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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 32086
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi Alex, the first question that you answered for me was whether

Customer Question

Hi Alex,
the first question that you answered for me was whether Building Regulations were legally binding. This question is a continuation of the same situation.
The local council approved an application for 48 new houses in August 2013. In an effort to stop another almost identical planning application, I accused them of unprofessional, even illegal practices. Not surprisingly they reject the accusation and ask me to prove it.
I am confident that I can prove that they have failed to meet building regulations, because a top UK drainage expert has advised exactly that on an almost identical application 100 metres away.
The council has repeatedly refused to acknowledge that there is a drainage problem , which is caused by a high groundwater table, that is clearly shown on Environment Agency and BGS maps. We also have many pictures of flooding on the site. The only time that high groundwater was admitted was 5 months after approval in the developers own Construction Plan Form 'There is a known high water table at this development'
I want to know what offences have been committed by ignoring building regulations, refusing to disclose their plans, trying to mislead by denying that building regulations are binding, implementing plans that have not been notified to the planning committee, secretly approving plans to raise ground levels that have not been discussed with the EA etc.
It is clear from correspondence that there has been an intention to mislead and they appear to have deliberately misunderstood two Freedom of Information requests that I have submitted via the Chief Executive.
Please advise the correct legal terminology that I should use in my communications with Council executives.
Don Bird
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

I don't think there is any set legal terminology you need to worry about.

Alex Watts :

If you set out your position in a concise manner and make the points, I think that is all you need do

Alex Watts :

Then if it is refused you can take it to the Ombudsman as discussed.

Alex Watts :

But you are not a lawyer so not expected to write like one

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

JACUSTOMER-23k9p0ic- :

I have taken it to the Ombudsman, but I need to reply the Council's libellous threat. It is tempting to use words like collusion, conspiracy to mislead, dupe. I am trying to find meaningful, but non contentious words - do you have any suggestions?

Alex Watts : On what basis do they say its libel?
JACUSTOMER-23k9p0ic- :

They are saying that 'unprofessional and even illegal practices' is libellous, so they want proof. I think I can do that but do not want to inflame the situation further by the use of careless words. I emailed the planning committee before last weeks meeting and pointed out that the previous planning application had been forced through when they had reservations about flooding. Council officers promised that the planning committee would not be held responsible, but this was not reflected in the minutes and later the Council was quoted in the local paper as saying that the committee had approved the application - no mention of committee concerns.

Alex Watts : Indeed you don't want to make it worse so you need to be very careful indeed about what you say in future.