Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Assistant Justice's Notes

Here are the case notes from the recent court case involving stopping up of the Coatham Footpaths. We apologise for the illegible nature, but these are for the court's own use. We have applied to have them type written, and will publish when available.

As ever, click on images to enlarge:

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Another message from a council employee

Below is an email sent to me today.Why is it,if what is contained in the email is true,that the council are on one hand making people redundant yet on the other hand employing people from the eastern block? Could it be that they arent being paid the same rates of pay that local people were/are being paid? Are they entitled the same workers rights as people employed locally? Have people been made redundant to then be replaced with a cheaper workforce? We will endeavour to find out just what the facts are.

"The council have just taken on a load of eastern European workers I have heard there are 36 of them from Poland working for Green and Clean and they are being supplied by an agency. Break this news as you like Chris but dont say you how found out. This is genuine information although I am not sure of the number or nationalities, but at a time when people have been made redundant and when the area has a high level of unemployment it can not be right..........."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Town Hall Rich List

I am pleased to share with you these figures showing the cost to us, the
local council taxpayers, of Senior Officers in Redcar & Cleveland Council.
As you will see if you visit not all authorities
have released information even under the Freedom of Information Act (2000).

Is this what we should expect from a 4 star authority? Best Value, decide
for yourselves. Peace

Click on images to enlarge:

Source for list: click here

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Chief Executives wife and the PCT

We have known about this for sometime but It was held back until it had been stated in court which it was this week.After all the questions that were left unanswered regarding the appearance of a 5GP surgery in the ammended plans for Coatham in November,a source came forward and pointed us once more in the right direction.

Even though PCT manager Steven Childs denied all knowledge of the plans to me being added to the planning application in November 2006, and even though in a meeting in January 2007, in front of approximately 100 people, including councillors,he stated that he hadnt known anything about the plans for the new surgery until late 2006,we were given minutes of a meeting from JULY 2006 that showed that he presented plans for the new surgery to be included in the Coatham Enclosure to the board of the Langbaurgh PCT.

A meeting in July 2006 that we believe was chaired by none other than non executive member of the board of the PCT.....Mrs Veronica Moore,wife of the Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland borough council.Mr Moore coincidentally, just so happens to have taken the planning department under his direct control and so, as such, is pushing all aspects of the Coatham Enclosure/links scheme from within the council.

At the meeting in January at the Coatham memorial hall Mr Childs said in front of the large audience that the PCT had had no knowledge of the surgery being added to the planning application and that it was added speculatively to the planning application by Persimmon homes and an officer of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council who he refused to identify. Somehow this statement about the anonymous officer,despite saying it to a large crowdat the meeting inJanuary this year, hasnt found its way into the minutes of that meeting?

Any ideas as to who the officer in question could possibly be? Answers on a postcard please.

Could I also bring to your attention that Mrs Moore worked for the audit commission.

Coatham footpath court hearing 2

By the way,according to Mr Logan the cost of the scheme has risen to £93,000,000! YES NINETY THREE MILLION POUNDS.How can it be that when the cost of the scheme was only £55,000,000 we were going to get disneyland Redcar yet now its going to be £93,000,000 were only going to get brookside on our coastline with a baths? The more it costs the less we get?

I look at it this way,in life you get what you deserve.For three years despite taking no end of abuse from this council and from others,I along with a lot of other people have dedicated all of our time and energy to fighting to keep our coastline open because it is our greatest natural asset and would put our town,if developed properly,back on the map.We have fought to have leisure facilities in this town without the houses and we have fought to expose the truth about this scheme and subsequently,elements of this council.

All down the line the council have squirmed,twisted,wriggled,connived,bullied,smeared,lied and deceived in order to carry on the myth that we were going to be the beneficiaries of leisure facilities that were going to make us a "visitors destination of regional importance". They even tried to pass it off in a court of law on Wednesday. Had I not gone to court to object,then Council officer Mr Alan Logan's picture of the councils scheme for Coatham would have gone unchallenged...but unfortunately for the council,try as hard as they might to not let people know of their right to object in court and then threaten them with costs when they did, I did go.

Looking at it,I dont even think Mr Logan assumed that he would be questioned.I think he thought that he would just be called by the councils barrister to read his bulls**t statement about what Coatham was going to include and how it was going to revitalise Redcar and that was it.Unfortunately for him and the council,it wasnt. For the first time in three years,I was actually able to pin an officer of this council down and,because he was under oath,get him to tell the truth.When I questioned him and he told the truth,it was clear that when he had read his statement out that he had perjured himself,because the things that he had read out in that statement werent true,he knew it,and when he read them to the judge,not once did he correct himself or tell the judge what the real facts were now.

His council officer colleague Adrian Smith did the same.He told the judge that the council didnt tell the public in the notices advertising the stopping up of the paths because they just followed "their statutory duty". Their statutory duty extends to inviting objections to a small number of utility companies but not to the public apparantly. I told him that if the public werent told of their right to object then how were they supposed to know? "when a notice goes up he said,Mr Frankland puts his telephone number on the bottom of the notice so that people can phone him up and say they think its wrong"."Strange I said,I have a copy of another notice where people HAVE BEEN INVITED to object and theres no telephone number on it and I saw the notice advertising the stopping up of the paths in court and theres no number there? At this point even the councils barrister sprang to his feet and told Mr Smith that there wasnt to which he replied "Oh no there isnt I must have got it wrong".

The fact is that the council rested their case on useage of the paths.They know the paths are used and have been for best part of two hundred years.Go on Google Earth and you can see them all Criss crossing the common,well trodden and used.They didnt advertise that the public had a right toobject because they knew that if people did because they used the paths that would blow their 'nobody uses the paths' line.When we found out that we did have a right to object and twenty five or so people objected,they hand delivered a letter threatening all the costs to a member of the public, at six oclock, on a Friday night,two days before the non contested hearing that they expected to just sail through unopposed, and told him to distribute it to the other objectors.

Fortunately,it didnt intimidate him enough and he,along with another member of the public went to court on the 5th February and won the right for people to be heard.Unfortunately,because the threat of possibly having to pay thousands of pounds in costs hit home,and only four people submitted letters to the court and I was the only one to turn up on the day.George Lawrence QC,with all his vast knowledge of the law stated that there was little useage of the paths because if there was,where were all the people to say they used them.Its just absolutely disgraceful.

Especially when you consider that a Government inspector at the village green public inquiry deemed that there was sufficient evidence of use,but that was at a public inquiry where there was no threat of costs and over 130 people came forward to write letters and appear at the hearing. At that hearing,it was established that it HAD been used for recreational purposes,that it was OPEN SPACE,that the paths DID matter,but we lost on a technicality because in 2003 the council,anticipating at some stage a possible village green application,errected signs saying they gave us permission to use the land even though none was needed,and that beat us.Yesterday,we lost because of a lack of information being deliberately not given to us and threats when it was.

In both cases we were quite literally robbed by the councils sheer underhandedness.Both times they have just got through by the skin of their teeth.In both cases,we by rights should have won because everything was in our favour.But in both cases,situations were contrived to undermine our position of strength,both times all of our money was then used to pay a top barrister to legally enforce those contrived situations to beat the people who were paying him...the public.

There will be no doubt a big smile on Ian Hopleys face today.Yesterday,when it was all over,I gathered up my bundle of documents and I went over and shook everybodies hand,Ian Hopleys included,from the council.I left with my head held high.A reporter from the Gazette had a word with me and then I left.As I did,Ian Hopley and co. were all sat outside huddled round their £12,500 for 25 minute barrister gleefully going over their 'victory'.Ian looked at me and as I walked past I said "I'll be looking forward to a copy of the barristers opinion through the post" and I smiled.I knew then that infact they were the losers.

They are losers because they had won yesterday,like every other day, by default.They had won by being underhand,by using our money to employ a man who by rights should never have been used to simply stop up footpaths on a common in the North East.They had used a massive sledgehammer to crack in comparison,the tiniest of walnuts.And they had done this and have done it for three years with all the other shit things and smears that they have done because they know they have no entitlement to build on that land whether they own itor not. In order to seduce the people of Redcar to go along with their theft they have painted a false picture to them,one that theyve known from day one is not real or deliverable.

I have said it for nearly three years and, as I say, taken no end of abuse,but because for the first time in my life I refused to be bullied and I stood up in court and dared to have my say,THE TRUTH that the council have refused to admit all along is out in the public domain. That truth is that there is no major leisure development just a replacement of what we have already and a pool.In the case of the dance floor they want to replace,it will be substandard in comparison to the facility we have now because the facility we have now is in its own building, a building that we all know and love as one of the best live music venues around.The dance floor were going to get will be a sports floor sandwiched between a gym swimming pool and doctors.The most galling thing of all is that because the council areborrowing £8,000,000,we can have a pool and those facilities that we already have regenerating massively.There is absolutely no need to have one house built there at all.

I started this lengthy post by saying you get what you deserve.I have fought so hard to get the truth about this scheme out,and still because a lack of reporting it still isnt.The council and everyone who is in on this scandal with them, have their heads down now and are trying to reach that finishing line.I have done all I can to inform you and provide you with the truth and I am satisfied after the events of the last two days that I can do no more.I put all I had at risk because the council applied for me to pay all of their costs for everything,but thankfully the judge defended me against that.Its up to all of you now.The truth is there for you all.It is up to you now to act.We all love this town so we all have a responsibility to it and not just for us but for our kids who will take it over when we have gone.This is their town.

The council want to push this before planning on the 19th of this month or thereabouts.They are doing that because the officers who are pushing it for whatever reason, and going to the lengths that they are going to get it through,know that they will be 'reined in' if the political make up of our council changes on May 3rd.They know that this shoddy scheme will probably be taken back to the drawing board if that happens and anything they may have done wrong in order to push it through would then be looked at. You have the facts,I can do no more, now its up to you.

Coatham Footpath hearing 1

I am sorry this post is a little long but theres so much to say.I promised Admin that I wouldnt start new topics willy nilly but I felt because of the magnitude of what was admitted under oath by council officer Alan Logan yesterday,that I had to so that as many people can see that what I and the friends of Coatham Common have been saying all along is true and that it isnt lost in the cut and thrust of another thread.I got the chance yesterday and today, because I went to court to have my say and offer my objections to the court,to not only have my full say today,but to question Mr Logan under oath when he was presented a a witness for the council.

Whilst under oath Mr Logan admitted to me that there will be NO visitors centre in the plan for Coatham.There will be NO bowling alley in the plan for Coatham.That there will be NO bingo hall (the building that the bowling alley was due to be housed in since being moved from the leisure centre) in the plan for Coatham.I asked him how much funding there was for the extreme sports centre.He went on about it being a private venture for Enterprise West.I said well they havent attracted any funding since this plan took shape in 1999/2000 so why should they be so optimistic now? I told him Persimmon are already going to pay £60,000 to CPO it,so I put it to him that there wasnt going to be an extreme sports centre.He was silent.There is no funding for the extreme sports centre, I put it to him but he refused to answer,there will be NO extreme sports centre in the plan for Coatham.After reminding him and telling him that I had already been speaking to English Nature so I knew what the position about conditions that were placed on EN removing their objection,he reluctantly admitted in a round about way because he didnt want to say it in front of the press,that the beach at Coatham was going to be restricted use.

Restricted to the very groups who come from all over the North to our town for the extreme sports. He also,even as a senior officer in regeneration,said he didnt know how many objections there were to the application.When I put it to him that there were over two thousand he said that there could be that amount.He had said in his witness statement that it was a development with 357 mixed private and affordable houses.When I asked him how many affordable houses he said he didnt know.I told him there were twelve and he conceded that there were.
When he read his statement he stated what was included in the development he went through all the usual rubbish.He amazingly, at first, told the judge that the dance floor would still be in the visitors centre,he still maintained the visitors centre would be there.He said he didnt know what would take the place of the spot that had been left in the leisure centre by the bowling alley being taken out.It wasnt until I realised that I was allowed to ask questions and did so,that he told the truth. When I asked him why he hadnt stated the real facts to the judge when he read his statement from a few weeks ago out? He said because he was told to read out the statement that he had made when those things were still the case! Like he couldnt have told the judge what the case was now as he went along happily perjuring himself and still making out that all these things were still going to happen when he knew as he was reading them that they werent?

I questioned him as to why he thought that building on 18 acres of land would regenerate the town when building on over 300 acres at the top of our town hadnt? He wouldnt answer me apart from to say that thats what their report had said.I confronted him with the fact that their own consultants report had admitted, as had the Redcar business association that our town was in decline.He shrugged his shoulders and couldnt answer.Likewise when I asked him how 357 houses, a pub,estate shops,a creche,roads and roundabouts and a 5GP surgery with dentists,opticians and pharmacy was ever considered as a major visitor attraction of regional importance?

He tried to defend the leisure centre saying it contained things we didnt have now.So I went through the list.Dance floor? Weve got a brilliant one. Gym and sports courts? Got them.I told him the only thing we dont have is a pool which I told him we could have without the houses because the council have borrowed £8,000,000 to prop this dead scheme up.And when you bear in mind that Cllr Fitzpatrick has already admitted that a top rate pool costs just £5,000,000 then we could easily afford one and spend £3,000,000 totally regenerating the bowl which is one of the best venues around and our leisure centre.He didnt answer.

Today I summed up.I said to the judge that he couldnt make a proper decision on the stopping up of the paths because among other things this scheme is so contentious that planning permission being granted just shouldnt be as nailed on as the council and their expensive barrister were making out,and if planning permission wasnt granted then what would be the point of stopping up paths that had been used for many years without interference from the council.I told him of all the contentious issues that had arisen over nearly three years,all the ones we had brought to light and some that hadnt.

Like the PCT denying all knowledge of the addition of a 5GP surgery to the leisure centre in ammended plans in November,that it was added speculatively as Stephen Childs PCT manager said at the consultation meeting on the 9th January,by an unnamed council officer and Persimmon homes.For us to then discover that our chief executives wife just happens to be a non executive director on the board of the PCT and chaired the meeting where Stephen Childs put forward the reccomendations that the new surgery be moved to the leisure centre! (got all the minutes printed off and all the relevant info to back it up ready to put on our blog) I put all these things to the judge along with all the issues of the lack of consultation,the safety risk,the covenants and the witheld barristers opinion,massive public opposition and the fact that part of the Dormans path had already been registered.

In the end,I took on one of the best barristers in the country and this council in a court of law and I got the truth out of them under oath.I lost today and the paths were stopped up,but not before a district judge heard the truth and conceded that the stopping order had only been applied for to get round a public inquiry,that their alternative paths had nothing to do with public rights of way but more about putting in routes that new roads and pavements will follow,and that the council had done this to speed up the development because as I told him in my summation that this officer led scheme was attempting to be pushed through before the elections in May when the political make up of the council will probably change and hopefully this scheme will be taken back to the drawing board.

He knew the score of what was going on and and he had a full measure of what the council were up to.This is why he reccomended at the end of his summation that to try and restore public confidence after the "force of my submissions" that the council should release the barristers opinion to the people it was commissioned for,the public.Because he said and I quote from his summation, that he could not consider the covenants because he "has been given insufficient evidence on which to base any conclusion as to their extent or enforcibility" He even went onto say that "they may provide the objectors with a better remedy than is available to them in these proceedings"

I was apprehensive over these two days.In an attempt to try and deter people from attending court and having their say so that the councils barrister could argue the case that there was insufficient evidence of useage even though the village green inspector said there was,the council not only didnt inform the public of their right to object and be heard in court,when we found out that we could and 25 or so people hurriedly wrote letters to the court objecting before the deadline in February,the council then threatened evevryone with massive costs that saw noone, bar me, turn up for court and in some cases not even write letters to be handed in to the judge.To intimidate people to the extent of not doing what they are allowed to by right, in order to back up your argument that there is little evidence of use of footpaths, when there is and has been for decades, is a disgrace.

However,Iwent and was heard and the judge awarded nothing.This is the real face of elements of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.And all the things in the above posting are true and honest.There is going to be no major leisure development just a housing estate built on our Coast.The council want to push this before the planning application on the 19th of this month or thereabouts.They have lied to you and misled you and have fed you images of things that just simply arent going to happen.I have tried for three years to prove this.In court yesterday I did.Its just a pity that the Gazette who were there to report on the hearing didnt do so accurately,infact they made out the complete opposite in todays report.

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