Does Oxford City Council planning department refuse requests?

Mike Magee made this Freedom of Information request to Oxford City Council

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The request was successful.

Dear Oxford City Council,

Local residents in Mill Street have, over the last two months have asked councillors Susanna Pressel and Colin Cook about the state of sewage in Mill Street and environs. My questions are:

1. Does the planning department respond to councillors' requests?
2. Is the planning department an autonomous body and so doesn't have to listen to our elected representatives?
3. Who or which authority appoints the head of planning departments in Oxford?
4. What was the annual bill for staff working in the planning department of Oxford City Council between 2018-2019?
5. Does the Oxford planning department submit yearly accounts, accessible by the common public?

Yours faithfully,

Mike Magee

freedomofinformation, Oxford City Council

Dear Mr Magee,

Oxford City Council – Reference:9367

Thank you for your email below. Your request was received on 31st July 2020 and you will be sent a response within 20 working days (of receipt) in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000/ Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), subject to the information not being exempt or containing reference to a third party.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recognises the unprecedented challenges all are facing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In particular they understand that resources, whether they are finances or people, may be diverted away from usual compliance or information rights work. Whilst the ICO can’t extend statutory timescales, they will not be penalising public authorities for prioritising other areas or adapting their usual approach during this extraordinary period.

Therefore while the Council will make every effort to comply with the Statutory Requirements you may experience understandable delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic.

Yours sincerely

Kathryn Winfield
Freedom of Information Officer 

Kathryn Winfield | Freedom of Information Officer | Oxford City Council | Law and Governance |
St. Aldate's Chambers | Oxford | OX1 1DS | Email: [email address] | T: 01865 252007
My working days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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freedomofinformation, Oxford City Council

Dear Mr Magee,
 
Oxford City Council – Reference:9367
 
Further to the acknowledgement below, I can respond to your Freedom of
Information Act 2000 request received on 31^st July 2020 as follows:
 
1. Does the planning department respond to councillors' requests?-Yes
 
2. Is the planning department an autonomous body and so doesn't have to
listen to our elected representatives?
The planning department is part of the council. Depending on what is being
asked of planning will depends on what the constitutions indicates if the
powers have been delegated to officers to make decisions on behalf of the
council but also depending what the law and regulations indicated
regarding a specific matter.  Officers always listen to members but it
will depend on what is being asked of officers and if they have the powers
to help or can address a specific matter.
 
3. Who or which authority appoints the head of planning departments in
Oxford?
The power to appoint a Head of Planning Services resides with the Chief
Executive or the relevant Executive Director (currently the Executive
Director of Development). The Council's Constitution (Part 5.15) states:
 
"...The Chief Executive, Assistant Chief Executive or any Executive
Directors can appoint Heads of Service and put in place arrangements for
staffing including redesign, restructures and allocation of
responsibilities. The Assistant Chief Executive and Executive Directors
can only make such arrangements subject to budget approval in relation to
their own areas of responsibility....".
 
The proposed appointment of a Head of Planning Services would be subject
to the Employment Rules set out in Part 20.6 of the Constitution.
 
4. What was the annual bill for staff working in the planning department
of Oxford City Council between 2018-2019?
Under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Council is
not required to respond to requests where the information sought is
reasonably accessible by other means.   Information in respect of budgets
can be found on the Council’s website via the following link:
[1]https://www.oxford.gov.uk/downloads/file...
 
5. Does the Oxford planning department  submit yearly accounts, accessible
by the common public?
Yes
 
If you disagree with any part of the response to your request, you are
entitled to ask the Council for an internal review of the decision(s)
made.  You may do this by writing to the Monitoring Officer, by either
email – [2][email address] – or by post to Monitoring Officer,
Oxford City Council, St Aldate’s Chambers, St Aldate’s, Oxford, OX1 1DS. 
After the result of the internal review, if you remain dissatisfied, you
may ask the Information Commissioner to intervene on your behalf.  You may
do this by writing to the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Kathryn Winfield
Freedom of Information Officer 
 
Kathryn Winfield | Freedom of Information Officer | Oxford City Council |
Law and Governance |
St. Aldate's Chambers | Oxford | OX1 1DS | Email:
[3][email address] | T: 01865 252007
My working days are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays
 
 
 

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