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2:56pm Friday 27th April 2012 in Letters
Sir, – The recent ruling by the Ombudsman, justifying the claim of maladministration brought by Action 4 Refusal over Bagby Airfield, needs some further examination.
The decision to do this was not taken lightly by A4R. Hambleton District Council has been generally uncooperative with A4R. Questions were not answered or were brushed aside, information was not forthcoming, and e-mails and phone calls were not answered.
Only in the last 18 months or so has HDC seen fit to work with A4R in a professional capacity, possibly because of the growing realisation that we were not going to go away, and that we had the full support of by the elected members.
Before the Ombudsman will consider a complaint of maladministration, that complaint must be put to the party concerned, in this case HDC. The complaint was handled by Phil Morton (currently acting chief executive) on behalf of HDC. One would have thought that with a case of such complexity and longevity, Mr Morton would have realised that there must have been a case to answer at some level, and the best way to forestall any further action was to agree to address the problems stated. Not a bit of it. Mr Morton and HDC judged that there was not a case to answer. A view clearly not shared by the Ombudsman who judged there to be a ”serious lack of planning control” and has recommended a number of punitive measures.
This raises a number of questions. HDC have recently parted company with their chief executive, Mr Simpson. His acting replacement, Mr Morton, in this matter has had his professional judgment called into question.
The other area to be considered is what corrective actions HDC will take as a result of the Ombudsman’s report. Will heads role? Certainly in the commercial world one would expect tough remedies, but in the rarefied air of local government and the public sector will we instead just see a response along the lines of “..lessons have been learned and appropriate actions will be taken”. I hope not.
Incredibly, HDC will not comment on the Ombudsman’s report until after their meeting in June. Does the public not deserve an immediate response? Is this yet another example of the distain in which HDC holds residents?
BOB CHAPMAN Bagby, Thirsk
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