human rights together with any deviation from normal highway design guidance and take the appropriate action.

In addition, whilst I wait for my surveyor to produce a cross sectional plan I will be able to log and photograph every occasion in which I or my visitors have difficulty accessing and egressing my property, every occasion that surface water enters my property and every occasion that pedestrians have to walk in the road because they feel it's too dangerous to use the vehicular crossing.

Add Cheshire County Council's failure to provide a proper cross sectional plan to the fact that they have also removed the surface water drainage from their recent plan so surface water from the footway will flow onto my land (all previous plans produced by Cheshire County Council had surface water drainage) and I am sure I will have no trouble at all convincing a judge that their actions were done with malicious intent. That should significantly increase the amount of damages I am eventually awarded. Particularly since they could have resolved the situation amicably rather than resorting to oppressively carrying out the works with total disregard to highway & pedestrian safety and my property & human rights.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

York LGO: is their irrationality caused by surface water (on the brain)?

Recently a new law was introduced to stop people draining surface water from their land onto a public highway. So why does a Cheshire County Council highway authority engineer think it's acceptable to allow surface water from part of a public highway, the footway, to flow onto my land without my permission? Especially since other Councils state that every step should be taken to ensure that surface water does not flow into private property from the highway as a result of the construction of a crossover.

Whilst the York LGO was involved with my complaint Cheshire County Council's plans included drains for the surface water but after she declared herself functus officio (That's Latin for sticking her head up her backside so she can no longer be blamed for the ongoing council maladministration she failed to resolve.) Cheshire County Council drew a new plan without surface water drains. Did Cheshire County Council remove the surface water drains out of malice because I wouldn't accept a ramp on my land to get them out of their self created difficulties?

Ironically the York LGO ended their involvement with my 1997 complaint because the highway authority promised her the highway would be completed without any impact on my property. I fail to see how draining a public footway onto my property fulfils that promise, but there again, thankfully, I don't have the illogical and perverse brain of a Local Government Ombudsman. Neither do I stick my head up my backside so I don't see Council maladministration causing injustice!

Monday, November 17, 2008

LGO V Courts

An example of why it's always better to use the courts rather than attempt to use the discredited Local Government Ombudsman.

'A local authority has been ordered to pay more than £70,000 compensation to villagers whose early mornings have been made intolerable by the din of refuse trucks.

East Lindsey District Council in Lincolnshire also faces a massive legal costs bill following the High Court victory won by 71-year-old William Bontoft and two of his neighbours in the village of Manby, near Louth.

Judge John Leighton Williams QC, sitting in London, ruled today that the residents could not reasonably have been expected to bear the noise nuisance caused by more than 20 refuse trucks passing their homes at 6.30am.'

If they had taken their complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman they would have been lucky to get a finding of maladministration and a paltry few pounds compensation [1]. In this case a judge agreed there was an actionable nuisance and awarded the three complainants a total of £70,000.

So kick the waste of space LGO into touch and use the courts to protect yourself against councils. You know it makes sense.

[1] The chance of obtaining a finding of maladministration using the Local Government Ombudsman is 0.68%, that's 1 complaint in every 147 complaints submitted. The average compensation obtained through the Local Government Ombudsman is about £650.

11 years, two York LGOs and still no cross sectional plan or statutory authority provided.

Cheshire County Council recently sent me their latest plan view for the works they threaten to carry out in the vicinity of my property but still haven't given me a proper cross sectional view of their plans to prove they won't interfere with my legal and human rights. All they have provided is a not to scale sketch without levels making it a complete waste of time. They argue the works won't interfere with my rights but refuse to prove it by providing a proper cross sectional plan. On one hand they suggest I should seek advice on their plans but on the other refuse to give me a copy of the cross sectional plans on which to do so! The York LGO has a lot to answer for.

I also asked the council to provide me with the specific statutory authority that allowed them to carry out works if they interfered with my legal and human rights. Again they refused.

So after 11 years and 2 Local Government Ombudsman's investigations (1997/98 - 2002/08) I am still waiting for the council to provide a copy of the cross sectional plans for the works they threaten to carry out and/or the statutory authority that allows them to carry out the works if they interfere with my legal and human rights.

And the Local Government Ombudsman has the audacity to wonder why I and many others think they are a complete waste of time!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

None standard highway design and the risks involved for a Highway Authority

Cheshire County Council have recently produced yet another plan to complete the highway in the vicinity of my property.

Essentially they have now decided to minimise any impact on my property by bodging the highway footway further to well below normal highway design standards and ignore the need for adequate and proper drainage. Whilst this is excellent news for me regarding my right of way, the news is not so good for future highway users, particularly pedestrians. In essence all they have done is exchange one legal issue, my right of way, with others, actionable nuisance caused by flooding of my land due to their failure to provide adequate and proper drainage and claims by highway users should they injure themselves as a result of their none standard and dangerous design. Ironically, they have also opened the door for 'no win no fee' brigade to take them to the cleaners should anyone fall on the footway in the vicinity of my property.

I submitted a Freedom of Information request for a copy of the risk assessment they carried out because their design deviated from normal design practice only to be told by their solicitor that the roadway was designed within guidelines (using their own guidelines it is demonstrably not) and as such they didn't need to carry out a risk assessment (music to the ears of 'no win no fee solicitors'). Particularly when I tell a claimants solicitor that I would have accepted compensation or sold the Council the land necessary for them to complete the roadway to safe and normal adopted road standards. However, rather than accepting my gracious offer they chose to put peoples lives at risk and save the money it would cost doing the job properly.

You can view the Practical Guide to Appendix C of The Roads Board report "Well Maintained Highways - Code of Practice for Highway Maintenance Management" by clicking here.

I have extracted part of the document below and highlighted the relevant parts in blue.

4.1.3 Providing a defence for new works

Similar principles will be used in providing a defence. A local authority will need to provide evidence that:

new works were safe and properly designed, and did not inadvertently trap road users into danger.

a local authority may wish to cite in evidence that the works complied with appropriate standards or design guidance or according to principles that have been properly applied.

4.1.4 A system to manage risks

The local authority should operate a system that enables risks to be identified, assessed, and appropriately managed, with a record kept at each stage.

Local authority departments must cooperate in the introduction of risk assessment systems for all highways associated functions. Systems will need to identify areas of high claims experience and instigate lines of investigation to reduce the extent of potential claims.

Simply sitting back and hoping the problem will go away, or not happen, is a recipe for disaster. There needs to be a "culture" change in most organisations for both members and officers if everyone is to be aware of risk management. It is likely to be difficult to demonstrate that criteria for highways management or design are objective, where they have been influenced by short term political needs.

Information from the system should be communicated within and outside the local authority.

Interesting times ahead if someone is badly injured or killed as a result of their dangerous design. Especially since it was only done to get themselves out of their self created difficulties on the cheap. Their own solicitor's words not mine! Even worse for the York LGO because she stated that she was happy with what they are doing. Talk about putting your head on the block for your friends! If a child gets killed on the highway in the vicinity of my property we will have another Haringey. I warned Cheshire County Council and I warned the LGO neither would listen so on their heads be it.

In March 2005 Government published a draft Corporate Manslaughter Bill. The bill would introduce a new, specific offence of corporate manslaughter. An organisation would be prosecuted for this if a gross failing by its senior managers to take reasonable care for the safety of their workers or members of the public caused a person’s death. There have been some concerns that Highway Authorities may be liable under Corporate Manslaughter if it is found that a defect in design has resulted in death, and that this may stifle innovation in street design. The Government is alert to this issue and does not want to give design guidance the status of mandatory requirement by introducing the offence of Corporate Manslaughter. Authorities will need to show that they have carried out a risk assessment if departing from guidance, however. Again this points to the need for a documented and balanced design sign-off system that allows for authorities to move beyond normal design standards when appropriate. Cheshire County Council have not done that so it looks as though a Corporate Manslaughter charge against Cheshire County Council could be brought should anyone die as a result of their stupid and dangerous design.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Haringey: The Role and Ineffectiveness of the LGO

'SOCIAL workers in Haringey have been the subject of 115 complaints to the local government watchdog in the years since the death of Victoria ClimbiƩ......The local government ombudsman dealt with the stream of complaints amid claims of serious failings by the council since 2000.....The ombudsman said that, of the 115 complaints it deal with, there was a finding in one case of maladministration causing injustice.'

Read the full story here.

How many more children have to die? How many more people have to suffer injustice as a result of council maladministration before the LGO wake up and do their job. They are supposed to investigate complaints not bury them for their friends and ex colleges in councils.

The deaths through council maladministration has to stop and the injustice through council maladministration has to stop! And if the LGO prefer to ignore the problem then the government need to sack them and get a really independent body to act as a watchdog.

Here's another example from Manchester.

Ironically one of the Local Government Ombudsmen used to work for Haringey and another for Manchester. Could the problem be that all Local Government Ombudsmen are ex council chief executives making them what most members of the public would refer to as part of 'the old boys network'.

To read about some of the other cases that happened after the Victoria ClimbiƩ case but before the latest cases click here.

Another website exposing more council cock ups.

'Without any notice to the affected residents, Wakefield Planning Department allowed South Yorkshre Housing Association (SYHA) to submit plans for a 3 storey "Super Home"; the largest residential building in Normanton, after only allowing residents to see outline plans for bungalows abutting their properties'...Please click here to visit the website.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Brent Council and the LGO

Yet another blogger exposing a corrupt council and the 'incompetent' Local Government Ombudsman providing even more evidence of the LGO's predisposition to believe anything a council tells them in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Please click here to visit the Bent Council blog or use the link in the side bar.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The truth is out there!

'Where it is found that maladministration has occurred, the ombudsman produces a report recommending the sorts of remedy that the authority concerned might want to pursue.' [My emphasis]

The reason they do this is that councils can and do ignore them with impunity so if they don't suck up to councils and offer a solution that a Council is happy with nothing will be resolved and the Ombudsman just looks impotent.

Would Local Government Ombudsmen ever admit to only recommending the sorts of remedies that the authority concerned might want to pursue... after all this does give the game away. Well yes they would because the statement above was made in a recruitment advert that secured the services of the current York LGO.

The following statement was also made in the recruitment advert 'In most cases, the council will have to stump up a formal apology and a few hundred quid in compensation.'

Time has told.

During a November 2006 post I reiterated an earlier comment

'Only time will tell but it's not looking good so far. They [The LGO] appear more interested in resolving the problem for the County Council than investigating my complaint. Two months and they still haven't asked the Council for a formal response to the allegations I made during 2002.'

The York LGO published her report some three months ago [August 2008] but I still haven't seen a copy of Cheshire County Council's defence to my complaint or a copy of the plans I complained about let alone be given the chance to controvert them. If that's what the York LGO considers justice God help us all. More like arse covering for their failure to persuade the councils to fulfil their 1999 promise to complete the works without any impact on my property.