COVID grant funding for picnic benches and planning consent

Daniel Morris made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire

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Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire,

At the Wellbeing, Community Engagement and Events Committee Meeting, held remotely on 27 May 2021, the Clerk/RFO "reiterated" (on numerous occasions) that the picnic benches that had been bought from COVID recovery grant funding were in storage as (named) businesses had failed to apply for planning permission to site the benches at various locations in town.

Please can you confirm:
a) How much did the benches cost?
b) How much grant money has been received for these benches?
c) When were the benches delivered to the Town Council?
d) When were the "businesses" informed that they needed to apply for planning consent from Carmarthenshire County Council to site the benches?
e) Whether the Town Clerk/RFO is now in receipt of regular planning notices from Carmarthenshire County Council, as a statutory consultee? Please provide all planning application reference numbers and the dates of notices received since 16 November 2020.

With reference to point (e), the Council (and members of press and public in attendance) will recall that the mysterious absence of planning notices throughout 2020 was raised as a concern by the sole Independent Councillor in November 2020. The Clerk/RFO was instructed to contact Carmarthenshire County Council to find out why/resolve.

Yours faithfully,

D Morris

Clerk, Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire

Dear Mr Morris,

The response to your FOI is listed below: -

a) How much did the benches cost? - £4,328.00 +VAT
b) How much grant money has been received for these benches? - £3,768.49
c) When were the benches delivered to the Town Council? - 25 February 2021
d) When were the "businesses" informed that they needed to apply for planning consent from Carmarthenshire County Council to site the benches? - September 2020
e) Whether the Town Clerk/RFO is now in receipt of regular planning notices from Carmarthenshire County Council, as a statutory consultee? Please provide all planning application reference numbers and the dates of notices received since 16 November 2020. - Under Section 14 of the FOI it is considered that a disproportionate amount of resources would have to be spent in order to deal with point e of your request.
The Town Council is now receiving planning notices.

Yours sincerely,
Duncan Morgan

Duncan Morgan
Town Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer/Clerc Y Dref a Swyddog Cyllid Cyfrifol
Ammanford Town Council/Cyngor Tref Rhydaman
Iscennen Road/Heol Iscennen
Ammanford/Rhydaman
Carmarthenshire/Sir Gaerfyrddyn
SA18 3BE
Email: [Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire request email]
Tel 01269 839570 option 9 followed by 667

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire's handling of my FOI request 'COVID grant funding for picnic benches and planning consent'.

For part (e) I requested:

"Please provide all planning application reference numbers and the dates of notices received since 16 November 2020".

This request was made in light of the curious observation that *no* planning applications had been considered, in public, by the Council since then.

The sole independent Councillor raised the matter on 16 November 2020, according to the current version of the *Draft* Minutes (as published on ATC website today):

EJ - Commented that there had been many other planning applications submitted over the
period ATC had not met and which therefore we had not considered.
DSM - Confirmed he was not aware of these.
SD – Stated that ATC needs to have official letter from CCC regarding planning applications
and check that we receive all emails.

The ICO advises that "Public authorities must keep in mind that meeting their underlying commitment to transparency and openness may involve absorbing a certain level of disruption and annoyance". Such openness and transparency would include considering planning applications within the Town's catchment, even where such applications have been made with the involvement of Town/County Councillors or would be/have been to the benefit of Councillors' close family.

If Carmarthenshire County Council have been sending planning notices electronically then it is just a matter of hitting <CTRL> <F> and searching the Council's email store (noting the binding instructions from the ICO previously, in many IN & DN, to comply with the model data retention policy). Members of the public would also be greatly reassured to know that emails are getting through, as some complained they couldn't apply for the COVID business support grant as the address listed on Carmarthenshire's website was wrong, nearly a thousand people had to register their dissent regarding the maintenance of the park on a Facebook page when the Council wasn't operating the "concerns@..." email address (ordered by the PSOW investigation and second fine) and members of the public were blocked from joining/observing numerous town council meetings as the Clerk/RFO had too many n's in the email address provided in the statutory summons/public notice.

A search of the Council's email store shouldn't take very long - a few minutes at most.

Please provide evidence behind your assessment if you continue to hold that a "disproportionate amount of resources would have to be spent in order to deal with point e of your request".

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Yours faithfully,

D Morris

Clerk, Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire

Dear Mr Morris,

Further to internal review being undertaken.

Ammanford Town Council has limited resources to deal with a request of this nature as at the time of the original FOI only employed one member of staff.

From your request "Please provide all planning application reference numbers and the dates of notices received since 16 November 2020".
To provide application reference numbers and dates of notices would be deemed as being an unreasonable request as for the period in question there have been over 800 applications received.

Yours sincerely,
Duncan Morgan

Duncan Morgan
Town Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer/Clerc Y Dref a Swyddog Cyllid Cyfrifol
Ammanford Town Council/Cyngor Tref Rhydaman
Iscennen Road/Heol Iscennen
Ammanford/Rhydaman
Carmarthenshire/Sir Gaerfyrddyn
SA18 3BE
Email: [Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire request email]
Tel 01269 839570 option 9 followed by 667

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd Daniel Morris anodiad ()

Magic maths at work here again.

20 applications sent (and disclosed) by Carmarthenshire County Council amounts to less than 4% of Section 14 claimed "over 800" and CCC confirmed:

"The Clerk to Ammanford Town Council automatically receives Statutory Consultee notices for every application in their area, via Arcus (Planning Services' back office system). We are advised by Planning Services that the sending of notices to Ammanford Town Council via this method did not cease."

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Gadawodd Daniel Morris anodiad ()

Typo, I meant <3% (2.22-2.5%)