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The Armando Martins Campaign – Current Situation and Update as at October 2019 – (Revised 20th Oct 19).

By Stuart Dixon – Acting CEO Radio Heritage UK

August 2019 – Meeting with Rosie Duffield MP.  (Canterbury)

Armando Martins and me were granted time with Rosie Duffield MP in August to talk about the way that East Kent Housing and Canterbury City Council had cracked down in a draconian way on Armando’s lifestyle. This followed his horrendous experience at the hands of an abusive mob while living in social housing. 

Martins was well received by the MP and encouraged by the level of support, understanding and empathy shown. Being treated as a voter boosted his confidence in being able to eventually obtain closure with East Kent Housing – something he is determined to achieve. He was sad to report this had so far been avoided by the senior management.  Rosie Duffield MP was genuinely interested in our account of the abuse and the coercion exhibited by both his assailants and council services when he was living at Thornhurst in Herne Bay. We said we have certainly met many closed minds on the topic as Martins went about rebuilding his life.

We made the MP aware of the lack of will shown by the national complaint system to do anything about his situation and a complete record of his experience was left on file at the constituency office. (We know since the meeting that she has reviewed his situation with Deborah Upton, the CEO of East Kent Housing.  (As at today we are still waiting for Ms Upton to respond in the way the MP suggested).

From this meeting it was also realised that Martins is not alone in his East Kent Housing Experience. He was just confirming his observations of being lied to, cheated and betrayed, and having his goals repeatedly blocked, adding them to over five hundred other complaints on record at the constituency office. These mostly showed a lack of compassion to members of the public meted out by hard pressed, under qualified, and under supervised workers.

Change

We were made aware of some change of personalities in the planning committee. More recently we discovered that a new chairman has recently been appointed to EKH. We wish Jamie Weir good luck in his new appointment. We have also seen an improvement plan for EKH. We hope the above change will be able to detoxify the organisation and help Martins to move on.

Fate of Legal Challenge

We reported that after trying to settle matters through mediation, more than once, Martins was repeatedly refused this by East Kent Housing. Then in August his planned legal challenge as a litigant in person was finally torpedoed by the defendants myriad of solicitors who simply asked the judge to strike out his case

This came after a year of trying to express what had happened to him in legal terms without any legal experience, being continuously undermined by the defendants solicitors.  EKH had simply trumped Martins by making it difficult for him, using their massively available legal budget to avoid exposure.

While EKH can avoid accountability to the public by evading responsibility and cover it up like this, we think they are accountable to parliament. However we discussed new evidence (see below) and how completing the Local Government Ombudsman’s complaints process proved fruitless just as we expected.

New Evidence

Just as his legal case was collapsing Martins found new documentary evidence showing that in 2011 he, East Kent Housing and his MP – Julian Brazier MP worked to confirm his right to use his 30 foot radio mast in a Canterbury City Council property from 2010 to 2012.

These letters show his MP was the driver of that – a power no less than the House of Commons therefore.

Martins has already shown written evidence showing he had asked EKH and the LPA to respect this and this had been dismissed.

Recap of what happened when he was asked to move house

At the point when the nightmare neighbours at Thornhurst went on the attack, EKH staff refused to back him, and betrayed him. Both acted in a way that would destroy his lifestyle. In their bid to stop him from practicing a hobby, he was forced to apply for planning permission twice, when it would have been his legitimate choice not to. There was little or no chance his applications would be approved after the attacks, because his assailants went to extraordinary lengths to bias people against him – says Martins. He was forced to move again.

In his struggle we witnessed him being coerced through malleable planning processes in the direction of refusal and dismissal of his second planning application. He went through this process twice. While he was engaged in this EKH and the Local Planning Authority both exhibited a perfect example of corporate memory loss – denying all knowledge of his previous situation. The second application was a mirror image of the first application.

Sum Total of Bureaucracy

Two planning applications, two planning appeals, a complaint to the ombudsman, two attempts at mediation and a (so far) dismissed court case. We think a new approach is needed as we also ponder the cost to the taxpayer.

Applying for planning permission and meeting the demands of a planning appeal are expensive stressful processes when all you want to do is put up an aerial in your garden to support your hobby.

It seems the power of toxic nightmare neighbours to influence council workers is much greater than that of the House of Commons.

Now

In his current abode, Martins appreciates that he is subject to the dismissal of his most recent planning application. This does not rule out experimenting with antenna in his garden. Martins has said his piece and will be getting on with his life in accordance with all necessary guidelines.

In this time the following events were also relevant to his case:

  • In separate court cases, two people were jailed for 28 days for nightmare neighbour attacks. (By way of contrast, Martins abusive neighbours were supported by East Kent Housing workers who betrayed their promises to support him just to appease them).
  • Martins contributed to the House of Commons Enquiry into reality TV highlighting Channel Five’s reluctance to talk to him when he requested them to stop screening the episode which humiliated him (and his community of interest). 
  • Martins’ experience led us to start an organisation called Radio Heritage UK and to offer support to others in the same situation.
  • We intervened when another person, John, had his planning application similarly refused.  Later John’s planning appeal was upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.  He lives in social housing within a mile of Martins and applied for a similar structure on a bungalow like Martins, and of a similar size. We noted the same discrepancies in the process and poor report writing applied to John as did to Martins. 
     
  • More recently an example of good practice has come to light to compare Martins experience with. It concerns an elderly person living in a care home near Herne Bay being able to practice his hobby because the care staff helped him to erect an antenna to meet his housing needs while staying at the home. We applaud their compassion. Any decent service provider would do the same, knowing how such support affects his well being.
     
  • We took part in the public consultation about the National Planning Policy Framework and noted the changes being made in 2018. We also took part in the consultation on planning enforcement run by the LPA (Canterbury City Council).
     
  • Martins, who is incredibly dynamic for a 79 year old disabled man has been able to re-instate his social standing and keep up his hobby.
     
  • Shortly after his second move, During 2017 we worked to settle him in and establish his property needs with East Kent Housing obtaining landlords permission to erect various antenna.  We used the criteria in planning guidance, and also that set by his community of interest.  Especially we educated housing staff on how to approach the subject after they demonstrated unnecessary and unwanted belligerence, and excessive controlling behaviour to his experiments.

Ongoing Support

We continue to support Martins, and want to learn from his experience, feeding that back to his community of interest and the Planning System via his LPA – who we noted also needs support to understand our community. 

What is Martins Strategy Now?

His current experiments with radio antennae are designed with a number of purposes in mind.  Firstly for him and people like him to have fun and be supported. Also documenting the impact of his experience on his well being.

He will achieve this by documenting interactions with citizens and officials so that people engaged in his activities learn from his experience, hopefully creating an improvement. He aims:

  • To test the documents and assumptions that were used by the LPA and Planning Inspectorate in refusing him planning permission.
  • To gauge the actual social impact of the refused antenna on the housing community against the assumed impact. 
     
  • To continue to understand, test, and feedback to housing and the LPA about Martins’ housing needs in the light of Local Plans, Planning Guidelines, Gaps in process, Enforcement Policy and Recent changes.
     
  • Particularly we wish to gain an understanding about the intended use of templates for planning applications described in the 2018 version of the National Planning Policy Framework and how this applies to Martins, and in the light of John’s experience (above) plus all of the other examples of people with similar installations throughout UK.
  • Martins will work on a more acceptable design if necessary. 
  • Provide evidence of the impact of his hobby and support for it on his personal well being and feed back to national heritage and well being programmes.

Field notes:

8th October.   I visited Martins who was in the process of clearing up after renewing the permitted development in his garden, comprising a ten meter mast erected with his landlords permission in July of 2017.  (This was free standing and had been moved to a firmer base a couple of feet nearer the center line of the garden.  He positioned a lightweight beam antenna at the top and noted that while a similar configuration was refused planning permission, when we read current guidelines there is nothing to suggest this now requires formal planning permission.  He has a scaffolding tower to work from and shows determination despite his disability. Showing the scaffolding and antenna in its resting position from 50m which is well blended with the background and under the skyline.

Community cohesion.  During this visit Martins demonstrated excellent community cohesion by addressing a West African friend in person in impeccable French.  Also a cheerful exchange with a local friend who he shares time and interests with, in the local community.  There is no doubt he is developing a good deal of respect in the local community he joined in March 2017.  Martin’s was supported by a young man who lives nearby to get the antenna in place – the son of a friend who lives local.

Incidents. Negative experiences. It was depressing to see that within ten minutes of completing the construction and standing back to take in the actual visual impact  – a council worker turned up to take photographs – “to be reported back to the council for their action” he says.  Martins was visibly depressed by this.  I certainly found the speed at which this happened a touch intimidating and wondered if Armando was on a “watch list”. A friend said he wondered if he was under CCTV Surveillance. We are just waiting to see what happens next, if anything.

9th October.  Call from Martins – tests show antenna not working.  Arranged fault finding trip – scaffolding back up.  No adverse impact noted.

12th October.  With Martins.  Tested Antenna – identified problems and resolved them.  Both very satisfied.  Me with fault finding skills and Martins with the result.  Later received phone call.  Antenna tested in contact with Portugal (Martins home country) – Good signals.  A very satisfying result for him and me.

Stuart Dixon FRSA

Anti-social behaviour ‘nightmare’ ignored, says report – BBC News

We asked one of our case studies (case study No 2) to comment on the BBC’s recent report about the Victims Commissioner, Baroness Newlove and her findings on Anti-Social Behaviour which we welcome today.

Case Study 2 said “As a victim of Low level Anti-Social behaviour I get completely what Baroness Newlove is saying in her report. When I found out just how difficult it was to get a response from public services I decided to test all of them and keep the correspondence as evidence. I also studied high profile cases such as that of the late Fiona Pilkington who spectacularly brought anti social behaviour to the attention of the world in 2007 by killing herself and her daughter out of desperation at their unmitigated treatment by yobs in the neighborhood.

While racking my brains how to get a nightmare neighbour off my back I had to really work hard to study how I had become a victim. I became an expert by experience, enduring over a hundred incidents where I concluded that I physically had to confront the perpetrator myself in order to get “the agencies” referred to in the baroness’ report to respond. The police wasted countless hours sending two person patrols to cover these incidents and each time explained there was nothing they could do. I reported diligently to the police the multiple instances of outrageous insulting behaviour by a deranged and sadistic neighbour who was responsible for turning my back yard into a battle ground, and our neighborhood into a place of fear for my family, and inciting others against us. I tried to engage the community safety unit at Gravesham Council – eventually attempting to invoke the community trigger without success. I bear mental scars from the torment of this nightmare neighbour and he cost me approximately £200K in lost opportunities and devalued my home. When he went to court for assault he received a conditional discharge, but it was clear to me he had been stalking and harassing me for over twenty five years. No matter how I put this to the police they were incapable of taking it in. The CPS refused to acknowledge this and left me to complain to the police. Guess what? the Police investigating were the same police who I was complaining about”.

Here at Toxic Lives we agree, Britain is a lawless state which has de-skilled its public services. These now operate behind a rosy fascade of loveliness, gripped in a culture of denial – supported by the BBC and Press. (The BBC Reports today that the Local Government Association said its members do their best). We found that the Ombudsman is part of a complaint system which repeatedly states its case by shrugging its shoulders on behalf of the “services” instead of turning genuine complaints into service improvements.

None of this is acceptable of course, and for the Police Sergeant and Inspector who told Case Study No 2 that it wasn’t in the public interest to prosecute his nightmare neighbour the first time he was assaulted – but they work diligently to support people as a result of Fiona Pilkington – shame on you.

The police and their political masters need to get real. Our police and council workers need support and independent monitoring to do their job so they can stop all levels of crime.

We look to the police and not private agencies to achieve this, but of course you can now buy the type of support needed to beat this – if you have the money. Lets hope the commissioner is given the teeth to make some really biting social change for ordinary people who are being killed by sadistic, psychopathic, criminal neighbours while being ignored by community safety teams.

Stuart Dixon FRSA

Source: Anti-social behaviour ‘nightmare’ ignored, says report – BBC News

Novichock – a Persistent Poison with similarities to Toxic Behaviour

A golden moment in the life of the toxic mind is scoring a hit. Bearing in mind toxic people are out to poison their victim I have called this short article Novichock in the name of the persistent nerve agent used in Salisbury in 2018 which after it crippled its intended victim, went on to kill and seriously injure more people.

The same can be said about toxic behaviour. One of the better known and easier hidden characteristics of the toxic mind is the ability to network and engage others in meeting their aims. This enables tyranny – ruling by fear, by victimising people who stand up for themselves.

Should the victim become a complainer for example, or challenge the “rules” he or she could easily find him or herself in more difficulty having been framed, judged and sentenced without ever knowing what is going on.

Once word gets around that a “misdemeanor” has been committed, no matter how true or false, victims will find themselves unable to work with colleagues who shun them, no longer colaborate and\or actively block their goals. They will find themselves bearing the guilt and shame, and in the community excluded from social situations.

Abuse of Power

Given that toxic people have this characteristic and when they also have power, its safe to say the victim will be treated differently to others, once he or she raises a voice in defence of a friend or colleague or makes a complaint about his or her own treatment.

The toxic mind may be the controller of services and responsible for invoking penalties for example. Once word gets round, no matter how guilty the victim is or what the truth of the matter is, the services become difficult to access and the penalties come harder. They can apply to the victim, where others are allowed leeway.

The Golden Moment

That golden moment mentioned at the start of the article is the pleasure of being able to damage the victim and brag about it afterwards.

The fear this brings to people is difficult to ignore as the damage is emotional, and the injury hidden.

Further reading:

Secret Council Black Lists A report from the Daily Mail.

Council Services under Pressure In this situation council workers are deciding which services to deliver and to whom.

Empathy

This week I feel for one of our elderly case studies who has an open complaint about the way he has been treated by workers at Canterbury City Council. Within a minute of coming to the attention of a council worker for unloading his disabled wife’s scooter in a no loading zone, he was handed a ticket. When he challenged the ticket, by explaining the circumstances the official he was talking to said “I could do something, but you’re the guy thats taking the council to court”.

This also makes me think there isn’t an ounce of kindness in the way he has been treated. Something government are well aware of.

Stuart Dixon

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 gauge success with reasonable confidence, and 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, as described above, and people who come to work expecting to be treated fairly and have satisfying and rewarding jobs will struggle mentally in alternative management systems because of their different characteristics. Briefly 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.  


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.  

In January 2019 the victim received a visit at night from two officers from Kent Police asking what was going on with his neighbour and for him to comment on her mental state. The purpose of the visit was vague although the victim links this with previous threats and false accusations.

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

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