14th September 2005
Councillor Richard David Tate
25 Ennerdale Street
Hetton le Hole
Dear Councillor Tate,
Re: Investigation into Sunderland City Council / National Car Parks (NCP) unlawful activities
From press reports (Sunderland Echo 13th September 2005) I am led to believe that you are to undertake an internal investigation into Sunderland City Council's Decriminalised Parking Regime initiated under Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 3266 The Road Traffic (Permitted Parking Area and Special Parking Area) (City of Sunderland) Order 2002.
I would like to make available to either the committee or yourself the substantive evidence that I have regarding the malpractice and unlawful implementation of Sunderland City Council's Parking Regime including evidence of obtaining money / money orders by deception, false accounting and other such matters which may be construed as offences under the Theft (Amendment) Act 1996.
Also, evidence of the lack of scrutiny and control over the contracting agent, NCP, and inefficiencies and maladministration by Parking Services is available in order for you to have a full understanding of the background to the investigation that you will be conducting.
I understand that the Sunderland City Council DPE (Decriminalised Parking Enforcement) application simply gave the Secretary of State 'reassurances' that the necessary Traffic Regulation Orders and signs "were being reviewed and would be updated and amended where necessary in time for the DPE start date."
The SoS received confirmation that City of Sunderland said that any necessary revisions to the TRO's would "be made by the commencement date and that all parking restrictions would be signed in accordance with the TSRGD 1994."
I have substantial evidence that this was not the case with regard to the TROs and time dated photographic evidence of the incorrect signage.
I have also evidence that Sunderland City Council was made aware of this on numerous occasions.
It appears therefore that not only the motorists, residents, ratepayers and businesses have been misled, but also the Secretary of State.
I would be grateful therefore if you would confirm by return that you are to be responsible for the investigation and what the procedures and parameters, including timescale, of that investigation will be. I wish you also to detail what courses of action are available should the investigation reveal evidence of malpractice (misfeasance and malfeasance) and other criminal offences.
Will you be in the first instance asking Northumbria Police and the District Auditor to conduct a separate parallel investigation or will it be dependent on the outcome of your investigation?
I would be grateful if you would please confirm that you are agreeable to meeting either formally or informally in the first instance with a view to presenting or discussing evidence, or even giving you an overview of the situation, to either yourself or the investigating committee.
If this is not acceptable then I would require a full explanation as to why not?
Could you please also provide me with details of protocols and procedures required to surcharge the city's councillors and the necessary legislative authority to do so, as obviously none of the costs of correcting such unlawful actions should be borne by the city's ratepayers?
If you can also confirm whether it will be the full council that would be responsible in such an instance, surcharging, or whether it would simply be those councillors that approved the DPE scheme and failed to scrutinise and observe that the correct procedures had been adhered to resulting in such substantial sums being taken unlawfully from the city's motorists?
If it is the full council then can you confirm that as a councillor you may have a personal, prejudicial, pecuniary or preferential interest in the outcome or result of your own investigation should a surcharge be necessary and could therefore not, nor could any other councillor from Sunderland City Council, form part of any investigative committee?
Can you please confirm that the City's Legal Department is also under investigation and therefore will not be in a position to advise you on this matter and you will have to take outside, independent legal advice?
To date the District Auditor has been kept fully informed and Northumbria Police's Economic Crime Unit has been made aware of the situation that is developing. National and local press and media are keeping the residents and ratepayers of Sunderland informed.
I am sure that you appreciate the very serious nature of the position that Sunderland City Council finds itself in and will ensure that a full and thorough independent investigation is conducted with absolute transparency. On that note I believe it is necessary to keep as many interested parties fully informed and they have been copied into this communication. I have also copied in Member Services in order for them to make this letter available to all Sunderland City Councillors who may now need to take independent legal advice.
I look forward to your response.
cc. Member Services, Sunderland City Council
cc. Ged Fitzgerald, Chief Executive
cc. Bob Symonds, Leader of the Council
cc. Bob Rayner, City Solicitor
cc. Phil Barrett, Director of Development and Regeneration
cc. Councillor Peter Wood, Leader of the Opposition
cc. Councillor Lee Martin, Barnes Ward
cc. Christopher Booker, Sunday Telegraph
cc. Ross Smith, Newcastle Journal
cc. Tony Kearney, Northern Echo
cc. Jeremy Wicking, Sunderland Echo
cc. Tiffany Royce, Tyne Tees Television
cc. Rob Young, BBC Radio Newcastle
cc. Julie Howe, Sun FM
cc. Rik Martin, Century Radio
cc. Erica Moss, Public Finance Mgazine
cc. Ray Massey, Daily Mail
cc. Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
cc. Richard Littlejohn, The Sun
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
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