Complaint? No, its a service request!
On 31st October 2008, Mr Webb sent a letter of complaint to the Customer Requests Department at North East Lincolnshire Council that concerned the cleanliness of Walk Lane, Irby upon Humber, North East Lincolnshire, which is a recurring problem throughout the winter and spring months of every year. The image below clearly shows mud, dirt and filth deposited on the surface of this public highway by an adjacent landowner in pursuit of game birds.
Mud, dust, soil, grit, gravel, stones, rotted leaf and vegetable residues, and fragments of twigs, glass, plastic and other finely divided materials are some of the physical properties that comprise the make up of detritus. Although there is no statutory definition of detritus, local authorities have developed a common understanding of this term. Detritus on the surface of highways such as roads must be removed as a requirement of Section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which imposes a duty to keep highways and roads clean. The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recommends that detritus should be removed alongside litter and refuse by duty bodies from all other hard surfaces. Detritus is assessed separately from litter, using a grading system based on that for litter set out in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, issued under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Detritus grading is assigned four levels from A to D and three intermediate levels B+, B- and C-, which are not separately defined by the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. However, the Government's Cleanliness National Indicator (NI195) provides a grading system that is used by local authorities in determining the degree of cleanliness of a public highway for the purposes of both the NI195 and the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. The images below show the four levels (A to D) of detritus grading.
When the level of cleanliness falls below Grade B, the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse states that the hard surface of a public highway must be restored to Grade A within the maximum response time specified in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. It is our belief that in light of the grading images above, Mr Webb was rightly entitled to submit his concerns to the Council since the surface condition of Walk Lane shown in the first image demonstrates it was equivalent to that of Grade D.
In response to his complaint, Mr Webb received an unsolicited letter dated 21st November 2008, from Rob Walsh, Director of Law and Democratic Services. Within his letter, Rob Walsh stated:
"As previously been pointed out to you your 'complaint' is in fact a service request and will be treated as such and the Council will not be triggering its corporate complaints procedure.
Your allegations regarding the person responsible for depositing mud on the highway have been passed to the Council’s Highways Enforcement Team for investigation in the normal way.
I trust this is the end of the matter."
The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse states:
"Local authorities and other duty bodies should inform the public about procedures for making a formal complaint and the right to seek redress in the courts if the litter duty is not met.
The Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse is admissible as evidence in proceedings on a complaint, or for breach of a notice or order.”
Litter and the Law, a guide for the public issued by ENCAMS, states:
"Making a complaint about litter and refuse – litter abatement orders and summary proceedings for persons aggrieved by litter:
In the first instance, a complaint about a litter problem may be made by telephone or in writing to the local authority being specific about location, type and amount of litter. Some local authorities have litte 'hotlines' and should be able to respond quickly to complaints. If your council does not have a special number to ring, litter complaints are usually dealt with by cleansing, environmental health or technical services departments.
If this fails to resolve the problem, Section 91 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 gives an individual the right to take legal action (by formal complaint to the Magistrates’ Court) to get litter removed where an area consistently falls below the standard for longer than is allowed.
If an area managed by a duty body falls below the standard set out in the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse and the duty body will not put matters right, you can take legal action to get a litter abatement order through a magistrates’ court. You can do this as a resident, someone who works in the area, a regular visitor, or anyone who has a genuine interest in the locality and who is aggrieved by the defacement of the area by litter or refuse. You can act as an individual or as a representative of a local community organisation or voluntary group who has an interest in the locality.
It should be remembered that this legislation was created to allow individuals to improve the cleanliness of their local environment if they felt it was not up to standard."
Furthermore, North East Lincolnshire Council's Street Cleansing Charter states:
"If you have a query or complaint you can contact us at the office between 0900 and 1700 hours Monday to Thursday and 0900 - 1630 hours Fridays on telephone number 01472 324500, by email: email@example.com, or by post to: The Cleansing Unit, Environmental Services, Doughty Road Grimsby, DN32 0LL."
Evidently, for reasons already stated in guidance provided by the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, ENCAMS and indeed the Council's Street Cleansing Charter, Mr Webb was more than justified to bring his complaint, as with his previous complaints, to the attention of North East Lincolnshire Council. Mr Webb made it explicitly clear in all of his letters to the Council that he was entitled to bring those complaints to the attention of the local authority as a person aggrieved by the defacement of the area concerned since each of his letters state, "As defined by the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, I am an aggrieved person in this matter and therefore entitled to bring it forward as a complaint under the Environmental Protection Act 1990."
Plainly, there is no reference and nor is there any intention on the part of Mr Webb of any request to procure an investigation under the Council's Corporate Complaints Procedure. Furthermore, none of Mr Webb's previous complaints to which the Director of Law and Democratic refers to have ever been investigated using the Council's Corporate Complaints Procedure. Consequently, Rob Walsh's statement in this particular matter is purely fictitious.
We are most concerned and alarmed that Rob Walsh also stipulates that any complaint submitted by Mr Webb, under the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, is "in fact a service request and will be treated as such." Clearly, Mr Webb is an aggrieved person notifying a principal litter authority of a lack of cleanliness on a public highway that should be cleansed as per Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. As a service request, the Council is ultimately governed by the availability of resources and other policies and procedures where they can decide when and to what degree the public highway is to be cleaned and not when and to what degree it must be cleaned in accordance with the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse.
Rob Walsh also states that the, "allegations regarding the person responsible for depositing mud on the highway have been passed to the Council's Highways Enforcement Team for investigation in the normal way." The Council's "normal way" to deal with mud, dirt and filth on Walk Lane, Irby upon Humber is to engage a Senior Enforcement Officer, namely Mark Mosley, who has demonstrated his consistent failure over the years to exercise procedures laid down in the Council's Highway Enforcement Manual. It must be pointed out to Rob Walsh that Mr Webb's complaint was made under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and not the Highways Act 1980. In the past, all attempts by Mr Webb to secure a satisfactory outcome with the Council under the Highways Act 1980 have failed miserably, hence his future complaints under Section 89 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
We believe this is a clear indication of Rob Walsh's intention to prejudice Mr Webb's right to submit legitimate and justified complaints under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to North East Lincolnshire Council – the responsible duty body. Clearly, within his letter Rob Walsh admits to his awareness of the recurring cleanliness problem in Walk Lane over the years but fails to act upon it justly. We believe this is further evidence of his continued harassment and victimisation of Mr Webb for bringing other matters that are evident on this website to the attention of the wider public. Undeniably, through his improper use of Council resources and maladministration, Rob Walsh's detrimental and unprincipled behaviour towards Mr Webb and his family in these matters undoubtedly proves his vindictiveness in issues where he should have applied the law equally and effectively.
The Director of Law and Democratic Services has again demonstrated his ability to apprehend genuine and vaild concerns from Mr Webb and then unduly subject them to his own personal and distorted interpretation of policies, procedures and lawful requirements. It has become quite apparent that over the years, his threatening and intimidating manner equates to an abuse of position, which serves no other useful purpose other than to persecute Mr Webb and his family and squander untold sums of Council Taxpayers funds in pursuing his personal vendetta.
We believe the time has come for Members of North East Lincolnshire Council to consider taking necessary action to reprimand or indeed remove this Senior Officer, who is out of control, along with other sycophants employed by this local authority. It must be understood that Mr Webb and his family are not the only citizens to suffer harassment, alarm and distress at the hands of Rob Walsh – there are many other victims including a Member of Parliament.
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