RAB  -  RAF  -  RAOS  -  

If you have asked a government official a question and received a reply and at the end of reading the reply you realise that something is missing, that something being the answer to the question you asked. You should go back and check to see if you have been a victim to RA deception. 

RA deception is commonly used in corrupt government organisations. It is an effective method which helps corrupt officials to avoid accountability for their corrupt actions.

RA = 

REFERENCE - An official will reference the subject/question.

 AVOID giving a relevant answer


There are different types of RA deception which can be used to create different outcomes for a different variety of reasons, Some RA deceptions are blatantly obvious while others can be extremely subtle and difficult to spot.


Government officials using methods of RA deception are breaching the Nolan Principles 1.5 and 1.6.

"1.5 Openness - Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.

1.6 Honesty - Holders of public office should be truthful."

Quite simply, if government officials are avoiding answering relevant questions then they are not being open and transparent. If they using methods of deception to avoid providing the answer to a relevant question then they are not being truthful. 

If they are breaking the Nolan Principles then they are corrupt. We believe RA deception to be both Physical and Moral Corruption





REFERENCE - An official will reference the question.

 AVOID giving a relevant answer

BLOCK, BUCK PASS OR BOTH - Block any further correspondence, pass the buck to another department or complaints process or do both together.

The NPTC Planning Development Manager, Steve Ball is a classic exponent of this type of deception. Here are some examples contained in his correspondence from a planning application to which we were objecting.

Example 1 - After a series of emails in which the official avoided answering relevant questions we finally narrowed down our question terminology so that he had to use RAB deception to avoid accountability for a member of his department breaking the planning rules.

In an email dated 1/4/2020 we asked the question (CLICK HERE FOR THIS EMAIL)

Are you allowed to put planning notices on private property without first requesting the permission of the owner of the property?. (question)

In his reply dated 2/4/2020 the official replied: (CLICK HERE FOR THIS EMAIL)

I note that you have been sending in many emails recently on the above application, including requests for information. I responded to one myself yesterday about the site notice on a telegraph pole on your property to which you have sent a further response and question. (question referenced)

(The body of the email failed to answer the question and also avoided other previously asked questions. It provided irrelevant information (question avoided) to the questions asked and there was a subtle block at the end:) He continues........ 

I trust that you will be understanding of the above, and note that I am copying in both of your local Councillors so that they are aware of my stance on this matter, and so they understand that we must concentrate our resources during this challenging period on all applications and other matters before the Authority. (blocked - in an email dated 9/4/2020 he clarifies this statement as a blockage)


In an email dated 2/4/2020 (ignored) and again dated 7/4/2020 

Example 2 - To request if NPTC has to follow guidelines, protocols or regulations relating to the building of houses on landfill or brownfield sites ? If so I would be pleased to receive this information? 

The reason we asked this question is because the development site had been misrepresented on all relevant literature. It had for the majority of the previous 80 years been both a domestic (council) and industrial landfill site. Surely there were regulations relating to the building on landfill sites that were being avoided through the land's misrepresentation on the Local Development Plan. We had found some regulations which may have been outdated so clarification of the current regulations relating to the building on landfill sites made this question relevant. The fact that the official used RAB deception would suggest that this council are breaking government rules in allowing a developer to build on a landfill site without adhering to the regulations. 


In an email dated 5/4/2020 - We had circumnavigated the blockage of the last email by copying the council leader and the local MP to our questions. The council leader we suspect directed the official to reply. 

The answer to question example 2 was lumped together with the answer for question example 3 in an elaborate attempt to confuse the recipient.

Example 3 - So that we can gauge the quality of your work as a councillor in combination with the planning department please can you both provide evidence of how you worked together to ensure the removal of the land identified as contaminated in 2008 from the same area?

(The reason we asked this question is because there was no evidence that contamination that was identified in 2008 was dealt with or investigated further. The question has been avoided by this official, local councillors and the council leader. Subsequent investigation by our team has found the council hid the contamination by failing to follow the council's Contaminated Land Strategy thereby breaching the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. Being a planning officer, this official is clearly aware of this and as a consequence his avoidance of the question takes on an almost artistic flair. In an attempt to confuse and overwhelm the recipient he lumps together the questions mixes up the answers and avoids giving relevant answers to both questions.)

Development on Brownfield Land / Contaminated Land (reference to both questions) 

In your email of 5th April you state that “the land is shown as contaminated and a danger to local residents” and have also requested “... if NPTC has to follow guidelines, protocols or regulations relating to the building of houses on landfill or brownfield sites?”. You also refer to the 2008 ground investigation which concluded that there was evidence of contamination. (He doesn't answer these questions, in his response below he goes straight into his personal opinions about how common contaminated land is in NPT)

In response, I would wish to emphasise that the presence of contamination on sites is incredibly common on land within Neath Port Talbot, and this matter is routinely addressed in consultation with our specialists on land contamination matters, as well as in responses from Natural Resources Wales (NRW, established in 2013). In this respect it is important to understand that the presence of contamination does not make land “a danger to residents”.

Although I am yet to receive a response to the current application from our specialists, at this stage, and in light of the extant planning permission for development at the site, I see no reason why matters of land contamination cannot be addressed in the usual manner through imposition of conditions.

In terms of your specific question relating to ‘guidelines, protocols or regulations relating to the building of houses on landfill or brownfield sites’, (Avoid landfill question - suggests that the government encourage but no regulation info offered) I would draw your attention to Welsh Government guidance in Planning Policy Wales 10 (pages 37 and 38). In essence these encourage developments on such land, though it does note if land is “highly contaminated” (3.51) it may not be suitable for development.

Our land contamination colleagues also have specific technical guidance they follow when considering the need to remediate and verify works on contaminated land. For example Welsh Government guidance refers to: BS10175 (2011) Investigation of Potentially Contaminated Sites Code of Practice; and the Welsh Local Government Association and the Environment Agency Wales ‘Development of Land Affected by Contamination: A Guide for Developers’ (2012). (Avoid contamination question - 2011 & 2012 documents quoted as opposed to 2008 information about what actually happened to identified contamination)    

(Considering our team are now asking the right questions to uncover the breach of a major UK law the officer emphasises that he will block in future. He also mentions the number of emails the team are sending which is a general theme of his reply, he is attempting to identify the sender as a vexatious complainant so that he can justify the blocking.) 

I also refer specifically to my email to you on 2nd April 2020 which made it clear that due to the number of emails you are sending during a period when we are experiencing challenging circumstances, we will no longer be able to respond to your requests for information or respond to your questions . (Block)


" Seeking and receiving information is a human right that can act as a safeguard against corruption, and increase trust in decision makers and public institutions." 

Transparency International (the global coalition against corruption)




REFERENCE - An official will reference the question.

 AVOID giving a relevant answer

OVERWHELM & SATISFY - Overwhelm with information and a provide satisfactory conclusion.

An interesting variation on the RA deception is the following example. The same planning department have been asked a question by a member of the planning committee (Councillor Stephen K Hunt) that relates to information contained in a document supplied to them prior to a meeting. 


The information contained in the illustration below and supplied in the above document is that a risk assessment was carried out in 2008. The remediation of the land or further investigation was then required as a result of this risk assessment but the plans were withdrawn, the contamination ignored and the document remained hidden in the council archives for the following 12 years. This fails to follow the council's protocols as contained in their Contaminated Land Strategy which aligns itself with the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. In effect, the risk assessment should have been acted upon and it wasn't, which means the author's department are responsible for breaking UK law and if they answer the question truthfully there would be serious consequences for the department. 


96-human-health-7-1-risk-as.gif (510303 bytes)

Let's look at how the author (believed to be either Nicola Lake or Steve Ball) first references, then avoids giving the relevant answer to this question in the amendment sheet circulated to the Planning Committee prior to the meeting.


Firstly they referenced the question 

"Cllr Hunt has asked officers to clarify that they are satisfied that all risk assessments on this site has been covered in the report so that the recommendation carries no harm to those living in the vicinity or any further environmental harm or impact to the community.
He also refers to Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which takes a risk-based approach to defining contaminated land and ask if these points been addressed properly as to any risk assessments on this site:"  

The answer to the highlighted sections in the referenced question are what the author needed to avoid.  

The early part of the answer to the question referenced the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. This placed the answer in the correct historical time zone, however the information provided was generic and not relevant to the question. 

The first clear point of deception is where the author switched to 'Current use'. They moved to an irrelevant chronological period (the present) for the answer to the majority of the rest of the question.

The question asked by the councillor is a historical one looking for specific historical action relating to the information contained in our report (past relevant), but the majority of information the author provides relates to the past generic, present and the future. There are points where they return to the past and add other historical information, but again, this is background generic information and not specific relevant information as included in the EG-RAC report. By the end of his answer to the question about 'risk assessments on the site', we will see that the author has completely avoided providing any information about historical (specific) 'risk assessments on the site'. If we look at the information contained in the RAB deception examples 2 and 3 above we will see that misplacing the time zone is a favourite method of Steve Ball. Using incorrect time zones has helped the author avoid giving the relevant answer.

NOTE - To elaborate, in this case, we are looking for an action relating to a specific risk assessment. There are 8 chronological information provision zones available but only one of those zones offers the opportunity to provide the relevant answer to the question asked. The author of the document has hopped between time zones which not only overwhelmed the reader but offers confusion as well. The more information provided in an answer, the less inclined the reader is to go back and check to see if the question has been answered correctly. In this case 1200 words were used. If you read through the answer you will see that it completely avoids providing information about the 2008 risk assessment. 


Again, if we look at the length of the complete answer, over 1200 words, it is easy to see that the information provided will overwhelm the reader and the inclusion of the Land Contamination Officer's advice is intended to satisfy the planning committee member who has asked the relevant question, together with other committee members who have a duty to read the document. The author can't use RAB here because they are unable to use a block or buck pass method being accountable to a member of the planning committee. As a planning officer, their job is to know the answer to the question so in effect the author needs to be seen to be doing their job. However the correct answer would make them or their work colleagues  accountable for a serious breach of protocol. So instead of providing the correct answer, the author uses a method of overwhelming with information then satisfying with a specialist's advice on current procedural information. 1200 words have been used to answer a simple question but not one relates to the risk assessment below which has been hidden in the council archives for the last 12 years and not acted upon. 

96-human-health-7-1-risk-as.gif (510303 bytes)

If we refer again to the original question:

"He also refers to Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which takes a risk based approach to defining contaminated land and ask if these points had been addressed properly as to any risk assessments on this site:" 


We will see that it has not been answered. It's been............


I would suggest this method should be known as:   





In this variation we see corrupt officials reference the question/subject and avoid giving the correct information by falsifying the answer. We show an example by the Head of Planning and Public Protection who clearly falsifies the relationship between the planning process and the 1990 Environmental Protection Act. - CLICK HERE 



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