Financial anomalies - Harcourt Street

Sheila Oliver made this Freedom of Information request to Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

Waiting for an internal review by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council of their handling of this request.

Sheila Oliver

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

Under the Audit Commission Act 1998 Section 15 Inspection of documents and questions at audit it states: - (2) "At the request of a local government elector for any area to which the accounts relate, the auditor shall give the elector, or any representative of his, an opportunity to question the auditor about the accounts."

Audit Commission Act 1998 - Declaration that an item of account is unlawful. I could apply to the courts regarding this and if the Court makes the declaration, then it may also (a) order that any person responsible for incurring or authorising expenditure declared unlawful shall repay it in whole or in part to the body in question and, where there are two or more such persons, that they shall be jointly and severally liable to do so: (b) if the expenditure declared unlawful exceeds £2,000 and the person responsible for incurring or authorising it is, or was at the time of his conduct in question, a member of a local authority, order him to be disqualified for being a member of a local authority for a specified period; and (c) order rectification of the accounts.

I will be persuing this matter to the very end, no matter how many years it takes. I shall be inspecting the Council's accounts regarding this development when they are published as is my legal right. Millons of pounds of council taxpayers' money over and above what a school should cost is being spent, in this case to endanger the lives of 550 primary school children, who may well have asbestos fibres vented into their school building and playground with the escaping landfill gases from this unstable site.

Will the Council now disclose the financial documents pertaining to this issue as per my many requests over the past 3 - 4 years, because if not now, then it will have to at some point in the future with potential financial liability costs/implications for councillors and senior council officers?

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Oliver

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

I am writing in response to your request for information below (ref 3019).

As you have previously been informed, all your requests for information
about Harcourt Street are considered to be vexatious under section 14(1)
Freedom of Information Act 2000 and manifestly unreasonable under
Regulation 12(4)(b) Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and will
not receive a response. This decision has previously been through the
Council's internal review process and was upheld.

You are entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. To
do so, contact:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane





01625 545 745

Yours sincerely,

Claire Naven

Claire Naven

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

show quoted sections

Sheila Oliver

Dear FOI Officer,

In a podcast on the Downing Street website over the weekend, Mr Cameron said: "If there's one thing I've noticed since doing this job, it's how all the information about government - the money it spends, where it spends it, the results it achieves - how so much of it is locked away in a vault marked sort of 'private for the eyes of ministers and officials only'. Francis Maude Cabinet Office minister "I think this is ridiculous. It's your money, your government, you should know what's going on. So we're going to rip off that cloak of secrecy and extend transparency as far and as wide as possible.
"By bringing information out into the open you'll be able to hold government and public services to account."

My local MP, Andrew Stunell LibDem and one of the gang of four who negotiated this ConDem coalition is now junior local government and communities minister.

I shall raise this issue with him and keep this website posted with his response. Either he is in favour of open government, in which case he should take action, or he is keen to cover up what his cohorts have been up to. We shall see.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

On 23 June 2010 the Leader of Stockport Council, Dave Goddard, wrote to me stating: "The committed to continuing to increase the transparency of its activities."

In the light of this, would the Council please reconsider releasing all the information currently being kept secret on the school on the still gassing toxic waste dump?

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Is my local MP Andrew Stunell having a laugh here? I repeatedly
asked him to make Stockport Council reply to questions, which they
have avoided for about four years:-

I shall ask him again for help and post his response, or lack of
it, on this site.

Have a look at this frightening You Tube clip of the brown asbestos
"experts" languidly and unscienficially removing brown asbestos
from the school site:-

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

This is the text from the Information Commission stating you should be answering questions:-


Information Commissioner's Office
Promoting public access to official information and protecting your personal information
15th February 2010
Case Reference Number RCC0296506 / FS50232537 Stockport Borough Council
Dear Mrs Oliver
Thank you for your letter of 7 February 2010. In your letter you state that since the issuing of the Decision Notice in relation to case FS50232537 on 10 November 2009 further evidence has come to light which you feel no proves you are not vexatious. You also state that since the Decision Notice was issued all your subsequent requests for information made to the Council have been refused on the basis that the requests are vexatious.
The Decision Notice found that at the time of your request, which was 1 December 2008, your request was manifestly unreasonable and therefore Stockport Borough Council were correct to refuse to disclose to you the information you requested by virtue of 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations. All Decision Notice must consider the circumstances at the time the request was made and cannot take into account circumstances that post date the request. If you are unhappy with the findings of the Decision Notice you should appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights). Any appeal should be lodged with the Tribunal within 28 days of the date of the Decision Notice. The contact details for the Tribunal are found at the bottom of the Decision Notice.
In relation to your second point, that the Council are now refusing all your requests for information on the basis that they are vexatious, the Decision Notice relates specifically to the request you made on the 1 December 2008 and does not make any finding regarding future requests. If you have made further requests and these have been refused you should ask the Council to review the requests and if following this review you remain unhappy with their response you can bring a new complaint to the Commissioner.
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF t:0845 630 6060 f:01625 524510

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

On December 20th the Council puts the budget constraint at £5,796,649.00:-


2 Ist January 2005 — Request for m2 cost for single storey building including
additional foundations from Julie Moran. The cost based on a floor area of 2SOOm2. As attached nfiP^n^Ll • R^te based on Brmdale and updated to 3QOS with no addition for Part L.
26th January 2005- Andy MacKenzies e-mail sent to Julie Moran sets
out figures but excludes all external works , football pitches , tennis courts , drainage , highway improvements , environmental measures , design
I 2th December 2005- First estimate including the items omitted. Note
area increased from the original 2£00m2 to 3443m2. An increase of 643m2.
First Meeting with the Childrens Centre Sub - Group 5th December 2005to determine the details for the scheme.
Fauber Munsell commissioned to commence work on traffic January/ February 2006 with report for April 2006
Topographical commissioned December 2005
Ground investigation to start January 2006 with gas monitoring for 6 months.
Initial Brief received prior to PID 6/1 2 20O5.
PID produced and the brief received 30th December 2005 with constraints and budget fixed m the item 2.3.4 at £5,796,649.00.

Subsequent costs :
Increase costs to landscape
Additional Part L regs
Electric and telephone
Sewer connection

236995.00 I 00000.00 362,200.00 20,000.00 10,000.00


Yet the Council knew on 12/12/2005 that the cost was £7.5 million:-



12-Dec-05 2:03 PM

Classroom areas 203 m2
Offices/meeting rooms 111 m2
External covered area 60 m2
Outdoor storage 15 m2
Basic teaching 1131 m2
ICT/food tech/science/group/D<S(T 92 m2
Halls 291 m2
Learning resource/library/SEN/group/sensory 157 m2
Admin and staff 220 m2
Storage 253 m2
Kitchen 71 m2
Toilets 133 m2
Circulation 565 m2
Plant 47 m2
Partitions 94 m2
Total New School Area (includes w«lims) 3443 m2 1650.00 5680950.00
New road 2000 m2 70.00 140000.00
Nature area 725 m2 25.00 18125.00
Hard play area 1190 m2 35.00 41650.00
Sames court 1650 m2 40.00 66000.00
Playing fields 2120 m2 6.00 12720.00
Security fence 550 m2 120.00 66000.00
Sates 3 Nr 1500.00 4500.00
c Item 45000.00
Tarmac area 185 m2 35.00 6475.00
Safety surface 185 m2 60.00 11100.00
Grass/nature trai 1 185 m2 25.00 4625.00
Equipment Item 20000.00
Fencing (1.00m high) 130 m 60.00 7800.00
6as supply Item 10000.00
Electric supply Item 10000.00
Telephone Item 10000.00
Water supply Item 10000.00
New sewer and connection pipework Item 10000.00
Abnormal foundations (piling) Item 100000.00
Site drainage 8240 m2 12.00 98880.00
Building drainage 3443 m2 10.00 34430.00
Preliminaries on external works Item 145000.00
Total Contingencies say 6553255.00 318000.00
Total Build Cost
OTHER COSTS 6871255.00
Newt survey Item 1000.00
Ground investigation Item 23000.00
Traffic survey Item 25000.00
Topographical survey "tern 5000.00
Planning consultant Item 15000.00
Planning fees Item 12500.00
Property survices fees Item 550000.00
BUII&IN6 WORK TOTAL 7502755.00


Why am I vexatious for questioning why an at-the-outset overspend of £2 million on a scheme supposedly costing £5.5 million was not flagged up?

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Funding shortfall of £2.40 million at the exact time you were banning my questions as unreasonable and vexatious:-


<Proj«ct Number. <Prp»ect Name>
Htqhllghf Reoort for period from 15 May 2006 to 27 July 2006
At the "vUfMttof at ffw beginning of this report jw wHt have nfficated. In temu of Red,
Amto <y Green, ite status of each of those items below, tntitfs section of the raport you are
expected to provide supplementary informttton on those Hems Hut ha we status other than
Gnen. ' -_ -
Brief Description of Status
Currently delayed by three months due to delays on the critical path by consultants and the planning application process.


Current estimate of scheme costs Is circa £2.40M over the available funding.
This difference cannot be designed out on the proposed site and therefore the project is undeliverable unless additional funding is sought
This figure is based on the current approximate cost plans that are to be re-estimated in greater detail following the design freeze.
When known this figure will be reported as a'Commft to
invest1 form to Instruct further design works etc.
No resource problems

Planning permission. Risk of project failure if application is rejected but this is being managed by the appointment of GVA Grimley and a thorough consultation process.
Possible risk of the consultation process raising issues that could delay the project if a redesign of a particular aspect Is required.
Funding shortfall will lead to ultimate project failure if not addressed - i.e. unable to enter Into contract
Possible risk of the CPO faifing. This should not however be terminal for the project as the drainage issue may be resolved by other means and the site access is possible under our current ownership.

Project: <PrqfKt number*

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Date Produced: <Date>
Author <Name or Author*
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