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LDC and the Complaints Procedure

On 27 Feb 2010 at 6:10pm Geoff wrote:
Since Cllr Gardiner has kindly written on this forum regarding the problems LDC Planning Dept, I though it would be worth providing some of the documents he refers to. In 2006 Lindsay Frost supported changes to the Complaint prodeure because of a considerable rise in planning complaints. This is an excerpt of the scrutiny commitee minutes. Cllr Commin is Cllr Gardiner's predecessor, as Lead Member for Planning. As residents began to become aware C2005 that the activities of the planning dept were not all they seemed, the number of complaints rose. This was interpretted by LDC, without any evidence provided, as evidence that people were 'mis-using' the complaints procedure. It is not clear to me why LDC would consider any complaints 'mis-using the procedure, or how you can 'mis-use' a complaints proceudre. It did not occurr to anyone to even discuss the posibility that it might be that there was more resaon to complain. Indeed, this committee did not mention tha unusually, if not for the first time, t there had been administrative fault found by the Local Government Ombudsman, that year, . The LGO identified numerous failures that had occurred in the procedure.
10th March 2006
"Councillor Commin stated that he had requested that the matter be considered by the Scrutiny Committee because of the high proportion of planning complaints proceeding to Stage 3 Complaints Panels and the associated resource issues. The Planning Complaints Procedure created considerable quantities of work for the Director of Planning and Environmental Services, the Assistant Director (Development Services) and the Committee Officer. While it was intended that the Complaints Procedure was designed to deal with complaints solely with regard to procedure, it seemed that some complainants now used the procedure to challenge planning decisions they disliked, which amounted to a third party planning appeal system. Accordingly, the complaints procedure was being used for a purpose for which it was never intended which was unsatisfactory for all concerned.
The Director of Planning And Environmental Services provided a briefing note, a copy of which appears in the minute book. He pointed out that a disproportionate number of planning complaints proceeded to stage 3 of the procedure, the Complaints Panel. While just 15% of complaints received to date in 2005/2006 were planning related, 87% of those complaints proceeding to stage 3 were planning matters. Regardless of the findings of a Complaints Panel, the power of the Council to reverse a planning decision by such means was virtually never exercised. The Director of Planning And Environmental Services believed it was undesirable for planning complaints to be dealt with on a different footing from others within the Council's complaints procedure and it was therefore a question of whether, and if so how, the current system could be improved for all complaints.
Cllr gardiner is, I believe, a scientist, so perhaps he could explain how Mr Frost defined 'disprop'ortionate" as opposed to 'accurate" Even if half were 'disproportionate, that would leave an enormous number of complaints about the planning department, and Mr Frost tells us nothing about the validity of these complaints. It is of course perfectly possible for all of them to have been valid.
It is rather diturbing to find that LDC planning Departments response to such a large number of complainrts was not to investigate, or review, but instead to change the complaints procedure to limit the scope of complaints, and most disturbingly, any issues that arose during the progress of a complaint. Competent complaints procedures understand that a compliant is an opportunity to learn how to improve services, and that these issues often only become clear as the complaint progresses.
The full document can be found online. Scrutiny Commitee Lewes 2006 March
On 27 Feb 2010 at 6:19pm Geoff again wrote:
and apologies for typos. I keep posting befoire spellchecking :-)
On 27 Feb 2010 at 10:06pm Dave Hedgehog wrote:
Do you by any chance live alone or with your mother?! And also are you one of those 'Angry of Lewes' type of letter writers? I am adicted to your posts however due to there breath taking pomposity, the i know best tone, clearly Geoff you are an expert in every field you have ever devoted time to and i can only admire your prowess, please carry on, my days would be empty without reading your war and peace style of posting. Carry on................
On 1 Mar 2010 at 11:58am Eh? wrote:
Dave, which Lib Dem party member/Council employee are you? Geoff's posts are some of the only ones that ever make sense, because you can check what he says. Altthough he seems to have bought a Blackberry, because his spelling and punctuation have gone crazy recently. Looks like the old adag, 'no one ever likes it when you are right" is true.
On 1 Mar 2010 at 1:02pm Polly wrote:
LOL at Dave Hedgehog, my thoughts exactly, clearly geoff has no life...
On 1 Mar 2010 at 1:22pm Old Cynic wrote:
I lost the will to live at the second paragraph.....
On 1 Mar 2010 at 1:38pm Fan of Geoff. wrote:
Geoff for Mayor.
On 1 Mar 2010 at 2:22pm No Pot Pourri wrote:
I tried to follow this thread but my brain started bleeding in the first paragraph. Any chance of a summary? Do they still teach precis at school?
On 1 Mar 2010 at 10:41pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Thanks old cynic and npp for making me laugh. I'm glad Geoff is trying to do something even though I too lost the plot on the second line. Who is up for the precis challenge ?
On 2 Mar 2010 at 11:23am Geoff wrote:
My English teacher would be ashamed. Yes my keyboard is too small. The main confusion is that the middle bit is a direct quote from the document you can find online. It finishes with the word "complaints" .
To be honest I wasn't expecting anyone to read it, other than Cllr Gardiner who seems to have a problem knowing what his officers are doing. Instead he is more obsessed by who is writing things he finds it hard to stomach, using a method out of his control. Time to help him out. The precis is that Cllr Gardiner is defending any criticism of LDC officer and wrote one of his usual partially informed letters in a thread below. I claimed that Lindsay Frost had reacted to a rise in complaints by changing the complaint procedure instead of improving his department. Cllr Gardiner interpretted this, as usual, as a resident being wrong. This resident wasn't wrong. Cllr gardiner might like to explain next what Lindsay Frost has been doing trying to prevent Lewes from being in the National Park, and who he was representing when he made this decision. The Lib Dems, or acting on his own? I am just curious.
Polly, as I say every time I read a post like yours, if I am so boring, why are you reading my posts and commenting on them? That makes two of us dullards. :-)
On 2 Mar 2010 at 12:31pm Polly wrote:
To geoff - hey you're right! Lol. But I'm bored on my lunch break AT WORK - are you at work??
On 2 Mar 2010 at 12:44pm Karen wrote:
Hi Geoff,
We should believe in parallel relative matrix approaches with regard to planning. We need a more blue-sky approach to quality organisational planning. Exploratory research points to compatible asset contingencies. We need a more contemporary reimagining of our compatible digital paradigm shifts in terms of planning. At base level, this just comes down to optional relative paradigm shifts. We need a more contemporary reimagining of our ambient relative concepts and a more contemporary reimagining of our deconstructed administrative resources. Our exploratory research points to three-dimensional transitional capability.
On 2 Mar 2010 at 1:10pm Yawn wrote:
I see the Lib Dems are busy trying to belittle residents again. Hi Karen/Polly
On 2 Mar 2010 at 1:16pm yawn wrote:
Thought I would restore the thread name too.
From what I read it comes down to LDC getting a massive rise in complaints, and instead of addressing why that was, they just changed the complaints procedure to get less complaints. That is very bad. I also see that Geoff hasn't really complained about the Councillors, just the officers, so perhaps I am wrong and Karen/polly are LDC employees. Either way don't shoot the messenger.
On 2 Mar 2010 at 1:16pm Karen wrote:
yawn........you have no sense of humour
On 2 Mar 2010 at 1:22pm Yawn wrote:
No, I put it in a drawer with Peter Gardiners common sense, and someone has screwed it shut. sorry
On 2 Mar 2010 at 2:28pm Sylvia wrote:
Geoff is plain wrong and misleading, something he claims the council does all the time, on the National Park. Check the facts, Frost has never been against the Park and the Lib Dems campaigned to be in it, unlike the Tories.
It raises the question about how right Geoff is on some other things. Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.
On 2 Mar 2010 at 4:48pm Polly wrote:
Hi Yawn! I don't get involved with politics and if I did I doubt I would be a Lib Dem - but nice of you to say hello! Made my day!
On 2 Mar 2010 at 7:04pm Dave Hedgehog wrote:
Perhaps Geoff could stand for the 'Geoff Party'. Then once elected we could bombard him with complaints about everything, it would be brilliant. Although obviously Geoff would be man enough for this role as he is an authority and expert on everything and would have all the answers. To misquote the early 90's Nike advert "I wanna be like Geoff". Lets get some T Shirts printed!
On 3 Mar 2010 at 1:55am LTR wrote:
Actually Sylvia, I am afraid you are wrong again. Not only did Lindsay Frost, a very long time ago try and keep Lewes out of the National Park, at an initial meeting. but LDC were secretly trying to oppose the rights of the national park to control planning even after the announcement was recently made that we were 'in'. They were trying to get together a group of Councils affected. You would know this if you worked in one of those other Councils. Its one of the reasons LDC is such a current laughing stock. Since the Lib Dems genuinely want to be in the park, haven't you ever wondered why originally Lewes wasn't included.? I have read Geoff's post and there isn't any criticism of Lib Dems overall that I can see, so why do you think there is? And of course the Tories got it wrong. They are idiots! We all know that! I am sure I am not the only one who think that Geoff is making some people in LDC very uncomfortable indeed, and that the bullying tone of some of the responses only serve to indicate that he is right..
On 3 Mar 2010 at 7:56am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I agree. I think Geoff seems to have hit a nerve, and good on him.
Our planners are a disgrace.
On 3 Mar 2010 at 10:49am Ed Can Do wrote:
I'd vote for Geoff, although I suspect he'd need a similar bullet-proof setup to Obama for his inaugaration speech with all the feathers he seems to be ruffling.
On 3 Mar 2010 at 11:46am East St Resident wrote:
Anyone who witnessed LDC make a complete mess up the handling of two new builds in East St will know there is something wrong, That series of cock-ups generated complaints by the dozen, so it is galling to now find out that Mr Frost described them as 'an abuse of the complaints procedure' Since Mr Frost had to recommend enforcement action against work approved by his own officers, I can only describe his comments as duplicitous.
On 4 Mar 2010 at 10:21pm Leaky wrote:
using Geoff's technique of getting original docs. I found this on the net, from District Solicitors own report.
Please note that the background papers attached to the Investigating Officer's report are marked "confidential". While the Investigating Officer's findings may be disclosed, the disclosure of information gathered during the course of an investigation may be an offence under Section 63 of the Local Government Act 2000. Section 63 prohibits the disclosure of information gathered during an investigation. The background papers should therefore be treated as confidential.
so it looks like LDC may have been committing an offence, by releasing onto the net original documents from the investigation. I found the letters referred to above as well. I would be livid if they were mine. One is a witness statement.

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