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Erewash Borough Council

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The revised version

After we were threatened by Rayden Engineering's solicitors, we slightly amended the original content to remove anything that could not be easily verified. We had no reason to suspect that anything we reported was untrue but nevertheless we amended the publication in good faith. Below is the amended version.

Our correspondent writes ...

The only way to tell this farcical story of non-existent democratic accountability in local government - a story which seriously erodes even the most basic of Human Rights - is to start at the beginning of an abridged version of an extremely lengthy saga of immorality, self-interest and negligence at the expense of many tax-paying families. Rayden site

We live in a high-risk Flood Zone 3 which has been eroded by heavy industrial expansion to such a degree that we are left with a tiny parcel of undeveloped land directly to the rear of 15 terraced homes and gardens. Not only did this small parcel of land afford us valuable flood protection, a number of mature trees on the land created a visual barrier between residential properties and the heavy industrial encroachment. (click the thumbnail image to see larger pictures of the site)

A small fraction of the land had previously been used as a fly-tip and, although Erewash Borough Council publicly pledged on their website to make offenders accountable, they were unable to remedy the situation even though they knew the perpetrator's name and address.

The tipped rubbish contained soiled mattresses, used nappies, asbestos and hypodermic needles but the council used the excuse that it was on private land and did not constitute a health hazard.

The whole stinking eyesore was left to rot for five years and four months until Erewash Borough Council suddenly declared this colonised mound to be a health hazard. In the interests of residential amenity they piled the debris into a huge mound ready for removal. All the residents saw this as an opportunity to improve the area by voluntarily clearing the remaining overgrowth with the intention of planting additional trees for the benefit of all home owners. We all worked on a voluntary basis and at our own cost to do this.

At this stage, Erewash Borough Council was heavily promoting 'Pride in the Community' through 'Greening our Communities' with a load of spiel about how valuable community efforts was towards improving the environment. We staked out and clearly marked the original boundaries of this land which appeared to be unregistered and without a traceable owner. So far so good!

The following day, when all the residents were conveniently at work, and at exactly the same time as Erewash Borough Council (EBC) was finally taking the debris away in the interests of residential amenity, our industrial neighbour, Rayden Engineering, totally ignored the residents' obvious efforts and was busily erecting a massive steel palisade fencing around the entire site. Apparently the fencing contractors had been booked for weeks! When we opened our garden gate, all we could see was bars. The new fencing was barely feet from the boundaries of our properties.

But this was just the beginning - much worse was to come!

My first contact with Mr Matthew Hall, EBC's enforcement officer, did not go down well as he kept insisting that the steel palisade prison was perfectly legal and did not require planning permission. Furthermore he said a developer could snatch any land that took his fancy, even if it wasn't his, and there was not a lot the council could do about it.

Oh really? I then had to point this officer of the council in the direction of his own employer's website which clearly stated that security fencing of this height required planning permission. After I insisted, he backtracked through five years of planning permissions  to double check. He had tried to claim it probably had an old planning permit, in which case we wouldn't have been notified. Eventually Mr Hall reluctantly agreed he would come out to look at the offending eyesore, if he could find the time.

Meanwhile, we had started receiving visits from the police commencing on the same day the illegal fencing was erected. There had apparently been accusations of criminal damage to the fencing and the police were threatening to arrest us if the fencing was harmed in any way. EBC's solution to the problem? Easy ... paint the fence green to make it invisible then none of the residents would notice it!

From our point of view, Rayden Engineering have never a considerate neighbour. Seven days a week, we get the constant deafening noise of grinding, shot blasting and pressure testing - to such a degree that normal conversation in our own gardens is impossible. Employees in the yard clamber on the metal structures and clearly invade the privacy that should be afforded to our gardens and homes. To add to this, our gardens are constantly coated with carbon dust and red oxide particles.

When I wrote to EBC Enforcement, I was hopeful that positive action would be taken to prevent the destruction of the trees. After all, the trees were a frequent habitat for bats and were supposedly protected by law. According to Local Authority guidelines, they had a statutory duty and an obligation to ensure that, if bats were present, any developer had to have a full and independent ecological survey carried out. Was any action taken in this instance? What do you think?

Barely two months after the steel palisade was erected, every tree, leaf and branch in the previously mature copse was annihilated. Total oblivion!

By this time, the police visits had intensified. House-to-house inquiries were regular and the accusations flew freely. We had apparently tried to shoot Richard Hayden of Rayden Engineering several times; there were several allegations of criminal damage; and the police visited our home so regularly that the neighbours had even given up twitching their curtains!

One night, we even found ourselves surrounded by the Rapid Response Firearms Unit. Fortunately, the officers quickly established that it was impossible to fire any shots from our property as the angle was all wrong. The police also declined our offer that they could search our property for firearms.

As I mentioned at the start, this land was a high-risk Flood Zone 3 porous floodplain and, when the trees were removed, an uneven hardcore hard-standing was laid over the previously porous floodplain. After months of painstaking slog, EBC finally forced Rayden Engineering to apply for retrospective planning permission, at last giving us a chance to have our say in "the democratic process" about matters that so seriously affected the living conditions in our own homes.

In due course, EBC planners turned down the retrospective planning application with the recommendation that enforcement action be taken to move the palisade back to its original position so that the land could be reinstated as flood plain.

A cause for celebration? Unfortunately not!! For although the development did not comply with Building Regulations, the Environment Agency positively objected to it as it was a high-risk flood zone.

As it turned out, EBC Enforcement had an entirely different agenda to EBC Planning. After we pestered the enforcement section to comply with their own planning department's recommendations, Matthew Hall then wrote to tell us that the fencing would simply be taken down to its legally-required height. And the hard standing was to remain as it was an environmental improvement. He claimed the Environment Agency had raised no objections to this plan. Oh Really?

The Environment Agency was contacted, they in turn contacted EBC Enforcement who, by return of post, had a sudden change of heart. The hard standing was to be removed after all.

After months of waiting in vain for this miraculous enforcement to proceed, I eventually lodged an official complaint about Enforcements' obvious inertia. Naturally, the complaint was glossed over as I had to realise that enforcement action was taken according to seriousness and the number of people affected by the planning breach. By this stage I had sent EBC five letters, accompanied by photographic evidence, showing how the hard standing became a water-logged mess after only a nominal rainfall. Of course the letters were all ignored. We had also visited our MP on several occasions, and our ward councillors just weren't interested.

At this stage we had tried everywhere and contacted everyone we could think of. No-one wanted to listen or help us at all. Then, right out of the blue, the police arrived with a Transit van and an escorting police car, dragged my husband out of bed, handcuffed him and transported him miles away (complete with escort), strip searched him, DNA tested him, finger printed and photographed him before starting to interview him at midnight when he had been awake for a total of 20 hours! The heinous crime to warrant this sort of treatment? Rayden Engineering had discovered a broken pipe in the yard a whole 46 days earlier.

By this time we had started logging all the police visits and complaints against us and I made an official complaint about police harassment which was subsequently investigated. A distinct pattern had emerged: Every time we scored a point the police visited us making a false allegation.

In the meantime, enforcement action had still not commenced.  Then the rains came. We watched with dismay and sinking hearts as the waterlogged puddles on the uneven, hardcore began to fill with excess run-off from higher parts of the yard. The water could not drain away as the hardcore was non-porous, nor could it follow the natural diversion away from our homes as all the natural drainage had been radically altered - precisely the outcome I had envisaged during the months I spent trying to convince Erewash Borough Council.

Although the River Erewash was on flood alert, it never actually breached its banks at the lowest point normally associated with flooding and none of the properties on the opposite side of the street - the side closest to the river - flooded at all. But we did! All 15 homes backing onto the yard - which EBC Enforcement had deemed to be of lower priority than other enforcement actions across the borough - flooded from the rear. The deep flood water remained trapped in our homes for more than 14 hours as it had nowhere to go. Its normal escape route had been radically altered.

Enforcement? EBC suddenly served enforcement notices seven days after we were flooded. A happy ending at last? I think not! The enforcement notices were suspended. Rayden Engineering immediately appealed against the refusal of planning permission.

I contacted the Secretary of State and the appeal was refused. Would the enforcement actions now become active again? I think not!! The Borough Council's explanation was that Rayden Engineering was considered, by them, to be the actual owner of the land so the enforcement notices were not valid.

As I and my neighbours sit in homes that are stripped down to bare bricks and concrete, some without any form of heating, others without even basic household appliances, still awaiting major flood damage repairs, Erewash Borough Council are apparently in negotiations with Rayden Engineering over the hard standing that we believe was directly responsible for more than 300,000 worth of property damage. They say they cannot discuss these negotiations with us as presumably it does not affect us!

As I wait for the luxury of carpets and wallpaper in my home once more, secure in the knowledge that one day's heavy rain could undo months of rebuilding work, the hard standing with no drainage in a high-risk Flood Zone 3 remains. And the police have reopened the case, presumably of national importance, over the alleged broken pipe on Rayden Engineering's land.

We are still waiting for someone to assess the damage that was caused but, it appears to me, none of the 15 affected families are considered to have any rights at all. I thought it was our human right to protect our homes; I thought it was our human right to have peaceful enjoyment of our possessions; I mistakenly thought it was our human right to be able to come home to the sanctuary of our own shelters without having to live like we have done, and will continue to do so for months. We are unable to protect our homes from future flooding through this ill-conceived development and we now look out onto a vast oasis of twisted scrap metal from every vantage point to the rear of our properties.

We venture through our garden gates to be greeted by invisible steel bars, we are constantly shrouded in red oxide dust and carbon particles (not a health hazard, of course) and we constantly have to shout to be heard above the almighty cacophony of noise generated by our neighbour. Yet we have no rights whatsoever to any form of protection for our basic living and home standards! If we had money and influential connections, I suppose something would have been done long ago. But it's not so. We are simply non-existent - we are nobodies. Yet, if we all withdrew our council taxes tomorrow, no doubt Erewash Borough Council would acknowledge our existence immediately. They would be down on us like a ton of bricks, or perhaps even non-drainable hardcore!

I will never understand why a developer continues to receive preferential treatment at the expense of, and to the detriment of, so many others. It's almost like he's dictating the modus operandi to the council.

DC, Ilkeston.

Editorial comment:

It's not the first time, and it certainly won't be the last time we hear of council officers falling over backwards for developers. It doesn't matter how black and white (totally devoid of grey areas) planning and building regulations are, it seems they can still be ignored or bent by officers of the local authority whenever it suits them, often supported by elected councillors who are, after all, mostly in it for the rich financial rewards they now get.

When people know you are campaigning against corruption, you hear many examples of instances where permissions cannot be granted until some official's palm is crossed with silver (or gold, or crinkly paper). And they get away with it because most councils are rotten to the core.

It's bad enough that we all fork out increasingly steeper council tax knowing most of it will be wasted, either on initiatives that are totally unnecessary or by employing idiots to do completely irrelevant jobs, all of whom benefit from the kind of gold-plated pension schemes the rest of us can't even dream about. But when greed enters the equation, too many of these useless bastards cannot resist the additional income from bribes. So the rule book goes by the board.

It's a sad indictment of the times we live in but the country is run by a bunch of crooks at Westminster and local authorities are their disciples.

Footnote: A quick check on Erewash's elected councillors shows 30 Conservative members, 18 Labour and 2 Lib-Dems. When Labour domination was badly hit in the last round of local elections, many thought it would be better with Tory-dominated councils. Well, I live in such a borough and there's little sign of any change now the Tories have control. It's just a different bunch of trough gobblers who don't want to know about the real issues, prefer to turn a blind eye to bureaucratic law-breaking, and won't do anything to get rid of the corruption.

I often wonder how other boroughs fared after the Tories took control and I wonder if David Cameron, with his declared intention to seek open and transparent government, will order his troops at Erewash to investigate this scandal. Somehow, I doubt it.

But if you feel the Erewash borough councillors should be doing more you can download the full list of the councillors' names and contact details by clicking here and then you can bombard them with emails.


Since 2006, our correspondent has been completing dust and noise diaries for EBC's Environmental Health Department but she got no results.

Dust pollution

Three months ago, EBC finally came to their house with dust monitoring equipment comprising six white tiles and some Vaseline!! The tiles were placed at various points around the garden and were left for one month.

For reasons unexplained by EBC, the worst tile samples were never sent off for analysis - only the three with lesser deposits.

The subsequent report specifically stated that it was not a QUANTATIVE analysis but was simply to identify the claimed pollutants. The Report identified fibreglass particles in concentrated amounts and microscopic shards of metal - consistent with hot metal work.

EBC stated that residents should expect this type of pollution as they lived in an industrial area. As a result, they would be taking no further action. However, the black deposits literally coat the windows and doors and find their way into the house.

So why were the tiles with the heaviest pollution not sent for analysis?

Noise pollution

The type of processes Rayden use are identified by HSE research as reaching 135 decibels. Rayden's claim their noise levels are 'certainly not the levels of 135 decibels' that the HSE claim but refuse to say what testing equipment they use and how often they monitor sound levels.

Our correspondents have two years of video evidence showing the problems they are subjected to. Conversation in the garden is virtually impossible and, in summer, they are unable to venture outside, sit in the garden, or even open the windows for ventilation. The noise permeates every room of the house even with all the windows and doors battened shut! The film also shows Portacabins stacked two high lined up in front of our correspondent's garden. Hardly actions intended to help matters.

Some while ago, noise monitoring equipment was installed by EBC and was left in-situ for one week. From the moment it was set up, until the time it was removed, there was absolutely no noise from the yard! Now there's a strange coincidence.

After nearly 3 years of pursuing justice, our correspondents simply video everything and put it on their web site in the hope others will realise the truth behind so-called "democracy" in modern day Britain.

Information sought from the Health and Safety Executive

We have emailed the HSE helpline asking them to tell us the acceptable noise levels for such a process. We have also asked how H & S legislation is applied to neighbouring residential premises.

A reply was emailed to us on 14th March by Sara of the National Britannia Group - the company that operates the helpline for HSE.

Basically it says there are prescribed noise limits for workplaces but the regulations do not extend to neighbouring residential properties. Enforcement does not therefore fall within the remit of the Health and Safety Executive - it is the responsibility of the Environmental Health department of the local authority, in this case Erewash Borough Council.

So the net result is that the residents' health and safety is not a matter for the Health and Safety Executive, and the Environmental Health department of Erewash Borough Council is clearly not interested.

It makes you wonder why we have any health and safety legislation in the first place!

Readers' Comments

JH, Long Eaton writes:

I regularly write letters to the editor of the Long Eaton Advertiser giving the Council some stick. Why? Because they are a load of tossers.

Ivan Porteous, Billingham writes:

I would like to offer an opinion on the use of Sound Monitoring Equipment set up by Local Councils. We had this equipment installed and, whilst the council officer was installing it, he was having to shout into the microphone. He played back the recording and it was barely audible. He explained that it was the poor quality of the speaker and a true level would be found back at their lab. Load of crap! It had been calibrated at such a low level it would not have picked up the sound of a herd of elephants going through my garden.
We had exactly the same scenario as mentioned in this article, no noise for 9 days. I was contacted on the Friday morning by the council officer who came and took the equipment away. That evening the noise problem was at its worst levels ever. That is not a coincidence. People had been informed that noise monitoring equipment was in place at my property. They keep advising that it can be reinstalled, but I think they may have a 3 strikes and you're out rule, i.e. after 3 attempts to record noise levels if nothing is recorded, end of complaint.
Absolutely bent system.

Editorial Comment:

Thanks for this information, Ivan. Local authorities tend to pursue their own agenda. The only solution is to have honest elected councillors who are prepared to fight corruption ... and they are as rare as rocking horse shit!

Bridie, Ilkeston writes:

I would like for you to bother getting two sides of the story. You will ignore this, I know, however I am stunned that your biased opinion would try to discredit people I know without you even trying to get their side of the story. Carry on and you will be open to all manner of legal issues. Even Jeremy Kyle and the chavs he has on daily have the decency to at least listen to both sides of an argument before they decide who the liars are. Food for thought? Maybe....

Editorial Comment:

Bridie of Ilkeston actually gave us a false Yahoo email address so our automated reply bounced back. Normally, we would not publish comments from anyone who supplied false contact information but we felt it was important to state our position on this matter.
People generally contact us when they have discovered that there really is no justice in the accepted channels. We then give them an opportunity to state their case and/or vent their feelings, and this often acts as a warning to other potential victims. In all cases, our correspondents have documented evidence of the wrongdoings against them and this would be produced in any resulting legal action.
If we were to approach the companies, government departments, local councils, etc, for their side of the story, we know exactly what would happen. They would deny it, either personally or through their trained liars. But, if the people our correspondents accuse think they have been wrongly accused, they have the right to present their facts to us. If they can prove they have a case, we will review any content we have published. In practice, only two people have approached us. One was a salesman who was caught up in the case purely because he happened to work for the company at that time; the other was a woman who moved to a different company and wanted to cover up her past. The fact is that most wrongdoers seem to prefer to maintain a low profile, presumably hoping the matter will blow over in due course.

DC, Ilkeston writes:

Dear Bridie of the false ID, I would be most interested in reading the other side of the story you are obviously more than well aware of, complete of course with well documented evidence (Reports, letters, e-mails, photographs and video footage) in support of your contentions to enable us all to decide who the REAL liars are after evaluating this so far unforthcoming evidence.
Presumably you do have evidence to support your assertions? Even though you lack the conviction of your claims to provide your real ID which immediately poses the question over what other information you have supplied which is also false! False name perhaps? The hollow legal threats certainly sound familiar. I suspect the grammatical errors are also a deliberate ploy to mask your real identity, either that or you have watched too much chav television lately!
It is hard to discredit someone whose own actions discredit themselves - not the truthful and honest reporting of those actions based upon a plethora of well documented evidence. There is only ONE liar in this saga - not one with a false ID by any chance is it?? So submit your evidence in support of your contentions "Bridie". I for one cannot wait to see it!

XT, Derbyshire writes:

I also had sound monitoring equipment fitted and for two weeks very little work was carried out on early mornings or outside. Within hours of it being removed, it was back to normal. Make your own assumptions but I was not impressed that my council tax was being wasted in such a way and as for pollution ....

L Knowles, Ilkeston writes:

I was just wondering, because of the many instances of visits by the police every time you took a step, if you could find out whether both the officer in charge and the proprietor of Rayden Eng'g are both masons. It may explain a few things for us all

Editorial Comment:

We wondered the same and no doubt there's good reason to suspect there might be Masonic membership involved. But what we do know for certain is that several primary players are members of the same Irish-based associations so possibly this influenced the decisions made by people in authority to act in a very unprofessional manner strictly unbecoming of their position. We also know that when it came to repaying the favours, Mr Rayden dropped his friends right in the brown stuff when he filed his papers in the Royal Courts of Justice. But this will all come into the open very shortly

Debora Brown, Derby writes:

Law makers, law breakers!  EBC have placed compulsory purchase orders, ruined livelihoods. 
Me I grassed on nonces...yes i mean sex offenders and was criminalised and made homeless.  Guess what? Them nonces have friends in high places.  I was subjected to verbal and physical abuse and harassed and humiliated by the police, not to mention being accused of being a liar. 
One of the people i accused has friends in the police, council, jc, housing and cab.  Erewash housing provided damning information about myself along with the finance department.  Broke data protection, denied me my human rights and sent me back to live near the people i grassed on.  Now all i am is a grass and a coward. 
Guess what? The local councillor said that it leaves a bit of a bad taste in his mouth...but it had to be done to me.  He's a friend of one of those nonces.  I could tell you more about those labour councillors and the cowardly behaviour.  I'm prepared to name and shame and as for social services!!!  They most certainly let the dogs out on me...bailiffs, the lot.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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