25 August 2017

Zero tolerance - not the best approach.


A contact sent the above letter to Mr Mustard. Although it purports to be a standard letter Mr Mustard has chosen to anonymize it to protect the innocent.

Mr Mustard thinks that these letters are being sent to anyone who has been granted planning permission or permitted development consent but you dear reader can confirm that. He gleans this from 'Our records indicate'.

The letter is addressed to the owner/occupier. If you are going to threaten someone with damages and expenses the least you can do is to use their name Barnet Council / Capita / Re:. 

This is what the appropriate section of the Act says

Mr Mustard doesn't know the answer but the heading is about excavations, or other works, to land. Works to buildings, are they within the compass of this section?*

Mr Mustard thinks that as a first approach to a previously law abiding resident this is completely the wrong approach. The thrust of the letter should be that the council are sure that residents will want to ask their builder to be careful on the foot way and that the council would regret having to try and hold the land owner (if you have a leasehold property can you send the council to the freeholder instead?) responsible. Isn't it going to be the case that the owner will just be able to say that they haven't carried out any works to the land or building and so the council should pursue the builder in any event as the person responsible, if anyone, for any damage?

Before you have an extension or a loft built Mr Mustard advises you to take photographs and video of the pavement for 50m in both directions from your property to show the probably hideous state that the pavement is already in.

That looks like nonsense about having to put skips on the highway (kerching for the council who have large fees for that) as the wheels of the skip lorry don't necessarily have to go on the pavement in order to lift a skip in or out or a load spreader plate could be used to protect the highway.

Do other boroughs take such a confrontational stance before you've even instructed a builder?

The following document takes you to the Environment committee meeting at which this matter was discussed.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

* A general legal definition does have land as including buildings but there may be case law on this?

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr M,

    I, too, received a more-or-less identical letter in August, though in my case it was addressed to me personally, and bore the reference number of an application for building regulations consent; it arrived some six weeks after my initial application, and curiously it was dated the day before the completion certificate was issued, and actually arrived the day after!

    I was very miffed:

    1) I object very strongly to the threatening tone.

    2) Was the letter sent by Barnet Council, or by a private limited company (“Re”)? It’s not clear. If I am to be threatened in this way, I’d rather know by whom.

    3) No doubt the cost of these letters is borne by the Council Tax payers one way or another, and I object to the waste of money involved in trying to shut the stable door long after the horse has bolted.

    4) The sentence “Should it be noted at such time that damage to the footway has occurred over the course of the works, the Highway Authority may repair any damage and recover any expenses incurred from the owner of the land or the person responsible for the damage.” carries with it the presumption of guilt. Since when have property owners been presumed to be responsible for any damage to the pavement outside their properties?

    5) In my street there has been a long-running battle between the residents and the Council about the bad state of repair of the pavements at one end of the street, and the failure of the Council to make good the damage. So it’s one rule for the resident, and another for the Council itself is it ...?

    6) Furthermore the pavement referred to above is in a poor state of repair because vehicles are forced to drive over it in order to pass large delivery lorries parked - and we are told by the Council parked perfectly legally - at the opposite side of a very narrow street, a situation brought about by the failure of the Council to ban the parking of delivery lorries on this completely unsuitable side street in the first place.

    Keep up the good work. Much appreciated!

    Yours etc.,

    A Barnet Resident


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.