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Introduction – Management techniques and toxic workplaces.

Predicting Human Performance

Driving a workforce against performance targets can be a risky but rewarding affair but how can we gage success with reasonable confidenceand equip people to succeed? 

According to one model attributed to H. Sanford known as the challenge and support model, the factors that determine human performance over time are the scale of the challenge, and the amount (and type) of support available to achieve the task.

Growth

Performance outcomes are predictable.  Of the four likely outcomes to any task predicted by the challenge support model, only one scenario leads to complete success and truly great performance.  This is called Growth.

Death

Another scenario, euphemistically called Death, predicts breakdown and failure.  Death is the consequence of too much challenge coupled with too little support.  In the workplace, death is literally the end of the line for individual workers and can lead to poor health for many others. 

In Death, stress, and burnout have regularly exceeded tolerable levels and have impacted on the person or persons assigned the task with predictable outcomes such as a high staff turnover, the potential actual death of a worker, and subsequent losses for the employer.

Team Work

According to Belbin, good management practice is to support people by building well developed teams.  A well developed team comprises people with various personality traits in enough abundance to sustain the activity and provide support for individual workers.

Positive Team Skills

Belbin names the six positive characteristics of team workers.  Both the challenge and support model and Belbin’s approach have developed into defacto standards in leadership and management and in combination they form the mainstay of modern leadership training.

Management Practice

Any workforce or team usually has an appointed manager, in a hierarchy of managers,  He or she is someone who not only drives the task but who’s role it is to maintain a productivity and performance.

Job Satisfaction

Truly great managers learn to build teams and balance the level of challenge and support in such a way as to sustain a steady rise in growth.  Happiness and pride in the product provide a degree of satisfaction.

Incentives

Work (used to be) incentivised in order to recruit and retain skills,  From the workforce, managers were selected and trained to understand not only their job, but the additional skill and workplace psychology needed to manage people.  The entire workforce benefited in the long term by development opportunities which included training, promotions and social improvement which secured the future of families.  

Fairness

Truly great management is a mindset.  It should be a satisfying experience for managers and workers alike. 

It takes qualities such as empathy to bond people into teams, and to a job, and loyalty to retain them.  Management is about supporting people and therefore depends on a particular mindset which in turn comes out in the selection process.

Alternative Management Styles

Managers nurtured in structured management systems described above and people who come to work expecting to be treated fairly and have satisfying and rewarding jobs will both struggle mentally in alternative management systems because of their different characteristics,  breifly one such alternative paradigm sustains growth by replacing burnt out workers from a steady supply of fresh, cheap labour who are disposable.  In this unacceptable approach, the mindset required to manage people will disregard the human factors evidenced by the Challenge \ support model and Belbin Team skills and is more likely to mis-use them to get what they want.  for the toxic mindset, satisfaction is something they crave – for themselves.  This mindset brings different team skills into play. 

Toxic management is the result of employing and idolising people who’s character traits align with the dark triad of behaviours and who don’t care for people – just results. 

In the resulting tyranny, according to the late Dr Tim Field, anything goes as long as management gets what it wants.  For example when a toxic boss doesn’t get what he or she wants – he or she will circumvent any agreed management process or contract and exploit fear backed up by increasing the level of challenge and removing support.  According to Field, alternative management styles have a number of repeatable and highly offensive processes aimed at getting what the toxic boss wants.  

This alternative management practice is prevalent, both in the workforce and the community.   

What Works Wellbeing says its goal is to improve, and save, lives through better policy and practice for wellbeing.

A good starting point would be the policy that allows alternative management approaches to flourish.  What currently  prevents wellbeing from being realised is that power, in the form of budget and control is often in the hands of toxic managers and the results are hidden.  No problem for a toxic mindset. 

In the next article we will be outlining the criteria for fair management policy that supports wellbeing at work.


Stuart Dixon



Notes about Attitude to Minorities and Tyranny of the Majority

Attitude toward minorities by public servants.

 
While I was challenging the attitude of a planning authority toward a man struggling against malicious neighbours backed by overwhelming bureaucracy I came across a senior civil servant in power who sat on his hands when I appealed to him for help.  We were talking about rigidly sticking to rules that were clearly disadvantaging my friend and how to change that in the UK planning System when he simply invalidated my friends rights because he is in a minority – “planning won’t change just for you – you’re in a minority.”  I realise now why I felt so uneasy about this.  Our rights were being trampled over as a justification for doing nothing to help.  I persevered and later joined in with a public consultation on the topic which was more fruitful.   See this link for a definition of what a  Tyranny of the Majority is.  I see this reflected in every day life;  “There are only 55000 of us, we will never get a petition through parliament (which needs 100,000 signatures) etc”.  A further concern I have is that my friend had his planning application refused by this local planning authority on the grounds that one neighbour might object to his proposal despite no objection.  I conclude my friend is being punished by a tyrannical organisation who will go to any length to smite him without a fair trial on the say so of a bogus complainer.  


A letter to Gravesham Recycling Centre

Dear Colleagues,

I spoke to several of you today and wanted you to have a complete view of why I said what I said.  

Firstly I don’t ask for much – as a 65 Year old veteran of more than one nasty little armed conflict, I certainly don’t want to go into conflict with you, when I turn up to dispose of my rubbish. 

As a responsible citizen with more rubbish than I could handle; (five heavy waterlogged ex-comfy chairs, a waterlogged and filthy mattress and divan base, and a door,)  I reviewed the safest and most economical way to dispose of them and hired a trailer large enough to do the job in the smallest number of trips.  Keeping my carbon footprint down (A point in my favour yes?)  as well as making it easy for myself after the physical wear and tear of military service.

When I loaded the trailer I was pleased.  My own trailer was much smaller and using it would been much more difficult.  Two days instead of half a day.  

To get to the rear of my house and pick up, I had to negotiate an alleyway.  The photo’s below show a couple of skip loads of mixed and bulky household waste which had been fly tipped on what is council property.  This has been spoiling our community for several years.  I first complained in 2016.  See here.

Some of this is newly dumped and some has been there for years. 



Some people who lived here before us tell me you (the council) regularly cleaned this area until a few years ago.   

From our point of view, the right place for rubbish is in the recycling system.  As you can see it doesn’t get there by itself and if you (the council) don’t move it, who will?  Which is why I think the following is not acceptable. 

It was colleague A who said “you can’t bring that in here – your trailers too large”.  Beg pardon?  I sized it deliberately from available resources.  8′ Long, 4′ wide and 4’6″‘ High.  This allowed me to make two runs, One more than I would have liked (the latter with only an armchair and a door.)

When colleague B came over to reinforce this message, I didn’t take kindly to also being told to remove the trailer off the site and load the mattress into my car and bring it back.  Couldn’t see the point of that.  

Thanks for the advice but I hired the trailer to keep my vehicle clean.  I was naturally disappointed to learn that the trailer was too big (IMHO it wasn’t big enough, but it was easily handled by one person.)  That didn’t make sense.  I didn’t see any notices about trailer sizes on the perimeter fence or gate.  I was really disappointed when colleague A said I couldn’t come back in with the second load.

Does Size Really Matter?

Thankfully colleague C was a bit more helpful.  In the spirit of Christmas he “allowed” me to unload and make the second trip. 

What I didn’t say was this:  When our back streets and estates are covered in rubbish do you honestly think it’s appropriate to give people grief for bringing stuff in, in a marginally over-sized trailer?  We really need to be setting an example and getting waste into the recycling system efficiently and effectively.

Notes for Gravesham BC and Kent CC

Your re-cycling policy is failing.  People are living in among other peoples rubbish.  Your staff need to be able recognise and encourage responsible and ethical waste re-cycling.  Its that or the street or countryside.   Not acceptable.

Merry Christmas

Preserving the Heritage of Licensed Amateur Radio – The Need for Change and Emerging Support Services

About the Article


The licensed radio amateur whose mast and antenna appear in this photograph is obviously enjoying something not available to others in almost identical properties and localities in the same county, despite “inclusive” government policy. 

This short article is written by the campaign manager of the Armando Martins Campaign.  During the campaign the author had to come from a position of little or no knowledge, to one of being able to challenge policies that were affecting Martins – and closing him down.  Its not just him.  Some of the things found to be affecting Martins actually affect all radio amateurs and citizens of the UK. 

Because each of the organisations Radio Amateurs have to deal with, has its own views about what Amateur Radio is, this isn’t just a local issue. 

Planning in UK drives the performance of amateur radio equipment for example, but planning law is vague. 

How do licensed radio amateurs expect planning officers or council workers ever to understand that properly constructed antennas have no harmful effect whatsoever and compared to mobile phone masts their footprint is quite small – made for the back garden? Or also, that they actually support a healthy lifestyle, which is an aim both of planning policy and the NHS?  Fortunately most neighbours get the point – but some don’t.  

Fairness in Planning 

Planners have views, council officials have views, industry has views, neighbours have views.  National society’s have views.  If all of these views were aligned with those of the end user and the organisation’s supporting them them the whole thing would be a lot less Fuzzy.  That’s why we are calling for Fairness in Planning.

Our FAQ

To aid this understanding we initially wrote a list of Frequently Asked Questions.  See here.

Heritage

The point is, planners talk about heritage but have no idea that Amateur Radio is actually a part of that heritage.   This is a risk, because right now, were the telecommunications and lighting industry to realise they were trashing an international and national heritage, it might be a whole lot easier to tackle the issues arising, such as that of Noise Pollution on Medium wave and HF Radio.  Nobody seems to see this for the threat it is to our heritage.  This is a more of a risk to this heritage than people know because of the potential loss of our use of the ionosphere to human audio traffic and being forced into machine modes.  To protect this needs simple communications between all parties.  Adopting the same view would be simpler in theory to get simple answers to questions like “Why does my £1300 transceiver perform so badly?”  Or what’s that buzzing noise drowning out Capital Gold on 1548AM?” these are global questions which require global action to abate.  Individuals raising complaints often are fobbed off or face massive bureaucracy, ending up losing locally the facility pioneered by our ancestors which is why an organised approach is so important.  (“Amateur radio?  its not all its cracked up to be”.)

As Licensed Radio Amateurs who believe in the traditions of self training and supporting learning, the board of the Armando Martins Campaign has seen too many people put off amateur radio and hiding their activities from destructive people and people who frankly should know better.  This is a waste of everyone’s time:  The City Fathers, the RSGB instructors and those amateurs who encourage people into the hobby and work to retain them.  

The article that follows is therefore aimed to align thinking while opening up a support group for people whose hobby may become blighted as a result of rumours, myths and misinformation circulating among neighbours and public servants. 

Legacy

In International Amateur Radio there is a legacy, which has grown from over a hundred years of developing radio communications between global communities. 

The hobby is practised by a worldwide community of makers, scientists and technicians which began to develop in the late 19th century. 

Through two world wars, and lots of small wars in between, the worldwide community has developed a self-training ethos which has sustained and developed communications on the battlefield. 

It continues to support people in emergencies. 

It brings trainees into industry via a well-developed training medium. 

It brings the Space Programme into classrooms, and has been at the forefront of the satellite industry since its conception.

In the tradition of its community, today, Licensed Radio Amateurs continue to contribute to the development of Wireless Communications as they have done in many ways which include the development of a 21st Century training syllabus, the development of new modes of communication and digital hardware and software. 

As a hobby it contributes to health and well being by providing stimulation for youth and elderly people, bringing communities and like-minded people together through activities.  This is a legacy worth preserving, only one of many communities that open to us, and something to be proud of and celebrate.

Change

Amateur Radio in an Emergency

As the world changes, Amateur Radio changes.  What’s trending in the world affects it, both in positive and negative ways, these present both opportunities and threats.  Trends like social media, the internet, industrial pollution of the radio spectrum by eager but careless telecommunications operators and the industrial use of technology such as solar energy and lighting products.  It is affected both by austerity and prosperity but it isn’t just for rich people.  Its part of our personal development – a way of lifting people out of low skilled jobs by self training.   

The impact of change and how it is managed

Some countries have robust policy within their national society that enable them to counter the negative impact of change before they cause real issues (or harm) for people.  As more information becomes available, it becomes easier to change long term problems. The most worrying trends are the deafening noise pollution smothering the communications medium and drowning out signals on the HF bands.  Lack of visible activity on the amateur radio frequencies.  Commercial gazumping of frequencies,  Licensed radio amateurs being closed down or driven underground by anti-social behaviour, nightmare neighbours and flawed planning policy.  As trends emerge there are gaps in the support available.

Filling the Gap in Support

Recently the Armando Martins Campaign sprang up raising 43000 signatures to deal with the impact of anti-social behaviour.  The House of Commons Petition to Exempt Amateur Radio Aerials from Planning Permission wants to see the whole planning issue simplified.  Both noted that UK planning authorities et al, can completely fail radio amateurs.  Now a combined approach is being taken. 

Service Development

The RSGB provides services for its members, sadly it has not yet provided any for those hit by anti-social behaviour and/or who can’t get permission to erect an antenna because of it.  RSGB services are good, but they stick to what they know best. 

To fill the gap a new service is therefore being developed independently, as any support group would for people affected by what is essentially anti-social behaviour – a criminal issue.  Initially the group will be known as the Planning Policy and Neighbour Relations Support Group (Amateur Radio UK) and will work alongside existing services to tackle cases where misuse and abuse are at issue. 

It will also help people whose lives are blighted by similar issues outside of amateur radio as we see a common problem affecting almost anyone who owns or rents a home and just wants to get on with their lives.  The service is currently providing support for four cases where Amateur Radio is being driven underground by the attitude of nightmare neighbours and council workers.  It has a live Facebook page for the purpose of communications.

Stuart Dixon

Under Attack? What can I do?

Background

The 2018 annual report for the Armando Martins Campaign touched on the likelihood of neighbours going on the attack by describing the factors involved.  Although it focused on a narrow part of the community, at large the report found the likelihood of a neighbour or work colleague singling a person for special treatment is high enough to cause concern.  There are implications for the health and welfare of whole communities.  How authorities respond to this behaviour is another concern.  Victims are treated like dreamers.  The amount of money at stake for both the victims and the authorities, were they to deal with nightmare neighbours properly, is high enough to have an impact on what the public (and mental health) services can deliver. 

The problems nightmare neighbours cause is largely due to toxic minded people and these can be found anywhere, in schools, the neighbourhood or in a workplace mingling with ordinary citizens.  The understanding of toxic minds is not developed sufficiently enough for people in positions of responsibility to understand and act upon appropriately.

For the purpose of this article therefore,  bullying and intimidation is viewed as a process and focus is given to the points in the process where the victim has opportunities to take proportional countermeasures.  These are summarised toward the end of the article.  The main aim is to discuss the impact on the victim and the role of the perpetrator in conflict situations for the purpose of enabling the victim to decide what can help them. 

WARNING:  This article describes actions taken by victims of bullying when the police or authorities didn’t react.  As far as the author knows he was right in taking those actions and they were proportional and appropriate.  They were consistent with public safety training he received while in the NHS.  See also here  for an article on the topic of what to do in the event of an attack.  You should always report crime to the police.  Just because your local community safety unit don’t respond, bullying is nonetheless a crime and never acceptable.

The rules of Occasional Conflict

The occasional conflict between an individual human being and an acquaintance, neighbour or work colleague can be expected.  It’s a normal part of daily life.  Normally any bad feelings generated are easy to disperse by an apology, a favour, a few drinks, and/or a hand shake.   Recovery is quite easy to achieve this way and these are the only countermeasures needed in normal situations.  The normal rules of society are that regardless of any action by the victim that may have sparked a situation, to continue it, with another wrong, won’t make it right.  People make mistakes or act criminally and the fair way to deal with them is for them to face a fair trial, own up, pay up and apologise.  The right to a fair trial is enshrined in the human rights act.

Continuing Conflict

Abnormally, if both parties don’t recover, something might be blocking that and it could turn into a continuing and persistent conflict.  Often passed off as normal behaviour – various types of conflict exist.  These are often explained away as spats, grudges or vendetta.  In all of these, one of the parties will go on to become victimised or punished, usually outside the rule of law, by the assailant(s).  Assailants have various motives and techniques for achieving their ultimate aim – to score a hit for their own pleasure by harming the victim.  Usually they disguise this as normal behaviour.

In the worst case scenario in any type of conflict, depending on the mindset of the perpetrator, the victim can face the ultimate price – death.  Kenneth Noye famously killed his victim, 
Stephen Cameron, in a road rage incident (technically a spat).  This happened near Swanley in Kent in 1996 while Noye was out on licence from prison.

Not all Injuries are Visible

Many people become victims of the extreme, abnormal and inappropriate behaviour of their assailants.  Not all injuries are visible.  For example Stalking, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), is one form of  extreme behaviour that a victim may encounter.  They say that stalking can be triggered by the perception of the perpetrator, that the victim has somehow treated them badly or unfairly.

Unwanted Behaviour

In stalking, therefore the assailant is responding by disrupting the victims life, coercing them with unwanted behaviour that the victim(s) will struggle to cope with.  According to the RCP between 20% and 40% of victims experience symptoms of mental disorder as a result of being stalked.

How do you Respond to that?

According to one victim of bullying, this manifest in prolonged internal mental conflict about the situation that developed between him and a neighbour and how to deal with it.  

Such a mental state is a very useful tool in the hands of a bullying manager or work colleague.  Once the victim begins to suffer, sooner or later, depending on his or her own characteristics, he or she will eventually become unfit for work.  This is due partly because of sleeplessness and partly because of mental exhaustion.  Such is the level of harm caused by this trauma, it is likely to lead to a mental breakdown and for some victims, suicide. 

Recovery is a specialist job and scarce health resources mean that the victim can be easily made unfit for work and without support from colleagues.  At work, when their performance dips they become vulnerable targets for unlawful dismissal (which occurs despite the best occupational health and anti bullying policy.)   Returning to work if the situation has not been dealt with, would simply put the victim back in harms way.  Even if the conflict is manifest in the community, the victim is at risk from poor work performance.

Deliberately Engineered Toxic Situations

All of the above become useful weapons to a toxic mindset and they will very quickly take advantage of any mistake or action by the victim that can be used to deliberately engineer a toxic situation.  This will provide the assailant with what they want from it – gratification. 

Who is in the driving seat?

The characteristics of toxic mindsets are discussed elsewhere but if your occasional conflict at work or at home has developed into a continuing conflict with unwanted behaviour, then it is not the victim, but the colleague or neighbour turned assailant or perpetrator who is driving it.

Countermeasures

The following plan was used successfully to counter a sadistic neighbour who perpetrated over sixty attacking incidents in 25 years against one of his neighbours:

  • Realise somebody is driving the situation.  One victim describes the relief of finding this out, assisted by the counselling of the late Dr Tim Field, as something of an epiphany.  Firstly the knowledge that he was being bullied and what that was, was Something he could use to control the mental conflict which was preventing him from performing at work or at home.  (Bullying isn’t a dream like some people would have you think.)  Armed with this he set in his mind a simple mantra to deal with what bullies refer to as “overthinking it”.  To block some thoughts he would simply use his internal voice to say “It’s not me”.  He then focused on developing countermeasures aimed to stop the assailant(s) from engineering incidents, or if he could he would disrupt them.  This victim said that his assailants found it difficult to recruit somebody into his post.  A technique common in the NHS to deal with trumped up work performance issues.  The victim is demoted by a back door process of appointing someone to take his job.  It was difficult to recruit because the victim had met each of the candidates before their job interview.
  • Counter Denial, Keeping Records and Writing Reports.  The victims natural response to bullying is denial (part of the continuous mental conflict) once the victim has established what is behind his treatment it should become routine to log any incidents.  No encounter between the victim and assailant should be “shrugged off”. 
  • Realise its YOUR perception of events that matters.  Do not let the authorities “shrug things off”.  If you are the victim, its your perception of incidents that matters.
  • Make Time to Deal with it.  Dealing with toxic people can be a daunting prospect in complex situations like the workplace.  Effectively an assailant will triple your mental workload and divert energy from your lifestyle and job.  Focus on the problem by devoting time to it.  What happens at work, deal with at work.  One victim excluded himself from other activities or gave them “back burner” status until after the bullying had been resolved.  This episode earned him a lot of respect in the hierarchy for the way it was dealt with.  While he “wasn’t performing as a manager”, he was letting the CEO know how he and colleagues were treated at work and how to improve that by developing anti bullying policy.  Eventually in another job, this meant giving up his job, which had become unsustainable.  Each situation is different.
  • Create a fallback. The ultimate aim of an assailant is to hit you where it hurts.  If he or she can get you into the mental state described above it will have the desired effect – an impact on your ability to work.  Everyone who works should ask themselves if they are out of work, how will they survive? Make sure you aren’t the vulnerable person they think you are or want you to be.  Not everyone can do this but everyone should.  Putting aside a few months wages as a reserve will give you a choice.
  • Take back control.  Take control of any incidents.  This can be achieved by noting when and and how they occur and the content.  This will help in predicting where future incidents will occur. 
  • Get on with your life and live it the way YOU want to.  Controlling mindsets will aim to limit the victims lifestyle.  Sadists get pleasure from forcing people to obey their rules.  By doing things that the victim is perfectly entitled to it and not complying with twisted demands, it will expose the mindset of the perpetrator and deny the controlling assailant his or her pleasure.  It will also make them more determined and in turn they will increase the number of incidents, creating more opportunities for them to give away vital clues to the behaviour.   
  • Know the mindset you are dealing with.  Take care to listen to what is being said by the assailant and study his mindset.  Check against reality what he is saying to the victim and the authorities.  
  • Be alert.  Hyper-vigilance is an illness which leads the victim to be alert to sights and sounds associated with attacks.  While an illness, this can be very useful.  One victim said he got a valuable warning that an incident would be occurring from sounds he heard in previous incidents just before an attack.  While these sounds raised his levels of fear, they also enabled him to be ready to gather evidence and briefly prepare for the inevitable.
  • Establish True Intent and Motive.  Listening and recording what is being said by an assailant during any engagement helps to establish the assailants true intent.  If you cant record it, make notes.  Sort the lies and half lies from the truth and test them against reality.
  • Expose the assailants lies and deception.   A common tactic of bullies is to fool the authorities into believing they are the victim.  See DARVO here.  One victim said that observing the authorities reaction to his  version of events and then hearing what the assailant had told the same people about it raised his suspicion enough to research DARVO and eliminate it from the process.
  • Keep in touch with your GP about your illness.  He or she has access to medicines that help with symptoms of reactive depression and PTSD and the GP can give you time off work to take you out of the situation – if that’s where it is.  In the workplace, use the Access to Medical Records act to tell your GP to deny your assailant information about your illness.  The last thing any victim will need is an assailant that knows how effective his actions against the victim are.  He (or she) will be judging their success by it.  Unfortunately corporate occupational health departments have a habit of sharing your health information with workplace assailant’s.

Early Recognition

Depending on their own mindset, the initial response of victims when they realise they aren’t in a friendly relationship can be an unpleasant Adrenalin rush or shock.  This is caused by the fight or flight response being triggered.  Varying symptoms of post traumatic stress will occur from that point on depending on the victims mindset.  For the victim this is unpleasant but for the perpetrator it brings a moment of pleasure and satisfaction.

Conclusions

If you find yourself in persistent conflict and becoming traumatised, the best advice ever is to walk away early on in the process.  If you have just moved into a neighbourhood, this will not be what you want to hear.  Almost certainly if you have bought the property, its price will drop as you will have to declare neighbourhood disputes and problems when selling.  All this is good for the assailant of course as he or she can weaponise it and use it to blackmail the victim.

While putting distance between you and the nightmare might seem to be a good idea, and will prevent abusers from getting at you, in the background there will always be a link from one place to the next.  This can come in the form of references, or between neighbours, some of whom would go to the extreme of influencing your life and attempt to achieve that through destroying your reputation with stigmata that follow you to wherever you are.  

Of all the countermeasures we have come across I have left the best until the last.  Winning is highly recommended.  A win, will prove the victims case and exonerate him or her.  The bullying stops and whatever form it takes you get your self esteem back.  

Epilogue.

The right place for resolving disputes is through the courts, however, like the police their knowledge of the subject is limited and easily corrupted by money and power, gossip and lies.  The type of “justice” bullies rely on in the community by spreading lies and rumours about people is never acceptable.

Stuart Dixon

Notes about Armando Martins Case Study No 3 and emotional blackmail 31/10/18

Background
The victim in case three is an elderly man whose next door neighbour accused him thirty years ago, of interfering with her TV set.  Relationships have never been good since this was resolved.  He is well known in the community for his hobby, being a licensed radio amateur.  His profile is quite high in the neighbourhood due to his garden antenna system.  He gets on well with his other neighbours – most of whom support him. 

Recently he has been the recipient of several types of unwanted behaviour as follows:  

Type 1.  False accusations of licence breaches delivered via secretive symbolic messages left on the doorstep of his home by an anonymous caller.  The symbol used is that used by CB radio operators to accuse each other of causing problems by “improper” use of his radio, breaking the terms of his licence.

Editors Note:  In common with other cases being compiled in support of Armando Martins, this feature implies the perpetrator has a need to torment the victim.  It implies he is being observed breaking rules and the potential to involve the authorities.  It is a veiled threat therefore.  The same symbol has appeared several times in the last few years. 

Type 2.  More recently he received a malicious call about his hobby purporting to come from the authorities and telling him he would be in breach of the rules of his licence, if he didn’t act.  This caused the victim to respond.

These incidents he thinks are pranks, however the frequency and numbers of incidents are building up and this is upsetting for him and his wife.  Someone is “getting off” on causing them anxiety.

Emotional Blackmail

Type 3. The neighbour next door’s demeanour has never been good, but recently she has made a number of caustic remarks about him and his hobby containing threats to disrupt him by reporting him to the council.  This attempt at coercive control was delivered over a number of incidents, one of which included complaints to his wife shouted through a communal wall, and accompanied by banging on the wall.  This occurred while she was indoors enjoying TV and he was enjoying a session of radio operating in the shed. 

When they eventually spoke, there was an allegation of TV Interference and the neighbour adopted a more threatening stance.

Despite his offers to resolve the situation, which mean accessing the neighbours TV to test it, she refuses and continues to threaten him saying she will have it stopped by the council.  The victim takes the correct action and obtains a leaflet from the BBC and gives it to the neighbour.  The neighbour insists she will do it her way. 

NB.  It is the BBC who have the technical resources to locate and prevent the interference.  The council don’t have any (but do have enforcement officers).

She isn’t interested – she wants to invoke sanctions that close him down. 

Anxiety levels are raised.  Her attitude and demeanour imply if the victim doesn’t comply with her rules, he will face the “bureaucrats” at the council or some other judgement.  As of today the victim awaits a call from the council and is in fear that they will act on her complaint rather than leave it to the proper authority.  (A few weeks later there is a distinctly toxic atmosphere).  While the victim said that he wasn’t losing any sleep it was clear now that he sees this as a threat to his livelihood.  In his mind he is continually questioning the situation – racking his brains, looking for reasons why he is under attack, what the next steps may be and how to deal with it – fearing the worst.  

NB.  The behaviour of this neighbour bears a strong resemblance to that shown in Nightmare Neighbours Next Door Series 5 Episode 8.  This has been screened multiple times on multiple channels of Freeview TV – ed.

Stuart Dixon

The Armando Martins Campaign – Summary of Achievements and Further Action Required – 02/10/18

Annual Report of the Armando Martins Campaign – Highlighting Achievements and the need for further work to make it more difficult for planning laws to be abused.  

Background

It is now just under two years since the petitioners of the Armando Martins Campaign asked Canterbury City Council to re-instate Armando Martins’ amateur radio antenna, – after it was ordered to be removed following an act of mobbing.

Acting on behalf of the mob, council workers had successfully curtailed Armando’s hobby causing him to move.  After he moved, council workers continued to interfere with his lifestyle for several months and he was subsequently refused planning permission despite asking specifically to move to a place where he could use his property.  The impact of this struggle, a journey lasting over several years, was to thoroughly depress, stress and demoralise him.

The immediate aim of this campaign in late 2016 was to expose the nature of his treatment and counter the behaviour he encountered by resolving the issues raised by all parties.  We wanted the council to fully re-instate his statutory and human rights (to develop and use his property.)  These rights had been arbitrarily put to one side in order to satisfy his assailants.

A second case we reviewed (case 2) was used to compare Armando’s experience with.  This came to court in March 2018.  It resulted in the assailant being found guilty of assault and given a conditional discharge.  The victim in case 2 is currently enjoying a respite from the bullying he received over 25 years of living in the vicinity of a toxic neighbour and is able to get on with his life.

Achievement
Both victims are now able to get on with their lives.  Armando was removed to safer accommodation, and, while he has now regained his lifestyle and thanked the council, he cannot yet draw a line under the whole experience, due to the number of avoidable incidents involving council workers and the way his planning application has been handled, which infringed his rights and flaunted various policies.

Case 2 approaches a similar junction, the council workers he encountered have been very helpful, not so the police, as they refuse to acknowledge the offence of stalking was being committed, or do anything about the surveillance cameras overlooking the victim’s property.

Where it could, the campaign gave Armando help to resolve the incidents and acted as agents and advocate, helping him through three incidents; a complaint to the local government ombudsman, a planning application and its subsequent appeal.  Our approach was to walk with him during this part of his journey and share his experience.

Currently Armando is pursuing legal action against the council staff who he thinks have helped, by breaching his rights.  He means to recover costs and make sure others don’t get the same treatment.

Result

In September 2018 there is a noticeable difference to Armando’s outlook.  Over a cup of tea in the radio shack at his new home, we were listening to an Italian radio station making contacts with many other countries across the globe.  By October 2018 he has himself made contacts in North and South America, the Indian Ocean and Europe using his latest antenna, and he is building up a steady number of contacts with pins on the world map – proving the aerial is doing its job.  He is now in the process of improving his garden and living accommodation, and looking after his health while planning a future expedition.

Learning Opportunities – Armando

For 78 year old Armando, the last six months have been good for learning about radio, and this year’s focus has been on how to get good transmitting performance, with the minimum of local impact, while complying with the planning laws governing his  experimentation with aerials in the back yard.  (These are set out in the national planning policy framework (NPPF) (revised in July 2018) and related documentation, the most important being Planning Policy and Guidance No 8 – Telecommunications.)

Lessons Learned by the Campaign

The campaign was also learning.  To get to this point, we studied and consulted planning experts at the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB).  As an organisation the campaign put the views of its forty three thousand signatories to the UK Planning Authorities and the Radio Society as well as the council and housing departments involved.

These conversations are worth recording primarily because they answer the question why is nobody listening and why can’t I get a quick, simple and accurate answers to my questions  about planning or support from the planning system when it goes wrong for me?

After consulting Armando’s MP he was directed (rightly) to complain to the ombudsman.  This is still in progress after more than six months.

A further case came to light which highlighted the nature of the problem of consistency between different LPA’s when dealing with licensed radio amateurs.  John Carpenter, A licensed radio amateur from Cornwall had written a short piece about how his LPA had forced him to apply for planning permission for an antenna which normally wouldn’t need it costing him £500 for plans and the process.  (Source: Gary Myers – https://www.m0plt.me.uk/#planning).

Since the conversation with Gary circa 29th October the importance of these conversations has been realised:

  • Public Consultation Process ( Follow Link).  This is the official means of making change in government.  Complaining about problems to your MP puts the complainant in a minority and you will be directed elsewhere – usually the ombudsman.  Democratic process allows for public consultation and public consultations are used to make changes to plans and laws. Organisations and individuals can influence change via this process.
  • Local Plans (Follow link).  This is about shaping where you live.  Since 2012 each local authority has been directed to make their own local plans in consultation with local people.  These are the rules that the LPA is more likely to use to make planning decisions.  Martins local plans are devoid of anything that would make obtaining planning permission easier for the radio enthusiast.  Also they were written by the LPA and not the local people, he thinks radio amateurs weren’t consulted when they were compiled and therefore they don’t take into account this minority groups needs.

    More about local plans and who can make them

The RSGB acknowledged that Local Plans is a problem and said they would take part in consultations with the Department for Planning and Communities about the national planning policy framework.

Because of the above we were able to recommend that the parliamentary campaign to exempt amateur radio aerials from requiring planning permission take a different approach  from November 2018.  See Joint Statement Here 

We concluded to make change in Amateur Radio needs the right people to do the right things at the right time using established principles and techniques.

RSGB

The radio society guidelines on planning were re-published in September 2018.  The campaign has two constructive criticisms for an otherwise welcome revision.  It omits to appraise the significant changes made to planning policy and inform the reader of some important developments relative to them which changed in 2018.  Also it ignores the Armando Martins Campaigns approaches to the RSGB over their attitude to neighbour bullying aka nightmare neighbours, abuse of licensed radio amateurs and the planning authorities.  However it gives good planning advice.

Nightmare Neighbours and The RSGB
The RSGB’s current policy regarding the neighbour nightmare is that it takes a bystander role.  According to the late Dr Tim Field, et al,  bystanders tend to sit on their hands and indulge in victim blaming during encounters with bullies.

Normal Neighbour Behaviour

The RSGB puts getting on with the neighbours at the centre of its policy as a means for members to achieve their planning goals.  See here for a report entitled A Neighbourly Nation: Through the Keyhole prepared by the COOP and Neighbourhood Watch.  This provides some basic statistics about neighbour behaviour, establishing what good neighbours are and that 52% of people surveyed said they had good relations with neighbours.

Borderline Abnormal Behaviour

The report went on to say a quarter of people say their neighbours are less than courteous.  We established that getting on with the neighbours is normative behaviour.

Abnormal Behaviour

To support its view the Armando Martins Campaign also discovered through the work of Svenn Torgersen, PhDEinar Kringlen, MDVictoria Cramer, PhD prevalence of people at large in the community exhibiting a dark triad of behavioural traits or personality disorders such as sadistic personality disorder.  By comparing the traits of people exhibiting toxic behaviour with normal behaviour we concluded that there are small numbers of people in the target population of our study who are exposed to being victimised by neighbours with these traits.  We conclude it’s no co-incidence to find in the target community of licensed radio amateurs people reporting toxic neighbour\council worker issues via social media, Seven cases have come to light – all in the south east of England.  #MeToo

Because of the variation in reactions from these different mindsets, we say, while the majority of people benefit from great relationships with their neighbours, getting on with the neighbours should never be a pre-requisite to entering into a planning development.

In case study two, the victim’s normal neighbours allowed him to put antenna wires in their gardens and encouraged the diversity his hobby brought to the area.  They were happy to learn about it.  A toxic neighbour silently objected, and cut the wires in several acts of covert (and then overt) sabotage.

As we established that getting on with the neighbours is normative behaviour, we noted that toxic people have an ability to pass off their abnormal behaviour as normal,  producing plausible lies, particularly when compromised etc.

By denying, or playing down the existence of toxic behaviour in communities, we think it exposes others, forcing them to take part in a range of undesirable or inappropriate behaviours.  Some examples of which are:

  • Victimisation
  • Opening the victim to coercive control.
  • Encouraging the victim to indulge in bribery.
  • Encouraging the victim to be false – by being nice to people they don’t really like.
  • Exposure to emotional blackmail.
  • Forcing avoidance behaviour,  the victim hiding or limiting their activities.
  • Victim blaming; Members of the community blaming the victim (for whatever he or she did to encourage the assailant.)  Also members of the victims hobby community blaming the victim for bringing the activity into disrepute or for their own difficulties\behaviour.
  • incitement (e.g. to retaliate).
  • etc

The victim in case 2 said “the first sign of trouble is if you receive a veiled or overt threat when talking to your neighbours”.  “Do we have to put up with that?” “Eyesore” etc.  Unwelcome questions and remarks about your property are indicators that all is not well and will set hairs running.  He records his assailant has many of the traits associated with sadistic personality disorder.  Someone who spent time making up and trying to enforce a set of rules on his victim and raising the stakes when the victim doesn’t comply – reporting the most minor and sometimes made up “infringements” or “misdemeanours” to the police or the planning\housing authorities for his own pleasure.  Victim 2 makes the point normal people are more forgiving and polite about mistakes and errors and don’t tell lies.  All of his “errors” and “mistakes”  were shouted at him – or were lies, made up and shouted at him in front of the other neighbours.  His neighbours all feared the assailant – as a tyrant.  “All of this was ignored by the police until he assaulted me”.

Both victims have had anxiety levels raised, and experienced sleeplessness and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress, flashbacks about incidents and obsessing about retaliatory measures etc.

Once exposed the assailant represents a perpetual threat, which might not come directly, but via the planning department.  Toxic people like to create fear.  This is enhanced by anonymity.  The perception is that planning authorities gather intelligence on “illegal” developments and this is something the toxic mindset uses.  How the planning authorities react is a variable which causes fear – that the victim’s goals will be blocked and restricted – giving the assailant pleasure and something to gloat about.

Talking openly about what you do for pleasure is an open invitation to a toxic mindset. 

The RSGB should explain its policy further.  

Steven Way, a chartered building surveyor at Collier Stevens, was quoted in the Times on 8th April 2018 as saying,  “Some people seem to think that rejecting their neighbour’s planning application is a way to get even if there is a history of distrust. Many disputes are rooted in jealousy.” He was talking about a high profile case which had been resolved by the courts.

When comparing the performance of Canterbury City Council in Armando’s case, with how Gravesham Borough Council dealt with Case 2, there are significant differences in the way housing and planning staff operate when nightmare neighbours attack.  The former it is suggested, are more open to being used to abuse.   

See also here for a brief summary of case three.

Gaming the System

The Armando Martins Campaign concludes:  There is enough evidence to prove there are toxic people at large in our communities.  These are people with the type of mindset that would willingly exploit “the planning system” for their own (sadistic) pleasure.  When they don’t have the power to get at their neighbours they can tap into a ready source.  Willing council workers who  flaunt government and local policy to coerce them into compliance.  

Pot luck for the victim who depends on the skills of policy makers, council workers and police to detect and rectify sometimes criminal behaviour, only to find more of the same or limited services.  One further learning experience involves discovering just how much effort is needed to deal with nightmare neighbours because of the protective envelope of bureaucracy and lack of support for victims.  This in itself is a weapon in the right hands.  Victim blaming also brings victim punishment from people who role themselves as by-standers.  The reaction of authorities when asked for help, may well take the form of more bureaucracy – being forced into complaint systems, appeal systems and judicial services that are designed not to be productive but to coerce people into giving up.

Thank You

During the petition phase of the campaign we listened to lots of opinion, and contacted responsible people in: Canterbury City Council and East Kent Housing, The Department for Community and Planning and the Planning Inspectorate, and also the Radio Society of Great Britain, these organisations also all played a hand in getting to this point.  We were particularly inspired by the contribution of people on Facebook especially the un-official Radio Society of Great Britain and Amateur Radio UK groups for sharing their experience and views (and for not booting me out).

What does success looks like?

Not all opinions were  appropriate or agreeable, and some conflicted with the campaigns view’s.  They did however tell us what success would look like and how it would be achieved, by influencing these organisations in variable degrees.  For example with the radio society who supported us with planning advice, and who have recently updated their guidance which was outdated and inaccurate.  We think we even managed to re-focus their strategy by highlighting the benefits for elderly people of hobbies, by pointing them towards good practice such as the Men’s sheds movement.  We notice the RSGB has broadened their strategy in that very direction.  We also came across taboos, and people unwilling to stand up for Armando – blaming him for his situation.  That’s not unusual, it is human.  Nonetheless an inappropriate value in this day and age.  Also we passed on the requirement for changes, to the national planning policy framework team and after evaluating it for the planning inspectorate, are reasonably sure there is to be change in the areas we highlighted.

They think it’s all over…

We could leave it here but Armando thinks if we do, sooner or later he or somebody else will face this treatment and therefore he is now taking action aimed to close the problem down for everyone.  To support him he asks you to view his crowdfunding page here and join him in taking further preventative measures.  The campaign remains open for business, because it is simply not OK to witness such behaviour and do nothing.

A draft constitution covering the forward plan to raise funds to support a legal challenge has been raised.

Draft Constitution
The Armando Martins Campaign and subsequent crowdfunding is to cover legal costs that enable Armando Martins to be fairly represented in court.  As others have been treated the same as Armando we want to prevent further occurrences of abuse and provide help and advice for others in similar situations – filling a gap in the RSGB’s services.  We think the way to achieve this is to set a legal precedent and to be an organisation and continue campaigning.  IT’s NOT OK.  Until then we want to raise funds to keep “old timers” on the air until they choose to stop, especially when their circumstances change. This is to combat loneliness and breakdown in mental and physical health. We are open to all radio amateurs who find themselves in difficulty after their antenna systems and plans have been interfered with or their legitimacy misunderstood.  In the interim we will develop a process for tackling unfair decisions by council officials based on Armando’s experience and make it available to others. When there is a fair and consistent process we will close the campaign. When the campaign winds up, surplus funds will go to a charity such as Men’s Sheds.

Governance\Roles
Any money raised will be kept in a non-registered charity account. (Any money collected temporarily and currently goes into a business account).  Nominated officials are: Mac McDonald, John Rivers, Stuart Dixon and Ian Hope.

Stuart Dixon

 

How toxic People Behave – We don’t like what you are saying…..

Twice this week, in case studies, one in my own life, I have seen examples of Corporate Toxic Ignorance at a local level.

Case 1 – A local Councillor

We held a meeting with this chap, who was obviously diametrically opposed to a friends proposal requiring planning permission, in his constituency.  Nobody else in my friends  community objects to this, even the parish council supported him.

We didn’t know the councillor was so opposed when the meeting was booked, but at the meeting it became obvious that he was absolutely hostile to the fact that people like us, just want to enjoy our hobbies in our own back yards, without interference from our neighbours.  He was opposed, despite planning law being fairly explicit as to what is allowed.

After the meeting we began to politely email him to thank him for attending and to ensure he had noted our friends requirements but from the point he left the meeting he began to act against the proposal – using his considerable power as a member of the city councils planning committee to sabotage the application.  The decision was removed from the hands of a planning officer and tactically diverted into a planning committee meeting where the councillor could debate it, rather than risk it being approved by a planning officer.

FFS councillor, this is a seventy eight year old man who just wants people to stop interfering with his livelihood.

Recorded in the minutes of a planning committee meeting, is the councillor saying the following, without mentioning what the outcome or content we provided was or mentioning our views:

Simply “Councillor Xxxx-Xxxxx made a voluntary announcement that he had met the applicant at his property and had also met the speaker (me) from whom he had received considerable correspondence which had been passed to the Planning Officer.  Councillor Xxxx-Xxxxx indicated that he had not in any way pre-judged the application.)”

Well he did as our account of the meeting and his emails show.

NB.  Normal behaviour by any standard says that he should have let the planning officer do his job.

At the committee meeting the councillor had the opportunity to withdraw from the planning meeting but instead he led the discussion that ultimately saw nine out of ten vote to refuse planning permission, forcing my friend into a planning appeal.  (which is final).

(The same councillor wrote in the local press after the planning committee meeting how he had discarded the joint opinions of several thousand petitioners on the topic. Toxic People love to brag and seldom let you live and let live, once you challenge them.)  They are not there to let you live and let live but are controlling instead.

Case 2 – A Regimental Association

Background

The author is a progressive person and sees change as part of life – he has been running a branch of a national regimental association for several years and it is not without problems, one of which is a dwindling and ageing membership – approx twenty people paying very small subscriptions when there is a market of a few thousand potential members.   Something obviously needs to change.

What we did

We took the problems to our branch membership and noted their requirements for change, to put to the Regimental association.  They were doing similar studies but had so far left our group out.

Before we did all this work we had attended the annual general meeting (AGM) of the association twice, and its sub committees a few times so were sure we were on the right track. (not so apparently – see later).

At the 2017 AGM We were impressed that the general at the head of the organisation had asked for suggestions that could be included in the associations forthcoming strategy in 2017.  The green light was on.

What happened Next?
When we submitted our short, presentable, easy to read documents to the hierarchy, they were rejected out of hand so quickly, and in such a way that it was as though it hadn’t been read.  I challenged that but it was clear to me then that the hierarchy of the association didn’t like what we (the signatories to our proposal) had said.  Needless to say our suggestion never got to the general.  (Well not with our name on it anyway).  At this point I let our committee know and resigned my position.  The options weren’t acceptable.  I would never accept a position in an organisation with a toxic leadership and without a plan or opportunities to develop.

As the branch has opportunities to report any issues it has once a year before the AGM, you would think the next time this came up it would be debated as a fundamental problem, especially as our chairman had discussed the issues with with the president who attended the meeting.    Not likely.   We had to fight for a copy of the minutes of the meeting which simply said “Each branch gave a very good update on their current membership and highlighted key points to the Group Director.  Copies of branch reports can be requested through the Group Secretary.” In an email the president said the group meeting was not an appropriate forum for the discussion.

Toxic People don’t believe in your right to freedom of expression and will do their best to assert their own personality into any situation.  They claim your good ideas as theirs or assert their own will without considering your ideas no matter how good they are.  If they don’t like what they hear for any reason,  (Jealousy or envy for example) they will suppress it.

If you work for a toxic boss who employs a spin doctor then expect stress.  Here’s a link.

And another

Stuart Dixon

 

National Planning Policy Framework Review – Campaign Contribution

Background

As an organisation our interest is not only to get justice for Armando.  The same treatment he got from his neighbours and the council can be applied to anyone, but is a particular feature in the life of some radio amateurs.  What happens is the amateur suddenly finds himself the victim of a malicious complaint aimed specifically to ruin his or her enjoyment of their property.  As Armando’s local councillor (inappropriately) put it during his planning application, “if you put up an amateur radio antenna in your garden – you can expect people to have a go at it.”

We say that attitude is victim blaming, a technique used to mask the true motivation for a complaint, which is usually attributable to the controlling behaviour of the assailant.  The type of complaints amateurs encounter are easily refuted, however the malicious complainer can get lucky when councils respond out of ignorance, to the loudest shout.  In Armando’s case his assailant managed to motivate several complainers in an act of bullying, known as mobbing, to voice a number of complaints, most of which were fabricated.  The mobbing went unaddressed despite being listed by the council as anti-social behaviour – council staff joined in blocking his goals and blighting his life and satisfying the assailant(s) need for power.

Being able to enjoy the use of your property is a human right and making malicious complaints is a criminal activity called Harassment.

The National Planning Policy Framework focuses on the needs of the community for housing.  At an individual level, the needs of radio users are simple; to be able to deploy their property – the antennas they buy or develop, on the property they own or rent.

National Planning Policy Framework Consultation

The Government Policy which rules the Planning Regime in the UK is the National Planning Policy Framework 2012.

On 12th March 2018, the secretary of state for communities and planning announced a public consultation about a newly drafted version of this policy. (See link above). This ran from March to May 2018 and is now closed.

The Armando Martins Campaign has consulted with the Radio Society of Great Britain over many of the issues he faced.  We see eye to eye on a number of issues.

The problem in a nutshell is, the current framework excludes amateur radio as an entity.  Amateur Antenna experimenters have to apply the rules for housing extensions, conservatories, sheds and garages.  This limits the height and size available to a particular “virtual box” dependent on the size of the property.  Council workers dealing with radio amateurs have no knowledge about  amateur radio and are expected to make planning decisions etc.  Successive re-writes of this policy have eliminated the needs of radio amateurs – making life more and more difficult.

It follows that to rectify this for the future, some improvements were needed to the policy, to improve relevance and define further the needs of radio amateurs.

The campaign was able to contribute as an organisation to the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework 2018.  It asked for several amendments and shared information with the RSGB who agreed the suitability of those relating to amateur radio and telecommunications.

Amendments Improving Relevance to Part 10 Supporting High Quality Telecommunications

Firstly, where the draft states at Para 112 – Planning Policies and Decisions should support the expansion of electronic communications networks.

We asked to insert – that these are usually regulated by OFCOM.

By inserting this it would make it clear that amateur antenna developments would be included in planning policy.

Secondly the draft covers a number of situations applicable to telecommunications services at Para 115:

We asked to insert a new paragraph after para 115 c) as follows:

d) Applications for planning permission to install the masts often used by amateur radio operators, radio taxi firms and other private and commercial users, usually present few potential planning problems in terms of size and visual impact over a wide area and will not normally be of such a scale as to have a serious impact on local amenity. Such applicants will generally have less scope for using alternative sites or for sharing sites, and masts will often need to be located on the premises.

By inserting this, it would help resolve issues where scale and amenity were being misquoted in order to resist planning applications.

Enforcement

Where we don’t see eye to eye with RSGB has been in the field of abusive neighbours and nimbyism,  There is a tendency for victim blaming here.  Too often we hear you have to keep in with the neighbours and while we support that whole heartedly it is not appropriate to have to resort to bribery to avoid emotional abuse, as several amateurs have reported to us.  Where neighbours have taken advantage of planning regulations to abuse us by making anonymous complaints for example.   We therefore have also asked for the enforcement regulations to be centralised (one Policy for all areas), and gave feedback as to the requirement to have a system that could not be abused.

The consultation ended on 8th May 2018 and we are now waiting to see if our effort had any impact.  There’s a chance it may not.

The revised policy as it stands is a welcome change and if all goes well, we will be able to close the campaign on the strength of it, having made all of our points.   We asked RSGB to query the right to develop in the space above a property which was included in the policy.

Best wishes,

 

Stuart Dixon

What Happened Next? – Follow up to the Refusal of a Planning Application on 9th January 2018

The aim of this short report is to state what happened when Mr Martins engaged in the Planning Process with Canterbury City Council.

Background
According to the planning portal Armando could decide whether his antenna designs were to follow the recommended pathway for the type of development category they belonged in.  They could either be de-minimis, permitted or planned.  The portal recommends consultation for the first two types but didn’t mandate it.  He noted some difficulty engaging the planning department about these and decided he could go ahead with confidence after our consultation with the RSGB.  The antenna he previously used without planning permission, now needed planning permission.  Technically to get what he had asked for from the property,  He would require planning permission was developing an antenna requiring planning permission but also had designs for permitted developments which would allow him to make use of his radio’s.  He accepted he would need to go through due process and expected due process back from the council.

During the year housing staff attempted to “enforce” a ban on his wire antenna, he constructed a wire antenna using his right to choose a permitted development.

During these meetings we took an educational approach and realised the council housing staff, issuing “enforcement action” weren’t authorised or qualified to, nor had they offered any measurements or paperwork etc. A theme running throughout Armando’s experience and causing him stress.  Having now queried this with RSGB we learnt we took the correct action by engaging the council and not accepting the “enforcement” and documenting the conversation.  Subsequently RSGB informed us via an article titled An Unexpected Visitor in the the March 2018 issue of RADCOM that this was the correct form of action.

From moving to Thanington in March, up until June 2017, Armando was quite happy with his situation and was preparing a planning application. He was expecting housing to support him by checking ahead that the property he moved into was somewhere he could get planning permission for. Before he moved.

Pre-planning Phase

Armando was advised by the RSGB Planning Team to take advantage of pre-planning and obtain a certificate of lawful development, when attempting to put this into practice it was contradicted by the architect as being a waste of time and money.  From this point it became important to monitor the process.

Planning Process
There were discrepancies between the process actual and the process expected according to both the RSGB and the Kent Design Guide.  An aide to planning applications in Kent.

All went well until the planning officers decision. Following a verbal report of a conversation with the planning officer from the architect, it appeared that the decision would be for his proposal as there were no objections by the closing date.

There then came another message: “A councillor has asked for your application to go before the planning committee. There was going to be a refusal, and it was a committee decision, because of its impact on visual amenity”.

Deep Prejudice

By coincidence we had interviewed the councillor for Thanington who said he was going to intercept the proposal and make sure it would go before the planning committee. He was generally disparaging of amateur radio and made inappropriate remarks, some of which we heard influencing the planning committee outcome when considering his failed application at Thornhurst.  We question his attitude.  During the conversation we had, he stereotyped Armando as a Radio Ham, “You radio hams”.  “You should expect trouble if you put up those structures in your gardens”.  (We say;  It is wrong to blame the victim for the anti social behaviour of his neighbours, the council has a duty.  Also when they gave him trouble, the council he sits on are expected to prevent that and not condone it.  Also they have a duty not to waste public money.  See below.  The same councillor was most vocal during the planning meeting, leading the less experienced councillors, together with the chairwoman, when he should have left the room.  We say he had a deep rooted prejudice.

Going by prior experience, Armando was understandably upset and wanted to know more. He had assumed the cooperative process described in the Kent Design Guide, and also as described by RSGB Planning would be available to him, and was proceeding in that direction. As far as he knew he would be able to ask questions and could modify the plan if there were issues, to make a more acceptable proposal.

He asked for more information – a questionnaire was produced. This included how and by who had the application been diverted to a committee decision. Also about visual amenity.

The response was that “The Canterbury City Council Planning department cannot answer questions during the process, due to its high case load.”

Armando had identified two possible candidates for the interception.

He became concerned about; visual impact, the assurances made by East Kent Housing, the lack of a meeting on site with the planning officer and the lack of a response to his questions. This led us to create a separate overview of his locality.

He could not reconcile the phrase “visual amenity”, when related to the area, in context. In the area there are several objects in the street scene that take the eye and it is litter strewn, several refrigerators have been seen since the time he moved in. A number of vertical objects are present. Objects that the proposal would be wholly congruent with, such as an electricity substation on his doorstep fenced with grey iron railings (the same colour scheme as the mast). Also nearby residents are used to seeing Multidirectional Telephone junctions mounted on Telegraph poles. Presenting a tee shape, similar to the proposal. Also the refusal seemed to suggest the application could be controlled by one neighbour next door, based on the “fact” she “might” see the antenna and make an objection, but who didn’t when asked and whose view across the property was very well screened by foliage (at the time). We think this could well result in Armando being held to ransom or promote bribery. De ja Vu.

As the report had little to say in favour of the proposal, we think the detail needed to balance the report in favour of the proposal was omitted. We asked if the planning officers report could be combined with our information, ahead of the planning committee meeting. Following the late publication of the report on 21st December, we found out this had been ignored. We took the issue up with head of planning who said he would ask the planning officer to review it. He didn’t.

From 29th December there was a game of cat and mouse. We thought it fair not to appear at the planning committee meeting until the issues raised had been reconciled.

Only the day before the planning committee meeting and on the day, was Armando to hear that there was no chance of his information being incorporated in the planning officers report or altering the decision before going before the committee. Postponements refused.

It then became a foregone conclusion and we think it was tactical that Armando was railroaded into a decision. After attempting to back out, he felt coerced into attending.

At the meeting, we weren’t allowed to speak, before or after I had spoken on his behalf. Despite asking for three slots. We had to listen to his application being assassinated by the PO and two councillors, one of whom had a grudge and the other with inappropriate fixed views.

Armando deeply believes that this is a poor example of public service standards and has quoted the Nolan Report. He has asked his MP to intervene with EKH.  Here he was directed to complain to the LG&SCO – the local government and social care ombudsman.

From the campaign POV he is unable to identify anyone in Canterbury City Council who can take responsibility and make things happen. His rights to enjoy his property are at risk.

Also because there are more than one amateur, in more than one council area affected by malicious complaints which triggered this saga, he is offering the chance for RSGB to help by calling in his application.

became clear that the process he was a participant in, fell short of guidelines.  Essentially his needs, which the secretary of state for community and local government says must be met by the planning process, were discarded on the strength of a single report biased towards denying him those needs.

At each stage of the process he raised a number of issues and objections first with the planning officer in charge and then with the head of planning.  These requests were systematically ignored.  Attempts to stop the process to allow for the issues to be rectified were also ignored, railroading him towards a decision made solely on the recommendation of the planning officer.  Evidence Mr Martins supplied to refute that decision was not disclosed.  The planning officers recommendation contained a clause giving the power to refuse or take the antenna down was given to his neighbour.

There were no objections, and on this basis it was expected the planning officer would make the decision to allow the mast.  Instead the decision was sidetracked into a committee decision and the truth about how that was carried out was obfuscated.  Mr Martins was denied the support of his local councillor, and the Radio Society of Great Britain.  But has support from his MP.

If your wondering why at 77 Years of age there is no support for this then join the club.

Naturally disappointed, Mr Martins refuses to give up.  The local press has had a bit of a field day.  Our response was to contact the reporter immediately regarding the councillors inside knowledge of our petition and the lack of data or the willpower to verify it in order to support his own planning decision, in respect of the numbers of amateur radio operators in the Canterbury area.  Invalidating our argument is a technique well covered by literature.  We summed up the planning committee meeting as deeply ingrained cultural bullying.  Firstly his access to the process was interfered with by not allowing him time to speak.

We think the process was used to relentlessly drive the application towards a final decision whilst not disclosing the full facts associated with the site or the application.

It became clear that there is no place for amateur radio enthusiasts in the 460 +/- pages of local plans, supposedly prepared with the consultation of all people in local communities.

Our response the the press did raise the eyebrows of the RSGB.