Sunday, November 01, 2009

Last night at four minutes past nine...

Last night at four minutes past nine, I received this unexpected email from the leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, George Dunning.

Dear Chris,

Seems that R&CBC's dealings with Persimmon Homes are fine. District Auditor paid a visit last week on various issues. Nothing to say on Persimmons Chris. Appears the Development agreement signed under the Coalition is fine also.We hope to carry on developing the site after the successful boating lakeand Mo mosaic opening last week.



It is obvious that the council, perhaps even George himself, monitors this site as the timing of his response following the posting that I made yesterday, was absolutely perfect. I sent this response at around midnight...

Hello George,

I would have got back to you earlier but I havent been at the computer because I've been engrossed in the X Factor!

However, it's strange that I make a posting on my blog about a lack of a response from you regarding Persimmon being involved in a multi million pound fraud in Thamesmead and then later that evening you send me a reply? With timing like that, you should be a comedian!

A few things though, you say everything is fine with Persimmon because the District Auditor didn't mention them, but there again, the District Auditor didn't mention the final financial audit report that Moore and Richardson surpressed and then, after colluding with someone within the Audit Commission, replaced with another 'final' report that was more to Mr Moores and Mr Richardsons liking, so I wouldn't put any weight on Persimmon not being mentioned by the Auditor. But that wasn't what I asked, or for that matter, brought to your attention.

What I brought to your attention was that it has been established in a British Crown Court, that your preferred developer for the Coatham Scheme, have been found to have been instrumental in a multi million pound mortgage fraud and is this the kind of company that Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council should be dealing with? Do you think that it is right that as Mark Hannon said in the paper just this week, three million pounds of public money should have been spent aiding Persimmon in trying to start this scheme, when they have been involved in fraudulent activity with more public money being spent on things that are Persimmons' sole responsibility, to come?

Finally George, you state that the Development Agreement is fine. It may be legal George, we were informed at the JR or at the appeal stage that the Development Agreement was legal, but the legality of the Development Agreement is also not the issue here.

If the council had nothing to hide or be ashamed about, then why has the council done all that it can to stop that development agreement being shown to anyone? The council even resisted it being shown to a high court. I have a copy of a Gazette Letters page from a year or so ago, where you, in response to Councilor Valerie Halton, blamed the signing of the Coatham Development on the coalition that she was a part of when you said that it was the old Coalition and not the new Labour group who had signed the Coatham Development Agreement.Why would you apportion the blame for signing that Agreement if was something to be so proud of?

If it doesn't contain anything that won't cause concern to ordinary members of the public, then as with the barristers opinion, just show it. Don't hide behind commercial sensitivity or anything like that, disclose it to the public afterall, it's their money that is being spent. How can commercial sensitivity come into play now? I can understand you not showing anyone the Development Agreement because of commercial sensitivity when the scheme was in its early stages but not now, a few months after you had stated publicly that you were going to start work in July or August.

The councils commercial sensitivity argument doesn't hold any water anymore.

I'll tell you what, as you know I'm at Tribunal next week over the issue of the councils responses to me under the FOI act regarding the council being liable for the sea defence as part of the Coatham Scheme, something that is Persimmons' sole responsibility.

To save a whole lot of time and expense I am asking you now officially, as leader of the council George, to order the disclosure of the Coatham Development Agreement to the Tribunal and myself as I am acting on my own behalf, and lets see exactly what the council have committed public money to?

You claim to be open and transparent, well put that into practise and disclose that document to the tribunal and to me at the oral hearing next week.

I look forward to your response,



I thought, seeing as how the council are supposed to have adopted a policy of openness and transparency, that I would have had a detailed response but this morning, instead, I received this...

Thanks Chris,

You would say that Chris, never mind.



So I sent this reply...

Hello George,

Your email was hardly the response that I was expecting? I mean, you said absolutely nothing about Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council funding, and being involved with, a developer that has been shown in a British Crown Court to have been instrumental in a major, multi million pound fraud, you said absolutely nothing about the fact that it has been shown that your ex-CEO and Finance officer surpressed a final financial audit report that showed the council weren't a four star authority and then replaced it, with the assistance of someone in the Audit Commission, with another 'final' report that showed the council were a four star authority and you made no mention whatsoever of disclosing the Coatham Development Agreement to the forthcoming tribunal and myself in the interests of transparency and openness, let alone acknowledge my official request that you do so.

I'll make sure that when the newsletter goes out to the whole of Redcar, highlighting the Councils association with and funding of, a developer who has been 'instumental' in such a massive fraud, that your glib response to such serious, documented issues, is known.



It seems that this councils adopted policy of transparency and openness only applies to the things that want to be open and transparent about and they only want to comment on the things that they can claim some credit for. I've just been watching the politics show and there was a feature on council magazines being used to only put across what they want the public to know, not what is actually happening and that behaving in this manner is actually against the rules. I immediately cast my mind back to the time that the council were found guilty in a high court of having an unlawful Coatham planning meeting, of being found negligent by the audit commission for investing money in Icelandic banks against advice, of being found guilty of maladministration twice within six months and how in all of these cases not one word was mentioned in their council magazine?

I then remembered how both George Dunning and Mark Hannon had both made out in the press in early 2008, that the Coatham Village green issue was over and that we were beaten when in truth, the council had actually informed opposition solicitors that it was the councils intention to apply for an expedited rolled up hearing, something that the campaigners wanted themselves, before the press release went out. Dunning and Hannon were quite happy to paint a picture that suited them and they did not tell the truth to the people of this area in the press.

This downright failure to answer the questions and tell the truth is symptomatic in politics in this country and it was never more on display than in Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

They are an absolute disgrace and I will make sure that the public of this area know that this council have, and still are, funding a developer who have been found to have been 'instrumental' in a multi million pound mortgage fraud in an ongoing case in a British Crown Court, no matter how much Mr Dunning and his band of merry men try to evade the issue.

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