Wednesday 17 October 2012

The Breckman case - enter the council's Press Office

In the run-up to the broadcast of last night's edition of Week In Week Out Carmarthenshire County Council issued a statement to a number of its councillors, although it seems that by no means all were on the distribution list.

My comments in red. 

"Tonight’s Week In Week Out programme is focusing on the Ombudsman’s report into a planning issue. Please see below for the Council’s response:

The council is not able to take part in the programme as this is a neighbour dispute involving more than just one party and we are not allowed to discuss what are private matters of individuals in a public arena. The council deals with around 600 enforcement cases every year, and many of them involve disputes between adjoining property owners where feelings can become heated. We are not at liberty to divulge confidential information about such disputes in public.  

[Note that the council also refused to take part in the programmes dealing with the Delyth Jenkins case and the Towy Community Church bowling alley. In the latter case the reason given was that it could not discuss political matters in the run-up to the council elections in May, although the Chief Executive found no difficulty in criticising opposition candidates on other matters in Llanelli around the same time.

Of course, the council could have taken part and confined its comments to the wider implications and principles involved.]

We have accepted that the Ombudsman has partially upheld this complaint and we are complying with his recommendations. Where there are constructive observations as to our procedures these are being implemented.

[Such as?]

We are disappointed that the Ombudsman, having twice dismissed these complaints over a period of years, chose to re-open a dispute which goes back to 2001. 

We are also disappointed that  he looked at  evidence produced by one of the parties to the dispute only, which we consider did not give a balanced view as to the events of the past decade. Had he looked at both sides of the dispute we feel he may have come to different conclusions. As the local Planning authority we do not have the luxury of listening to one side only in cases of this nature.

We are also concerned that the council’s  Head of Planning was not allowed to comment on the Ombudsman’s own planning officer evidence, as we have a different opinion on some aspects of planning law referred to in the report. 

[This is an extraordinary attack on the Public Service Ombudsman which calls his integrity and impartiality into question. It also shows that, as in the cases of Delyth Jenkins and Mr M, the council has learned nothing and will not take the Ombudsman's extremely detailed findings to heart.]

We are satisfied that the council’s planning officers acted with integrity throughout the past ten years during which this dispute has taken place and that they have not shown any favour or bias to either of the parties. Their investigations have, during the period, involved numerous visits to the site in question and we can only act within the planning law and on the basis of evidence which is actually available at any given time.

[One of the mysteries of the case is why the council's planning officers were unable to spot what was so patently clear to everyone else, including the officer from the Planning Inspectorate.]

Welsh translation to follow.
Debbie Williams
Rheolwr y Wasg/Press Manager"

Last night's programme raises more questions than it answers. One of the biggest mysteries is why the council was so reluctant to take action against Mr Thomas. Was it just spectacular incompetence and laziness? Did the enforcement officers feel frightened and intimidated themselves? Or did one party to the dispute have helpful connections in the council?


Anonymous said...

It's like Romney pointing a finger at Obama. A totally rude thing to do and he makes out to be a Christian Church Going person.

Mamwlad said...

The programme in question did seem extremely unbalanced. Another take on it could have been a hard working local trying to earn a crust for his family; he probably lived this way for most of his working life without any complaints from anyone. However, Mr Thomas’s life was turned into turmoil when the (butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths) ‘Good-lifers’ from England arrived as his neighbour, though this angle would have been dismissed immediately because this programme was made by the BBC.

Cneifiwr said...

I think you must have been watching a different programme. The council had received lots of complaints from locals before the couple moved in.

Would you be happy if your neighbour turned his garden into a scrap yard with noise day and night? Probably not.

That's why we have planning laws.

Anonymous said...


There weren't lots of complaints before they moved there. There were several complaints by the same person and one or two others. Good God....where I live there have been complaints about children having singing lessons.

johnsouthwales said...

i wouldn't be happy if there was a large chunk of the story 'missing' or not disclosed.

But what were the other issues mentioned by the locals? are they in the public domain at all? there doesn't seem to be much at all in the media except some sort of 'gagging' made by 'you know who' at the council.

And like i mentioned earlier, the only way to get to the bottom of it is by having a full public inquiry where all the history is disclosed. And then may we understand the whole picture.

Yes, the framer was naughty by failing to notify the change of use. Yes people try to earn a living by stretching the rules.

People do get upset when something starts to go wrong whether it's planning or not. Some areas have been tranquil and a council has allowed that area to suffer.

In a way, it's like a quite street enjoying it's quietness to be interupted by a unruly family moving in, and the unruly family do not understand what the fuss is about when some form of complaint is issued. They get offended and if they don't know what the problem is, they tend to get worse.

At the end of the day, someone's 'tranquility' had been disturbed.

All the farmer had to do was change the use and maybe have had working conditions attached to it, which is sensible, restricting movement to between 9am until 6pm. As it seemed to have been a noise issue in the evening.

And when someone makes a legitimate complaint, they become a target. As the system does tend to favour the employer's side.

It's hard to impliment a right to peace and quiet rule. I can't complain about the noise in London for example when i'm used to the tranquility of wales. Or then again, someone living in wales living on a main road, they get used to the noise (as mentioned by c.jones first minister)... yes, he told me that...long story.

Maybe they rubbed the farmer up the wrong way a long time ago and it started from there, who knows.
But even though the film gives the appearance of the farmer acting in an unreasonable manner, that part is civil BUT if it is premeditated as in narrowing the access to the lane wether legitimately or out of malice, that gives grounds to harassment which of course is a criminal offence.

Maybe all of this could have been averted if ccc did actually notice any evidence of change of use.
If a ccc officer entered the farm and stayed where he was, then he couldn't see anything untoward. But the issue was the shed. Did the officer go into the shed?
It's no good the ombudsman saying he or she must have seen the lorries. If the lorries were there and seen, all the farmer has to do is say he's parking them there and the council be satisfied. Maybe the farmer will say they are needed because of clearing land. That would have been a legitimate use. What the key point is, is the change of use of business to scrap. That is totally different to any of the other two.

If the issue was the movement of lorries whilst land clearing or quarrying, that seemed to have been an issue to start.

Yes people have some form of right to earn a crust. Would it have made any difference to the peace and quiet? I doubt that. It seems to be a gripe that someon'es tranquility had been spoiled, they realise they haven't had the planning permission and someone decided to do something about it, and the farmer took offence, when none should have taken place because he hadn't had premission to operate the business. And some personality clash took place. i'm right and you're wrong.

maybe the farmer decided or didn't know he had to notify the council about change of use? and since the council would have charged him money for the change, maybe he did it to save cash?

But, like we all say, who do the council think they are telling us what to do?

johnsouthwales said...

besides that, the main issue is not only the change of business, but there was no planning permission for the shed.

Not forgetting many farms in the uk had been encouraged by governments to diversify from 2000

Eddie Roberts and his partner Trisha Breckman moved to the Gwendraeth Valley in December 2003

The couple claim the trouble started as soon as they moved in.

"Within days of moving in we realised there was a haulage company, Karen Bowen Haulage Services, being run from next door,"

That sounds like to me the haulage firm was already in place....

"the council has not established, in planning terms, that a haulage business is being run from the property.
They are in no doubt who is to blame. "Carmarthenshire Council should have enforced change of use on the property when it discovered there was a haulage company operating from there,"

"This matter has been investigated fully by the county council, and the site visited on numerous occasions and both the complainants and occupants of Blaenpant interviewed.

"The council is also aware that this complaint emanates from a breakdown in relations between neighbours.

"If further information relating to any breach of planning control is submitted to the council, this will be considered in accordance with the appropriate legislative provisions."

The inquiry heard that Carmarthenshire Council had refused Mr Thomas retrospective permission for a hard-standing area for agricultural machinery.

Items found at the site included an old caravan, a redundant fire engine, diggers, tankers, lorries, engines, skips, metal tanks, concrete sleepers and scrap metal.

Carmarthenshire Council's development control officer, Ceri Davies, said the authority had acted properly in refusing planning permission.

Anonymous said...


That's a balanced view you have set out there. I have stated earlier that I don't think the good lifers were as innocent as was made out on the programme. One of them said....that it had taken years out of their life. If it was such and ordeal, they could easily have moved for the price of their house would have steadily increased throughout that decade. Prices peaked around 2007/8. It seems now Ms Breckman wants both the agencies to apologize to her and she will not rest. "The fight goes on" as the programme ended said. Some quiet retirement. And that article you quoted on the BBC I gather John must be wrong for Mr Roberts said that it was 11 years of their life destroyed which takes us back to 2000/2001 depending on when th programme was made. Meaning they could have realised an even better profit on their property if sold.

Looking at the clip where Rogers is situated at the end I want to make a few points....1. the farm isn't that close to the good life home. 2. There is a lane from their house to a road or another bigger lane so their tranquility can't have been compromised that much. 3. The good life home was in surrounded by land and that may well be where the horse was being sent possibly being blocked by Ms Breckman. 4. Mt Thomas' haulage firm is well.....small fry. Imagine what it must be like living in Llanfyrnach with Mansel Davies and Son in the middle of the 'village' but people do happily live there. 5. Mr Thomas would have been better off to open his own cattery (sp) to cater to other good lifers then he would have had fewer complaints.

caebrwyn said...

It was the denial of the presence of a haulage yard by the council that was so baffling to anyone who has followed this case. Apart from the overwhelming evidence provided by Mrs Breckman (at the request of the council), other residents also provided evidence, even the appearance of the haulage company in various online business directories, "open 7am - 7pm Mon -Sun" failed to sway the senior planners. Mr Thomas's admission under oath during the 2010 Inquiry that he'd been running a haulage business from the site for 10 years was, unbelievably not given 'weight' by the planning department.
Junior planning officers, over the years, reported that there was 'little or no agricultural activity' at the site yet when the various planning irregularities reached senior officers, the site once again became a 'farm' and developments justified via 'officer discretion'.
There is no doubt that this saga is complex but ultimately, two independent professional voices, the planning inspector and the ombudsman found the council at fault. The ombudsman spent 18 months investigating this case in enormous detail. It was the result of the public inquiry in 2010, where the planning inspector saw, in a 20 minute visit, what the Head of planning had failed to see for 10 years, which vindicated Mrs Breckman and enabled her to bring the whole matter before the ombudsman.
As the ombudsman said on the programme, this was no ordinary neighbour dispute.
We now hope that this case will be the catalyst to launch a full public inquiry into planning department and the associated departments and authorities connected with this, as well as all the other cases which Carmarthenshire residents have brought to the attention of the Welsh Assembly, the politicians, the Wales Audit Office and the ombudsman over the years.

johnsouthwales said...

the haulage was up and running before they moved in. what the farmer should have done is amended the use. technically the farm still existed and it would have been in their interests of keeping that 'purpose' intact. It is a grey area as the new business of haulage is registered to the address and not to the land.
In effect, all they were doing is running a business outside of their 'farmland' and bringing the vehicles home initially.
What they should have done was do a fresh application but maybe didn't do this either to save money or maybe had found a loophole, or simply assumed that they didn't need new planning permission as they may have thought this is my land and i can do what i like and nobody is going to stop me.

As for the quarrying, i have my own theory about that.

If i opened a shop for example that was dealing in books and a year later i decided it wasn't working out and changed it to audio/video/dvd sales. Do i apply for new planning or ask them to amend it. Or do i keep quiet and hope for the best?

as the haulage was already operative whether legally or not before they moved in, sheds some light into the initial problem.
For what we can see, the farmer had a business, someone moves in and gets the hump and goes to the council. The new owners get the hump with the council as well and the farmer gets the hump because the new owners reported them to the council and was threatening their business.

I would have thought that even if there some discretion from the council, they should have applied a limitation. But how could they if it was still being classed as agricultural use? farming has some odd hours such as baling in the summer and transport machinery up until late in the evening while the days are lighter. And somehow morphed itself into lorry business.

Maybe the farmer had 2 or 3 lorries in the beginning and grew into 5 or 6 in the later years plus the other bibs and bobs.

I don't see how officer discretion can be applied to the shed.

People have been pushing planning permission for years and try to get away with what they can now and then. The difference is with the farmer, it was permanent.

It still will be of interest of what the other neighbours gripe was. possibly lorry movement and noise issues in the evening, or the digger in the evening quarrying

I'd be inclined to believe mrs breckman didn't know about the up and running business because during their viewing, they wouldn't have been there for long, and missed the lorries leaving and entering. I would have thought that the estate agent would have mentioned it in their literature as the haulage was a registered business

johnsouthwales said...

whatever occured initially obviously grew into something more serious. If you tell the council something, it is deemed as hearsay.
If it is recorded on video, that becomes evidence. if the council don't do owt about it, that is the problem. having one or two snippets of video footage doesn't really apply to the whole picture, as long as the council have enough to act on and are satisfied with it.. If the council would have recognised it was a problem. Having no planning permission is THE problem.. in hindsight, if permission was originally granted, would the movement of lorries have been an issue? Maybe, the farmer knew his farm business was coming to an end because of diversification and knew the lengthy process of changing the use of business and decided to say stuff it and carried on regardless because it was costing time and money. But rules are there in place, and most of us complain about council rules.

Maybe the council did turn up and had a look, and saw nothing because the lorries were already offsite. But they couldn't argue or disagree with the video evidence presented to them, even if they still class it as hearsay.
They have got to see it for themselves to corroborate it. And if they were turning up after the lorries had left, what chance do they have of colating it? or leaving before they return to site.

I had to laugh the other day, the council turned up to do a traffic survey involving a school when it was presented to them the issues evolved around school start time, school run etc.. what time did they show up? 11am when there was nothing to see LOL

same attitudes, different scene.. Both missing the action

johnsouthwales said...

the dangerous territory is this.. when there are grounds for a complaint, YOU are deemed as a troublemaker, and this has been in existence for decades. This perception is evident wherever you go hether it's returning a faulty item to a shop or kicking up a fuss with the council or police because they haven't done owt about a genuine complaint.

And when a person believes they are up against a system, they believe that is how they sysyem is. The system is designed to protect itself from outside 'agaitators' ie the complainant.

If the farmer applied for permission in the beginning, all of this could have been averted.
Then again, the farmer later was turned down permission for the shed and still constructed it - so it maybe safe to assume they would have ignored the planning permission for the change of business.

the council's role in the complaint - fobbing off, call it what you want.. failing to find evidence. if the lorries are leaving at 7am and the officer is still in bed, what hope have they got in colating the complaint? they have got to see it for themselves unless they accept the video evidence as truth.

as for the police role in the event, that is another matter. But the problems were born out from the council's role. They had interviewed the farmer. All they had to do was check it out, but if the council are not there when the lorries are leaving, what can they do? if council hours are from 8.30 until 5pm, what can they do when they leave at 7am and return at 7pm?

A lot of people have had some sort of complaint against the council one way or the other, even myself. And it gets serious when they attempt to deny your complaint is true, even when i know exactly know where the problem lays, the council officer has actually told me the problem is not coming from where i think it is.. How odd. especially when i have studied the problem for a year LOL.

what ceases to amaze me is that plaid were notified about problems years ago and they did nowt and didn't want to know. Then again, labour councillor did the same..
Makes you think doesn't it??

johnsouthwales said...

i don't really know what's going on
The welsh office gave permission to build one shed E/09576

The quarrying was for legitimate use - hardcore base for this shed.

There was a case where karen thomas was fined a lot of money for erm, keeping a cockerel on her farm in 2008.

The haulage business was a bit earlier dating to 2000 now,
if all along only two lorries were used that was causing the initial upset. Two lorries leaving and entering wouldn't really have disturbed mrs breckman.

Probably the noise of the quarrying was more likely to cause a disturbance, but quarrying is possibly already in the original planning app as part of the nature of farming business and land clearing. All sorts of things happen on a farm, even tree clearing time to time amongst other noises.

The farm is a quite large with two nearby houses. It is not a scruffy looking farm, as it sounded out to be an unsightly scrap metal yard.

Anonymous said...

@ johnsouthwales - The Council operate a flexi time scheme where employees are permitted to start and finish work between the hours of 7am and 7pm

johnsouthwales said...

Without much else information floating about, all we can do is look at what info is available.
A couple come to wales unaware that there are a couple of lorries in the farm leaving and entering whenever on call as a business.

The new home owners are disturbed by this, as i am not sure how they could be as their house is quite a bit away from the entrance and would not have gone past their front door. Whether the sight of the lorries or the sound of them in the distance was the issue, only they can tell that..
The sound of revving diesels leaving, and reversing when entering in the distance.

The trouble with this is the distance between the farm buildings and Mrs B house is around 100 metres.

The quarrying would have made more of a racket than the lorries as the rock spot is closer to their home than where the sheds are - but the farmer had a right to excavate his own land. it maybe sounding inconsiderate but some people don't tell their neighbours they are going to be working and there maybe some noise during the day.

Looking through the planning application history, the farmer was granted other works.

sep 2011 RESURFACING OF ACCESS TO FIELDS WITH CLEAN STONE - granted -objector mrs breckman

2008 REPLACEMENT AGRICULTURAL BUILDING (granted)- objector mrs B

granted - objector mrs B.

seems odd but mrs breckman didn't object to the shed that was refused

Otherwise the other works and planning went ok.

Going back to the beginning, the two lorry haulage firm was already in existence. yes the farmer may have been a bit naughty in not notifying the council about amending use of address but everything else was registered.

There may have been a bit of noise in the distance as i know what a lorry sounds like from 100 metres. what may have have been more of a nuisance would have been the reversing warning sound.

Reporting it to the council sparked off a fuss then things escalated.

Would the council have been concerend about a bit of noise in the distance?

So, the incident escalated because the council weren't taking mrs B seriously and she in turn was offended. other things occured including the arrest.

What we don'rt see is other footage that drove karen thomas to her tether. It now looks karen thomas was doing what mrs B was doing, armed with a camcorder and giving her a taste of her medicine back.

The quarrying was part and parcel of the land workings, so really there was no grounds to involve that in the documentary.
What the farmer could have done was to notify them there is going to be a bit of noise for a while during the excavating, but if communication had broken down by then, what can you do?

johnsouthwales said...

Even though the minor incident was very important to mrs B, it escalated because of the council.
Yers the farmer was in the wrong for building without permission and the enforcement would have meant to have it taken down.
probably the profiling would have cost a few thousand plus the framework.

Mrs B had the right to make a concern. As she said, she felt she was fobbed off. why is she on the persistent complainers list?

The initial complaint of running a business without planning and the shed have been replaced with a new set of complaints - the council.

If only the famer had notified the council about the change of use. The uk government in 2000 encouraged diversity, and maybe they were throwing grants as the earliest instance i can find of kbhs is 2000. Maybe they did it to save a few quid, maybe they didn't need to change the use of land because the land wasn't being altered, they still were keeping horses so it's still a farm at the end of the day with an extended business.. and maybe some confusion may came because they thought it was an extension they didn't have to notify the council. After all it was just a couple of lorries. Personally i wouldn't have thought anything of it but wew are not talking about me. the perspective has to be from mrs B's position and any of her concerns.

Which of course has evolved into the issue of the council. is it part of the culture of to dismiss a complaint? I have my own views of that, and i can say it goes back decades..and it's not only limited to the council.

and it's not only limited to the council, is it?

why did the chief exec put a 'gag' on them? i remember the SWG report at the time and thought what's going on here, and that was around the time of when my complaints were being drawn up

Anonymous said...


It seems that you know more about this case than:

The courts
The Planning Inspector
The Ombudsman
The Guardian
The Western Mail
Rhodri Glyn Thomas A.M.
Adam Price ex M.P.
Perhaps write a book on the subject and get it out of your system.

johnsouthwales said...

when a head of public protection is notified and requested to look into a complaint during stage 2, and a question was posed - which part of the complaint are you going to investigate? - the reply was all of it.

when the response came, it was obvious all of it had had not been investigated fully.

For example, when the head of public protection mentions there is no record of contact made. In a counter reply to this statement, another response came back stating it appears you have contacted so and so in the first place and went onto say he is not sure how you came into contact with so and so.

In other words, so and so was contacted, the council say there is no record in contacting so and so, then finally after a counter claim they admitted so and so was contacted, and later the ombudsman reckons the council did not investigate the complaint properly.

Many snippets like that are scattered around in a complaint.

And because a stage 2 procedure failed, the ombudsman was contacted hoping he will sort it out.. no. The ombudsman reply was he was unable to agree that the council did not investigate the issues properly. hmmmmm

Anonymous said...

Re;johnsouthwales... What about Business Rates..were they paid?

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that anybody doubting the 'good lifers' concerns regarding the developments next door to them should contact the Land Registry and view/obtain copies of maps and details of both properties.All should become clear..... All members of the public are entitled to do this....

johnsouthwales said...

that may have been a factor in the behaviour anon. someone was maybe just about to be exposed and found out, hence an escaltion of a dispute. Maybe they were taxed more on the haulage side which brought in more to gov coffers than to muck about with other technicalities. But if they felt as they were already paying business rates via farming and thought they didn't need to resubmit, as it would have been a complicated and time consuming process, council time etc.. if they declared 50% farmland redundant and the remaining 50% to be used as the new and additional business, the figure would have ended up being the same anyway.
It depends on the structure of use.
keeping horses in their field doesn't really class as farming as that can come under residential. But having two seperate businesses and purposes running from the same address even if under seperate names is another matter.

I'm sure they would have looked into it beforehand, but if they felt they didn't need to transfer it and carried on as normal, only he can tell.

Usually a council would be onto someone like a flash if someone wasn't paying their share. But if they can't prove another business was running, there's nothing to pay

Anonymous said...

Dai Ivornotion, LLandumpo..CARMS. This whole situation seems to be about getting retrospective planning, a common method in this area. It is possible that the farm would have been unable to get Highways approval for the development under normal planning application. Plus the details on the deeds affecting both properties would have to be considered.. One other very important point which is NEVER taken into account by property owners who say ' it's my property/land I can do what I like'. Oh NO you cannot do what you like YOU HAVE A DUTY OF CARE TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS....

johnsouthwales said...

i have a feeling this case is going to open a can of worms. just how many other businesses are operating without planning permission? if there was any discretion, where do you draw a line? is it ok to turn they eye to lorries but insist on planning for ten? or 6 even.. where is the line?

so if a particular contruction firm in ammanford are travelling on a particular road exceeding their quota, who's been enforcing that? after all betws council are fully aware with the maesquarre road issue.

there are loopholes in permissions.

enforcing issues. enforcing is enforcing at the end of the day whether it's planning, pollution, dog fouling or noise.. you try getting an enforcement officer round your house if for example a neighbour is deliberately letting their dog make a mess on YOUR lawn when previously they were letting their do roam on the council grass.
It's sods law that they will tell you to video it and who exactly has got 12 hours a day sitting and watching for a particular dog to come along whether 6am or 10pm.
If a person suspects it occurs at 7am, there is no guarentee it's going to happen again at that time. maybe it's a once a month thing, or once a fortnight.
Same thing if you suspect a person letting a public path, they may turn up at 9am when the offender usually appears at 8.45..maybe the dog walker had something to do and was late taking the dog aout at 1030 when they enforcers had left at 10am after an hour and they thought the walker wasn't coming lol.

and it would have been the same as monitoring the lorries. just because two appear on one day, it doesn't mean they will be there again the following day..

If the enforcer doesn't start until 8.30am, what hope have they got when things happen before that?
unless they accept the public's evidence, but then again the public haven't got all day to muck about staking out.

anything else? so we have a noise issue, planning issue, possible tax issue.. if it opens up a floodgate, how many other farms and residences operate a business without letting the authority know? farm owner with a taxi business.. then again, someone maybe subcontracted to a taxi business away from the residence but will be allowed to take the taxi home, giving the impression that the residence is the business.
Things are not as straight forward as things seem.

If someone lives in an ordinary house and works for a company, and works for cash at the weekend on the quiet,or does a job for someone as a favour, is that residence a place of employment and business? technically yes.

what if the farmer had applied for permission in 2000? what would the issue be then? it could have been opposed by the neighbours - whether it would have been granted or not is anyone's guess. But at least that would have been in the domain for potential buyers.
Even if there was no haulage firm, the farmer would have been entitled to quarry his own land.
Personally i do not see that part as being a justifiable reason for complaint. it's just the same as a neighbour carrying out works next door, say for example digging up a pathway with a kango for a few days - it's a scale issue and temporary workings. I feel the bbc were wrong to highlight that part as part of the story.
But any noise issue could still fall under a remit in other circumstances - such as medical concerns, interfering with another business (working from home etc).

If there was a vibration issue as well during quarrying, that's another one to add onto the pile.
Possibly it was objected to the farm entrance NOT because of fancy gates, but they knew what was going to come. There would have been the closest neighbour who would have an issue with vibration as the house is next to the road, then again there is the village to consider as well and any other outlaying routes.

johnsouthwales said...

then again, if you have a neighbour who blares music all day or tv, there are guidelines on noise permitted levels of noise, but that's domestic noise. which seems abit silly if someone can be issed a fixed penalty for persitent diy but commercial noise which is more audible can't.

which is the loudest? a tv at 60db ten metres away next door or 120db 50metres away? by the time that sound travels 50 metres, it would barely record 60db on a meter.

as a tv is variable to taste, usually between 40 and 60db.
permitted moise levels are 41db 7am to 7pm, 37db 7pm to 11pm, and 31db 11pm and 7am... which may suprise us all as we all can be breaking the law when we do jobs such as washing machine, mowing the lawn, strimming, and watching tv LOL.. a whisper at 3 meters is 30db btw

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you johnsouthwales for your comments they give me such a laugh and really cheer me up.. I am an avid reader of your comments, may I suggest that you would be an ideal candidate for a position in the council PR office, a wonderful contributor to the council rag newspaper and you should stand for election as a councillor..Good Luck..

johnsouthwales said...

no need for levity.. what i recalled this morning was the iorweth jones llandovery case from 1987 onwards. the council hadn't learnt from this. However i recall a conversation with a councillor sometime around 2008 and the subject cropt up in the dialogue, with the councillor vehemently defending the councils role and mentioned they have done everything to help him. And when i questioned this, the councillor became defensive and basically got a bit stroppy. why i don't know because the conversation was calm and collective until that subject cropped up.

What else can i think of from the top of my head? oh that photo in caebrwyn's site when they built that building next door to a womans bungalow in Kidwelly.

If there is any lack of consideration, look at those circumstances.

If plaid are serious about calling for a public inquiry for the mrs breckman case, i would suggest a complete review of all cases in all departments.

As mrs breckman mentioned, it was fobbed off. then it escaltes into a clash of wills, and that's how ugly these situations escalate into, and it's not just a small case of a minor dispute between neighbours anymore, people are really up against the system.

What would an enquiry find and would they have the power to make recommendations? That's going to be the key question. And what are they going to do to make everything right? and that change will have to be implemented across the board nationally and maybe the other councils may not take kindly to changes in their methods which were workable even if they haven't done anything wrong.

Planning always evolves around 2 parties. it used to be 50/50 but because of changes it's become 51/49 in favour of the developer - so people are onto a loser straight away. The more problems recorded, the more points go against the developer.

I been trying to recall something i read a while back but can't remeber where i seen it, but it was definately a council site..i could not believe what i was reading. It stated that spoiling my view is no longer an acceptable reason of objection.

whether it has been removed or amended since, and maybe that's why i cannot find that offending paragraph anymore.

most people will take offence to that as visual impacts are a source of objection.

If any inquiry does make recommendations, will they be enforceable.

Maybe the bbc didn't show all the evidence because it may prejudice a public inquiry.

As there had been a previous inquiry into the background where the farmer had admitted he didn't have planning permission for the change of use of business which leaves the council in a situation. Like they were saying, they couldn't find any evidence.

But the evidence was there for the shed that did not have permission and the council were clearly up to their necks in it because they didn't enforce it.

If it became a discretion issue, what discretion could possibly be used. The farmer could turn around and say you let me build an identical shed, why did you tell me i can't build the other one?

If that is what the inquiry will look at, the dicretionary, the only thing that possibly come out from it is to remove the discretionary concession altogether.

maybe a business will turn around and say look, if i can't have this shed built, i can't employ two or four people and it'll affect my business.

I still do not know why the council gave planning permission for one shed but not the other. both fell under the countryside act remit. Maybe it was a case of being one too many.
maybe the inquiry will look into why the first shed was granted when it shouldn't have.

even though all councils operate the same guidlines, no two officers have the same level of opinion. maybe the personality of one is favourable and the other slightly less favourable.

johnsouthwales said...

no two planning officers are the exactly the same. no two planning inspectorates are exactly the same.
each has their own unique opinion.

if a points system is used, one officer may give 4 points instead of 5 and that 1 single point can make all the difference. and comes down to splitting hairs. That's how the system works.
Sometimes a council does works when they are confident the works doesn't not affect the environment and turns out the works were hideous.

I know of one officer in the 80s said no to knocking down an interior wall because he thought it was a supporting wall. The wall was of course knocked down and he was proved wrong.

I still don't understand how that building in kidwelly was not an oppressive intrusion.

There aren't many systems that can be used. either they use a 100% no system and base findings on points as they have to give a reason why, and deduct points to achieve their 51% or more for their no reason.. or vice versa 100% and deduct points for objection reasons.

Or middle ground as that would be closer to true impartiality 50/50 and build the points up and down from there..

Maybe cneifwr doesn't like the dragon seat carving. maybe he does, who knows... but somewhere along the lines someone permitted it. maybe 51 people voted yes and 49 people voted no but it still went ahead besides a possible large opposition.

Anonymous said...


johnsouthwales said...

i do hope that the inquiry will come down like a ton of bricks on them (if they can the inquiry).
Maybe it will be in the public interest if there were a few other cases brought to light as well, just in case they say it may have been an isolated incident.

The plaid politicians know there are other cases and incidents in the history and so does carl sergeant.

Not that i'm excusing plaid for their role in my own case which was ridiculous.

I asked jonathan edwards a question asking him is it morally right that a pensioner has to spend extra money out from their own pocket to rectify botched up grantwork organised by carmarthenshire care and repair? he said no.

The circumstances surrounding the complaint procedure was stage 1 was with care and repair, and if no joy, proceed to stage 2. Now, stage 2 was dealt with by the chair of carmarhenshire care and repair and the correspondence address was with a certain officer addressed at county hall, carmarthen.

What he was basically doing was passing it back to care and repair to deal with, which was getting ridiculous. Things like a grants officer told a pensioner to learn to live with the defects amongst other things.

So, it went to the ombudsman. the repsonse from the ombudman was basically saying it wasn't in their their remit. How? the stage 2 of the complaint procedure was addressed to 2 spillman street, carmarthenshire county council, the addressee was a council officer so how on earth cannot be in their remit?

The complaint procedure suggests to contact the ombudsman if not happy with stage 2.

jonathan edwards asked me to send him details of my situation for him to look at, as i was under the impression that he was going to personally look at the paperwork.
I had an email froma case worker asking me what i would like jonathan edwards to do? which was a bit baffling as it wasn't for me to tell him what to do, he can see for himself, as the purpose of him asking me to send him the paperwork then ask me that question was rather taking the pish i thought.. then the caseworker said she has looked at the paperwork, spoke to jonathan edwards then got back to me saying there is nothing he can do.

so what was the point of all that charade? grrrrrr

johnsouthwales said...

i still don't know who is the worst offender, the farmer or the council. The latter just made things worse.

It's like the old saying, if it wasn't for you this wouldn't have happened.

if the farmer applied for permission and was granted, at the least mrs breckman would have been in a postion not to buy the house
(even though the business was registered and traceable whether granted or not).

But because the situation dragged on, it eventually lead to an arrest on top of other matters.

I know it's a bit complex, the onus was on the council to prove a business was operating - that is the crunch. What mrs breckman did was right in filming some evidence.
Personally it would have best to record the registration numbers of the lorries entering and leaving as well and close ups stating the name of the firm on the cabs.

From the councils point of view, they could have been just about any old lorry when filmed from a distance. But that was enough to bring the original inquiry as he admitted it all then.

What i haven't mentioned before was the fact that as it was actually registered as a haulage business as early as 2000, why didn't the council act on that part alone without the need of the breckman involvement? she was basically doing the council's job.

If he was caught being seen with a lorry now and then, he could easily turn around and say they were bringing in topsoil or he was transporting something out. then again he would need receipts for them so he couldn't really get out of it that way, unless he said his mate was bringing in soil as a favour or something. But he can't use that as a disguise if the council knew the firm exists and the firms lorry was entering and leaving.

The only way to prove it was for the council turning up before 7am and following him. The other items on the yard such as railway sleepers could just be circumstantial - the planning inspector should have known this technicality, but if he felt that there was just enough to suggest that there was another business there, that's fine. Suggesting and proving are two different things - and that's what they got to work on.

I don't doubt for a minute that it had ruined the breckmans peace of mind, as it is evident that it had escalated into unpleasentness.

If there is an inquiry, that won't change what has happened in the part. All because the council couldn't be arsed to do their job. That's what it all boils down to. And maybe they tried to hush it up... If you don't investigate, you don't find, so the problem doesn't exist...but it did.

or should it be called an inquest rather than an inquiry? If this was a police matter, charges could have been brought. What is the ipcc equivelant for the council?
The healthboard has culpabilty, the police have.. so where's the culpabilty with a council? who brings charges of disrepute or negligence? or does it just stay only with the ombudsman and they act on his recommendation?

And if they don't or dispute it, where can you go from there? I don't think there is anywhere else to go. Ultimately the buck stays in the county. so what is the role of carl sergeant. Is he really the penultimate? You cannot go higher than this level...or can you?
Is carl sergeant almost the penultimate but not quite? The penulitimate would be the first minister as i can't think of anyone higher than him.

Then again, if there was a problem with the ombudsman and you needed to make a complaint about him, where do you go? actually there is an avenue inside the ombudsman if anyone is not happy with their finding and that's it.

Anonymous said...

Ref.Johnsouthwales.... your problems with workmanship..have you contacted Age Concern, Citizens Advice or Trading Standards maybe they could advise you who to go to get help to put matters right.

johnsouthwales said...

a complaint was made against trading standards funnily enough regarding a seperate matter. and guess what? that was sent to the ombudsman too. eg they refused to clarify the advice they gave. They may have said something that was incorrect, which lead to the request of repeating what was said verbally and clarifying what they said. Plus an important question was unanswered asked during the complaint.

the head of public protection said in his response that there is no record of me being in contact withe a particular person.
When a council complaint was not investigated fully after they said all of the complaint will be investigated.

In an odd way, it was sounding as if i didn't exist. So i counter claimed this, and the reply i had to this counter claim after the investigation took place was that it appears that i had been in contact with the relevant person.

So, if they investigated fully in the first place, they would have known about this person as all the information was supplied clearly to the head of public protection to make his job easier.

What made that worse was the word appears. so they had approached the person, asked the person if i was in contact, and therefore still 'refuse' to confirm i was in contact. There is no appearance at all, either i was in contact or i was not in contact. And when i was in contact, and they realise this clanger, they did not admit they were wrong to suggest i was not in contact.

Anyway, the ombudsman's response was that they couldn't agree the council was at fault. How they came to that conclusion i do not know.

I did actually contact age concern in llanelli, they didn't do owt. basically it was left to me to do battle, and basically screwed up my life. The county councillor and town ward councillors was contacted, he did a vanishing act.

It was pointless me going to citizens advice because i already did what they would have advised me to.

Oh, joyce watson mid and west wales AM was contacted as well. who else? the commisioner for the elderly WAG. they did nowt.
I sent all the info as joycew watson caseworker said to email the info and i didn't have a reply/

Plaid cymru main office in cardiff were sent the same info.

Nobody did owt except me.

When something goes wrong and they know it, the cover up starts there and then, hoping the problem will sort itself out on it's own by magic.

carmarthenshire council admitted there was a problem as the officer advised to learn to live with the defects. care and repair agreed to redo the work but nothing came of it. care and repair said they would force the contractor to redo the work. nothing came of it. the contractor offered a full refund of all the grant money - nothing came of it.

Adam price asked a question to trading standards in a letter. the first letter apparently wasn't received in ty elwyn, llanelli, but when a reply actually came, the answer was not in the response.

The question was, what measures will trading standards take to prevent the trader from doing the same to somebody else?
Trading standards were warned about the trader late 2007.And the trader caused futher damage to other people and suffered loss in other area in feb 2008, thousands of pounds of damage.

johnsouthwales said...

christine gwyther was contacted too

because the labour county councillor didn't get involved. a plaid councillor was contacted outside the constituency. supplied paperwork, and at least some little action was performed which looked a bit constrructive.
a suggestion of a meeting between the councillor,care and repair, trading standards to sort it out came to nothing.

the labour councillor stated in may 2008 he will return after the election. did he? no

johnsouthwales said...

the labour councillor was initially contacted in feb 2008 along with adam price, and the letter was passed on by another labour town councillor, and also another labour ward councillor was contacted.

I was told that the labour county councillor deliberately avoided the peniosner when they both appeared at the local doctor surgery. i was told that he said to her these things take time. which baffled me a little bit because he had been avoiding me, as the initial letter contained brief information which was starting to alert him of the potential worsening of situations.
He had agreed to meet and even asked how long will it take? i said i wasn't sure but as there were many things, i suggested an hour. he confirmed the time of the meeting, and on the day itself, he cancelled it.

Plaid cynru said to me in feb 2008 it's a civil matter, and even suggested for me to take carmarthenshire county council to court.. Now that is what i call speechless. whether or not that was an off the cuff suggestion by the caseworker or not, i didn't bother asking if it was a joke or not as i didn't find that amusing at all when the situation was becoming serious as each day went by.

oh, the old carmarthenshire west and mid wales AM alun davies was contacted as well. Apparently trading standards were not replying to his caseworker, so i was told.

I said to the caseworker this country is a part of the riip off britain culture, and he basically smirked at me in denial.

As the old saying goes, the politicians really are not in touch with reality, and if they didn't think these kind of things go on, they do now. and only a fool would say everything in life is fine.

if they are not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem.

This is where the law comes into the equation. the law is not adequate enough to solve and prevent.

I pointed out to adam price, this is the problem. to take the trader to small clainms court, evidence is required full stop, and the aquire that eveidence has got to be via a professional report.
and that report can only be drwan up by an independent source such as a surveyor.
Between the cost of the report and the court application fee, amounted to £700. what the other situation was the law says you are entitled to claim for the amount that it costs to put the work right. So when £700 worth of bathroom tiling, bath, toilet and plumbing had to be removed = plus it would be unknown what further damage will be caused when the new tiles were hacked off. how much plastering is going to be required when they get removed. and since the evidence cannot be removed, how is it possible to estimate how muc it was going to cost until the dam tiles get removed. so you cannot go to a court with a vague figure that might cost £400 worth of plasteruing is required whwn it actually could cost more or less. the judge would have thrown it out.

so, the only avenue would have been to claim for the amount lost and forget about the replastering work since it was inevtable that the remaining plaster was going to be torn off. But the replastering cannot take place until after the court case.

johnsouthwales said...

So, to claim £700 damages, £700 would have to be spent. and the cost of the report is non claimable. See what the problem here is? spending £700 to claim back £700. that is counter productive. £700 would have been lost either way.
the next step would have been, £700 was out of the qeustion. there was no money available. and even if there was, say the trader was taken to court, £1400 would have been spent altogether and no bathroom. if the trader failed to appear, the judge would automatically award the case to the complainant. so how the hell do you receive the £700 if the trader simply doesn't show up? a new court case would have to set up in the event of applying to the judge for baillifs to recover the cost.

and the daft thing about it is, the trader admitted in a letter that his work wasn't up to standard. so when the judges orders the trader to repay the money, all he has to do is plead poverty and offer to give ten pounds a month for the next 6 years. and after one month, he stops paying so it'll have to be taken back to court again.. and on it goes.

is it worth taking that risk. the whole point is £700 would have to be spent to claim back the £700 lost in damages.. so £700 would have been lost somehow, and this is how rogue traders or call them what you want exist.

I'll give you an example of another situation, if someone bought a vehicle and something was wrong, all it costs in that situation is a £100 AA inspection report. but still someone has to pay for the evidence at the end of the day whatever the level and circumstance.

i asked the surveyor how the heck it costs over £500 plus vat for you to priduce a report. i said i don't want the whole house surveyed, just the bathroom. the fee would have been the same for one room. two rooms or the whole soddin house. i checked with another surveyor and that one operated the same flat fee system.
The national tilers association would have cost £850 and they don't do reports on plumbing, only the tiling.

the only people who can obtain justice are the one's that can afford justice. Leading to the principle that justice is not available to all

johnsouthwales said...

i said to christine gwyther something that she replied to in effect of she cannot believe that was the case. But i had to mention that possibility because it has happened in other situations.

what if they were holding out for the event of a death so they don't have to pay out the money?
It's a dark side i wouldn't have looked at, but just how many insurance and pension companies have held out or a compensation board? as in some cases the miners scandal a few years ago.

How deep does situations like these go.

So, who's been involved so far in this situation? just about everyone.

I asked jonathan edwards is it possible plaid have overlooked something or missed something from the time? I didn't have an answer to that.

And neither did i have an explaination or a reason from plaid and jonathan edwards why they cannot do anything after i supplied jonathan edwards the paperwork as he asked me to.

I asked plaid if they see what the problem was, where were the areas the system was. i did say even if they can't do anything, is this an example of how bad the system is.
If they wanted to ask me any questions, just feel free to ask, underline the concerns.

And i am not the only one. There was no need to cover up the system.
The shame of the nation, and they are all involved.

A normal person would have been appalled.

If i did a job for you and it went wrong, it is my responsibilty to correct that wrong. Not that i would have wanted anything to go wrong in the first place. If there was slight error, that would get fixed.

What these firms constructed were of sub standard work unfit for purpose.

Oh, and kevin madge knew about it too as he was contacted on the night the ambulance was called because of something the contractor did.

Anonymous said...

CALL IN THE FERRET OR WATCHDOG maybe they can help.

johnsouthwales said...

ah right, the itv programme the ferret. yes, they were contacted around november 2007 - no can do.
But.... i did have a curious email from the around may 2008, they asked me what was the name of the contractor who caused bad work. I was a bit curious why were they asking, so i reminded them of the name, and i put a question to them. why, has anything else happened? and they said yes.

They asked me if i was intersted in taking a part in the programme so i said yes of course.

I found out from them that the trader caused dmage and loss to other people, so it was a joint venture really. without me, they couldn't do the programme.

They came to do the recording and people were wondering why the ferret were around, and probably got to county hall by the day was over through the grapevine.

As time went by, there was no sign of the programme on the tv. usually they show a recording on the monday or 2 weeks after.. no sign. a month went by, no sign. strange..

Is it possible that someone 'pulled the plug' ? someone who didn't want the information to come out into the public domain? after all, around the time of the recording was the council complaint.

I asked the ferret presenter when they were in carmarthen a few months ago, if they knew why the programme was pulled? they couldn't answer. and neither did they when i posed the question on their facebook page.

as far as i know, one politician is a trustee of a tv channel, wonder who else has fingers in other people's pies..

Like i was saying, dark days.
If there was anything, i would have thought the ferret would have contacted saying sorry we can't show the programme because they lost the film, or not enough evidence or they can't make a case.

Since they had already been to the other properties before they came to me, everything else was in place

So why dump a programme when it also involved other people too?
That didn't make sense as all the cases were straight forward.

Like i was saying, trading standards were warned about the trader shortly before he caused further damage to someone else.

Anonymous said...

Not the funny handshake brigade is it??????