The Real State of Camden Council

In Camden's ruthless efforts to present a false image of the council as being ideal, democratic, innovative and worthy of various coveted awards and endorsements, the council has been misusing the ASBO and other Statutory powers to smear, intimidate, destroy and silence complainants and whistleblowers.

Proper use of ASBOs and injunctions to stop genuine and proven anti-social behaviour is one thing but misusing them to vengefully and wilfully victimise and silence complainants is another. Doing so amounts to gross abuse of power and perversion of the course of justice.

Residents of Camden have a right to bring issues of injustice and maladministration, by council officers, to the attention of the council and to expect the matter to be properly investigated and resolved fairly. We should not be subjected to endlessly torturous punishment for doing so.

Bringing problematic issues and situations to the attention of the council can actually be helpful to the council because such complaints present the council with a good opportunity to investigate and identify what needs to be done to put things right and to maintain/improve the quality of service. If the council had approached complaints in a positive, objective and honest manner then the image that the council has been trying to present would have a far better chance of becoming real instead of the pure fantasy that it is. The council would not then need to resort to wasting public resources and money in employing depraved tactics to annihilate complainants and whistleblowers.

The abuse of power by council officers has not been helped by the fact that the previous local Labour administration had been in power for at least 30 years, such that they had become very complacent and drunk with power. This had resulted in the local labour administration readily complying with the equally power-drunk senior council officers in treating Camden residents with total contempt and in going to extraordinary lengths to cover up wrong doings of council officers. The council was no longer interested in serving or helping the residents. Instead the officers and labour members focused on self-promotion and in scratching and watching over each other's backs. Complaints and requests were no longer considered according to the issues, relevant laws, council policy or guidelines but according to the influence the complainant or his/her friends have in the council. If you did not have friends or influence in the council then you were doomed to suffer your predicament and anguish endlessly in silence and total isolation-especially if you had complained about a council employee or a friend/associate of a council employee/member. Your cries for help will be ignored, at best, or silenced with smears, an ASBO, injunction and/or eviction order against you.

Using the council's lengthy Complaint Procedure to complain about injustices or maladministration is usually an agonising waste of time and energy. This is mainly due to the lack of integrity, fairness or objectivity in the so-called investigation of complaints. If the complainant manages to take his/her complaint as far as, the Central Complaint Unit, he/she is usually faced with having to endure the trauma of seeing the issues and evidence of the complaint unreasonably trivialised and/or dismissed by the Central Complaint unit without any genuine investigation.

If the complainant has not given up at this point and decides to take the matter further by referring it to the Ombudsman, he/she is in for a nasty shock and further frustration. The usual scenario is that council officers would withhold documents that support the complainant's argument and supply the ombudsman with untrue and defamatory allegations against the complainant. The usual outcome is that the Ombudsman, who appears to be incapable of questioning or disagreeing with any allegation from council officers - even blatant lies - will not uphold the complaint. Furthermore, once the ombudsman has made his misinformed decision, it becomes extremely difficulty for the complainant to win his/her case in court. This is because judges are extremely unlikely to disagree with the views of the Ombudsman. Judges always work on the assumption that the judgement of the ombudsman is always correct and trustworthy without realising that the decisions of the ombudsman can be wrong if they are based on untrue and misleading information supplied by council officers who are trying to cover up their wrong doings. In fact, Camden complainants are better off avoiding the dangerous trap of making complaints to the ombudsman for the above reasons. They are better off suffering in silence until they are able to secure adequate funds and help to bypass the ombudsman and take their chances in court.

With the Ombudsman, Councillors and the Central Complaint Unit failing to conduct genuine/accurate investigation or resolution of complaints, Camden council officers are not accountable to any one. They are free to do as they please which includes misusing ASBO, smears and injunctions to intimidate and silence any resident whose complaint may expose the wide spread corruption and abuse of power in council. The consequences of this reality is that Camden residents have no affordable means of getting issues of injustice or maladministration investigated or resolved fairly.

I am one of many complainants who have been at the receiving end of this devastating corruption and abuse of power. My 'crime' was that I was living next to a drug dealer and an active Labour supporter who had powerful friends in the local labour party, when I made my complaints. Another one of my neighbour has since bought at least two separate council properties and is currently living in a third one.

I had complained to the council because I naively believed that this was the lawful and sensible way for me to resolve persistent trespassing, assaults, verbal abuse, threats, harassment and damage to my property by my aggressive and bullying neighbours. At the time, I did not know that these neighbours had illicit connections in the council, which made them untouchable. I would not have made any complaint if I had known what my innocent children and I would be subjected to as a result.

The council has not only been routinely ignoring and dismissing my complaints but it had proceeded to endorse these neighbours' regular and devastating abuse of my children and I by:

  • Serving me with a Notice of Seeking Possession;
  • Applying for an injunction against me without interviewing me or giving me notice of the application such that it was impossible for me to present my case to the council or to the court;
  • Ignoring recommendations made by the ombudsman in my favour;
  • Ignoring my requests for the matter to be referred for mediation;
  • Refusing to monitor or resolve the matter according to any of the council procedures;
  • Ignoring and trivialising evidence from me;
  • Refusing to investigate many incidents that I have reported;
  • Discouraging my M.P., the police, ombudsman and the court from helping me by misrepresenting the facts and making defamatory and malicious allegations against me (i.e. that I, an obese and quiet woman in my forties, had assaulted a muscular, drug-dealing young man, in his twenties/thirties and his partner, also in her twenties/thirties, simultaneously);
  • Withholding alleged notes of all the meetings I had with housing officers regarding the assaults and harassment incidents.
  • My predicament has been so dreadful that it is extremely difficult for me to effectively describe or quantify the severity of the pain, suffering and damage that the council and my neighbours have inflicted on my young children over the past 5.5years. It is needless to say that this problem has not been resolved to date and that it is getting worse with my children and I existing in constant fear of and at the mercy and whims of our aggressive neighbours. The extremely oppressed, dangerous and unhealthy conditions we live in make us extremely vulnerable in every sense with our basic human rights being repeatedly unjustly violated by both the council and our neighbours.

    I have recently discovered that I am not the only Brookfield Park resident that the council has failed to protect from harassment and assault by a drug-dealing neighbour. The other suffering resident is also a woman whose council property was managed by the same former estate officer as mine in 2001. I understand that this former estate officer used to buy illegal drugs regularly from the perpetrator of the assault and harassment against this poor female resident. I recall observing and expressing my concerns, in 2001, that there appeared to be an inappropriate association between this estate officer and my drug-dealing neighbours, which was compromising the estate officer's ability to do her job fairly or properly. I recall that the council had automatically dismissed this concern as usual.

    Like with me, the council had also dismissed this female resident's complaints of assault and harassment by her bulky, drug-dealing male neighbour without conducting any genuine investigation and had accused her of instigating and carrying out the assault on him instead.

    The nature of this female resident's predicament has revealed to me the extent of my own difficulties and vulnerability in the borough. I am not only cursed by the fact that I had made complaints about the behaviour of neighbours with illicit connections in the council. I am also cursed because I am living in an area with a flourishing illegal drug- abusing/dealing culture in which at lease one of my estate officers and my drug dealing neighbour were illicitly involved.

    Other Camden residents who have been at the receiving end of council officer's wrath for asking questions or making complaints include John Mckenna, David Gower, Tracey Morgan, Mr Kucukoglu, Ferri Zaden, June McPherson, Faisa, Mrs Kokkinou, Bill Neenan. These are just the ones I know about. There are many, many more who have been successfully isolated and silenced by the council. The above complainants have one thing in common. Like me, they too had made complaints about the behaviour of people that are employees or associates/friends of employees/members of the council.

    Camden residents are not, by any means, the only individuals that had been vilified by senior council officers for daring to express dissatisfaction with council officers' peculiar habit of wilfully ignoring the law, council policies and procedures. In August 2006, Camden New Journal reported that Alison Lowton, the so-called Borough Solicitor, had accused a 'rookie' Lib-Dem Cllr, Author Graves, of being 'offensive' and 'inappropriate'. This was the response of Ms Lowton when Cllr Graves carried out his duty and pointed out the fact that council officers should be beating a 10-day deadline to answer queries and complaints from the public. When a member of the council is reprimanded, with such strong words, for reminding council officers to do their work according to the council's guidelines/policies, what chance have ordinary residents of Camden got of persuading council officers to deal with issues according to the law, council policies or procedures?

    The officers I have contacted in vain about his matter include Ms Pat Hayden, Mr Neil Litherland and Mr Peter Swingler.

    For further information about the real state of Camden council, please visit www.geocities.com/corruptcamdencouncil.

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