Bell Developments Presentation

Waiting for an internal review by Cheshire West and Chester Council of their handling of this request.

Dear Cheshire West and Chester Council,

With respect to the presentation made by Bell Developments (NW) Ltd on 13 March 2012 at HQ Building about the proposed Student Village, please advise:-

1. Who issued the invitation and when it was originally made.

2. The names/position of the original invitees, prior to the meeting being opened to include all councillors, and those included on the final invitee list. For all council officers, please list their positions within the authority.
*Please supply copies of ALL the relevant emails or other communications inviting councillors and others to attend this meeting. Please ensure that these are dated to show when officers were first invited.
*If any are subject to commercial confidentiality, then please supply the sender, recipients, subject and dates of those emails.

3. Who booked (person, party &/or organisation) the room in which the meeting was originally planned and, if different, actually held.

4. The dates of the relevant booking(s).

5. A reading of Section 18d of the Council’s Protocol appears to confirm that such opportunities should be confined to the period before lodgement of the planning application. Please confirm whether this is, or is not, the case.

6. If not, please provide instances of occasions when Developers have been invited to make such a presentation after the application has been submitted and validated. In any such case, please provide full details, including the date, planning application reference and whether the meeting was open to all councillors, or just to select groups - and, if so, which.

Regards
N. Siddle

Cheshire West and Chester Council

RE: Your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Case Reference: 101000300024

Dear Mr Siddle

Thank you for your email. It will be treated as a request within the meaning of the Act: this means that we will send you a full response within 20 working days, either supplying you with the information which you want, or explaining to you why we cannot supply it. If we need any further clarification or there is any problem we will be in touch.

In the meantime if you wish to discuss this further please contact me. It would be helpful if you could quote the log number 300024.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Timms
FOI Unit
Solutions Team
Cheshire West and Chester Council

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FOI West, Cheshire West and Chester Council

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  • Attachment

    Planning Briefing Student Village 13 March.html

    2K Download

Dear N Siddle

 

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I am
able to provide you with the following response.

 

1.       Who issued the invitation and when it was originally made.

 

Invite to all Councillors sent by Penny Housley 9 March.

    

2.       The names/position of the original invitees, prior to the meeting
being opened to include all councillors, and those included on the final
invitee list. For all council officers, please list their positions within
the authority. *Please supply copies of ALL the relevant emails or other
communications inviting councillors and others to attend this

meeting. Please ensure that these are dated to show when officers were
first invited. *If any are subject to commercial confidentiality, then
please supply the sender, recipients, subject and dates of those emails.

 

Invite sent to all Councillors, Fiona Edwards and Simon Goacher.  Copy
attached.

 

3.       Who booked (person, party &/or organisation) the room in which
the meeting was originally planned and, if different, actually held.

 

G1 was originally booked for the Conservative Group Caucus from 6pm –
booking made by Modern Apprentice, date unknown.  Penny Housley called HQ
reception on 9 March to book the room from 5pm (to allow for any set up
etc) and explained that the next meeting would be on arising of the
briefing and would not require any change in set up.  Reception must have
misunderstood as they simply extended the original booking.

    

4.       The dates of the relevant booking(s).

 

9 March 2012

    

5.       A reading of Section 18d of the Council’s Protocol appears to
confirm that such opportunities should be confined to the period before
lodgement of the planning application. Please confirm whether this is, or
is not, the case.

 

The protocol covers presentations both before and after an application has
been submitted e.g. see paragraph 3.2 and 3.3 which refers to “applicants”

    

6.       If not, please provide instances of occasions when Developers
have been invited to make such a presentation after the application has
been submitted and validated. In any such case, please provide full
details, including the date, planning application reference and whether
the meeting was open to all councillors, or just to select groups - and,
if so, which.

 

RRS application:

09/02430/WAS - Proposed Waste Treatment Plant Comprising Reception Hall,
Materials Recovery Facility, Advanced Conversion Technical Facility, Power
Generation and Export Facility, Change of Use of Existing office building
to Office Accommodation, Welfare Facility, Visitor and Education Centre,
Landscaping and Revised Parking and Internal Site Access Arrangements for
Retained Industrial Building.

 

This was validated on 19 Nov 2009.

 

The RSS presentation was on Monday 7 Dec 2009 and was open to all
councillors.

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request a review by writing to:

 

Solutions Team

Cheshire West and Chester Council

HQ

58 Nicholas Street

Chester

CH1 2NP

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

 

The Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45

Website: [1]www.ico.gov.uk

 

There is no charge for making an appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Caroline Timms

FOI Unit – Solutions Team

Cheshire West and Chester Council

 

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Dear Cheshire West and Chester Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Cheshire West and Chester Council's handling of my FOI request 'Bell Developments Presentation'.

It is not clear from your response as to when the original meeting was arranged. You refer to a booking made by 'Modern Apprentice', which I assume is some sort of diary-ing software - if so, it should be possible to say when and by whom the booking was made, before Penny Housley's email was sent on 9th March to all Councillors.

In response to point 5, you say:-
'The protocol covers presentations both before and after an application has been submitted e.g. see paragraph 3.2 and 3.3 which refers to “applicants”'

I have read the relevant paragraphs (incidentally, there are three paragraphs labelled '3.2' and one labelled '3.3'. All come under the general heading:-
'3.0 Pre-Application Discussions'. Nowhere does this suggest that any discussions should be allowed 'post-application'.

There seems to be deliberate obfuscation about what presentations are allowed and when. For the sake of clarity, 'Pre-' is a prefix meaning 'before' (in time, place, order,degree, or importance)and 'Application' is a formal request to an authority. Therefore a presentation made after submission of the application but before determination is an abuse of process and should not have been allowed. If you disagree with my interpretation of the protocol I would welcome your explanation(or if you have other documents which support your interpretation, I would be grateful for a copy).

I would believe it to be an abuse of process for Councillors to be invited to such an important meeting with such short notice. If this is, in fact normal, perhaps you could furnish me with two or three recent examples of a similar nature.

Regards

N Siddle

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

Yours faithfully,

N.Siddle

FOI West, Cheshire West and Chester Council

Dear N Siddle

Further to your email dated 16 April 2012. A panel has been convened comprising of an officer from legal services and a tier 4 manager who will conduct the internal review on Wednesday 25 April. The chair of the panel will write to you following the review with their findings.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Timms
FOI Unit
Cheshire West and Chester Council

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Dear FOI West,
I am assuming that the promised review took place as I have heard nothing to the contrary. I would be grateful if you would please advise the outcome of the review. Whilst I still require an answer to each of the points raised, I would be grateful if you would pay specific attention to the issue raised of the definition of 'pre-application' and the distinction between it and 'pre-determination'.

Yours sincerely,

N.Siddle

Dear FOI West,
I am still awaiting a response to my note of 10th May complaining about the lack of feedback from the Internal Review.
Please advise when I can expect this. If I do not receive a prompt response, I shall refer the matter to the Information Commissioner as I feel that being kept waiting over 5 weeks for the results of the review is unacceptable.

Yours sincerely,

N.Siddle

FOI West, Cheshire West and Chester Council

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Dear Mr Siddle

It would appear that there has been some confusion and the decision notice for this case has not been sent to you. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

RE: Your request for an internal review under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Cheshire West and Chester Council has now conducted a review and the decision is upheld for the reasons as indicated in the attached document.

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45
Website: www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Please do let me know whether you wish to proceed with your request.

Yours sincerely

David P Finlay
The Solutions Team
HQ Building
4th floor
Chief Executives Office
Te: 01244-972235

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Dear FOI West,
Your internal review report is less than helpful in helping me determine who did what, when and on whose authority. In your conclusion 8.1, you advise that the ‘reference to a modern apprentice is not a reference to the Council’s diary software’. Thank you for that confirmation. However, you then say that ‘The Modern Apprentice made the booking for the Conservative Caucus’, without any explanation as to who or what ‘The Modern Apprentice’ is. It was because you had capitalised it that I assumed it was a system rather than a person. Please advise exactly what or who this ‘Modern Apprentice’ is and who is responsible for it.

In pp 8.5, you advise that the ‘commonly adopted code of conduct issued by the Local Government Association (which flowed from the Nolan Committee recommendations and subsequent advice from the LGA) refers to pre application discussions in Part 7. Paragraph 7.5 reads “although the term “pre application” discussion has been used, the same considerations apply to any discussions which take place before a decision is made’. I have been unable to locate this document on-line and would be grateful if you could advise me where to find it (or attach a copy to your response). It seems to me that the comment about pre-decision (as opposed to pre-application) discussions are likely to be qualified in some way which is not evident in your response.

Finally, you advise that the diary booking for the Bell Development briefing was arranged by a telephone call to the Reception desk at HQ Building by Penny Housley, without explaining who she is or her role. I now understand that she is a Senior Manager in the Scrutiny and Overview team which, to my mind, makes it even more difficult to understand why she thought that a mere two working day’s notice of such a meeting to the non-Conservative Councillors would be acceptable for such an important meeting. It is clear from the information you have provided on other meetings that this is not the norm. It seems – from the copy email advising of the meeting – that Councillors were not consulted about their potential availability for the meeting – simply presented with the short-notice invitation. As you advise in pp 8.9, I shall raise this through the complaints procedure question (even though, according to the CWAC website, it is quite obvious that this should have been done by you despite not falling under the FOI remit (I quote:- An expression of dissatisfaction about a council service [whether that service is provided by the council or by a contractor or partner] that requires a response. There is no difference between a "formal" and an "informal" complaint. Both are expressions of dissatisfaction that require a response. Sometimes members of the public may complain without describing their communications as a complaint. It is important that these are not overlooked). Given that both FOI and Complaints are both dealt with by the same CWAC Solutions team, I am again left with the impression of being made to jump through hoops to get at what should be quite straightforward information.

Yours sincerely,

N.Siddle

Peter Harrison left an annotation ()

If I were you, I'd complain to the ICO.

N.Siddle left an annotation ()

I have now sent a letter to the Council's own Complaints Team (which happens to be the same section that deals with the FOI requests) to try and get a response to my charge of 'abuse of process'. I believe that they are just being as difficult as possible, but feel that I have to jump through this hoop before I can refer the broader issue of inadequate response to the ICO.

N Siddle

N.Siddle left an annotation ()

I received a letter from CWaC in October 2012 but forgot to update this post. In it they FINALLY name the Councillor who originated the original request.
They also say (in response to my assertion that the document 'Probity in Planning' indicates that notes and records should have been made) "It is not possible to know how it was that no record was made of the representation".
They then say that if I am dissatisfied with the response, I am entitled to refer it to the LGO.
I will be doing this as part of my complaint to the LGO about Queen's Park High School (see my other outstanding FOIs )