Financial irregularities

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.

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

In the report to the Executive Meeting dated 10th March 2008 it states that the floor area of the proposed school at Harcourt Street had increased from 2600m2 to 3185m2 and the cost the Council had decided to use per m2 is £1450. That is an extra 585m2 times £1450 = £848,250, so why have they put the figure at £1.05million? A little further in the report down there is an extra 167m2 to comply with Sport England's demands, which times £1450 is £242,150, so why has the figure been put at £280,000?

I have tried to draw this financial irregularity and others regarding several millions of pounds to the attention of the Executive Councillors and senior council officers at Stockport Council for over two years without success. In accordance with the Council's own Fraud and Financial Irregularities policies if a member of the public raises such issues they should immediately be referred to the Corporate Director of Finance.

Please may I see any documentary evidence showing that Executive Councillors or senior council officers have raised this issue, as they should have done, with the Corporate Director of Finance.

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 2538).

As you have previously been informed, 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 been through the Council's internal review
process and was upheld. It has also been investigated by the Information
Commissioner's Office at your request; the ICO upheld the Council's
decision in its Decision Notice.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Naven

Claire Naven

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

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Dear FOI Officer,

With regards to the alleged vexatious nature of my requests regarding this issue, I would draw your attention to the fact that the Council has recently been forced, because of a public inquiry, to disclose that the site that it proposed to educate 550 babies and young children is indeed extensively contaminated. The Council intended for the school to open in September 2008 and had it not been for my "vexatious" efforts children would now be spending many hours each day on a site contaminated with lead, arsenic and asbestos on which no contamination remediation measures had been carried out. They intended to protect young children from contamination hotspots by means of prickly bushes. The plants would have soaked up the contaminants and lost their prickly leaves, exposing young primary school children to toxic hotspots. The Council knew from records in its own archives, which were drawn to its attention, that the site had been extensively tipped with industrial waste from 1954 to 1974.

In addition the school was to be paid for by £6.69 million of capital receipts and this figure has now been reduced to £1.6 million. Again, in trying to expose that fact I was not, to my mind, being vexatious. The Council will now have to finance the scheme with extensive borrowing at a time of a looming possible £45 million black hole in its budget.

I intend to write now to Mr. Thomas, the Information Commissioner, himself explaining how I have striven to protect these innocent children from the carcingenic effects of being exposed to chemicals likely to bring about incidences of bladder cancer in them

The Director of Children and Young People's Directorate, a man who serves on several important Government think tanks, said it would take 84 hours at £25 per hour plus £300 photocopying costs for a council officer to redact the files regarding this proposed school before I could see them. Request refused not only to me but any other resident in the town or possibly the country. How many secrets can there be for a school development that would take a council officer working full time for almost three weeks to remove them? I wanted no photocopies but just to read the files. I had seen the files in the months previously and just wanted to re-read the files and see any additions. There were about four folders. The Council failed to carry out an independent review of the issue for six months - an unacceptable time frame. Once lifted it then re-introduced the ban which has been in force for possibly three out of the past four years.

All council meeting questions on the subject are also banned, which is an infringement of human rights to question elected representatives.

I am now taking the issue to Mr. Thomas and will keep visitors to this site appraised of developments.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Please see the response below received from the Information Commission 14/01/10. I am obviously not under any ban on asking questions on this subject, despite claims to the contrary by Stockport Council.

"As the specific information you requested from the council in January and February 2008 has now been disclosed, there is nothing further for the Commissioner to do in relation to the above complaint (opened under case reference: FS50205853). However, our closure of this case will not preclude you from submitting further information requests to the council for consideration. Furthermore, if you are unhappy with the response you receive to any such requests you may refer it to the Commissioner for investigation. However, I wouldn’t want to prejudge how the council may respond to you in the future"

I trust this clarifies the position.

Yours sincerely

Michael Warburton

Senior Complaints Officer

Information Commissioner's Office

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Financial irregularities'.

A Senior Complaints Office at the Information Commission stated on 14/01/10 that I could continue to ask questions on this subject. What has Stockport Council got to hide regarding this matter, which is, as one can see from the nature of the question, a very important one?

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

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Oliver

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

I am writing in response to your email below (ref 2538).

As we have previously explained to you on a number of occasions, the
Council has already carried out an internal review of its decision to
refuse all your requests on the subject of Harcourt Street on the grounds
that they are vexatious and manifestly unreasonable. Your subsequent
complaint has also been investigated by the Information Commissioner's
Office which issued a Decision Notice and upheld the Council's decision.
On this basis, the Council will not be carrying out an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Naven

Claire Naven

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

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Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The Council declared me vexatious after I wrote many times to them protesting that a man subsequently proved innocent had been sent to prison as a result of their actions, that they were intending to knowingly build a school on a contaminated site extensively tipped from 1954 to 1974 with industrial waste on which they intended to carry out no contamination remediation whatsoever. They have been forced to admit recently that the site is entirely contaminated with arsenic, lead and asbestos. The school should have opened in September 2008 and 550 children would have been exposed to those chemical dangers. They also were hiding the fact that they were going to have to borrow £5 million for the school, having previously said £6.9 million would be coming from capital receipts and they were hiding the fact that they failed to comply with the law with regards to the compulsory purchase of a strip of land they knew perfectly well was in a householder's garden. They should have held a public inquiry, which they would probably have lost, so they simply took the land.

The Council was told on 14/01/10 by a senior Information Commission complaints officer that I could ask questions on this subject.

I shall be taking this matter to Mr. Thomas, Information Commissioner, himself.

Stockport Council has a lot to conceal, but I shall expose what they are trying to cover up. It doesn't matter how long it takes.

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Financial irregularities'.

Please note that the Information Commission Team Leader has stated
to me in a letter dated 15/2/10:-

... "Notice relates specifically to the request you made on 1st
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 their requests and if
following this review you remain unhappy with their response you
can bring a new complaint to the Commissioner."

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

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Oliver

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

"Council bosses decided NOT to hold a wide-ranging investigation into the death of a boy who died after an asthma attack at school, the MEN can reveal.

Stockport council officials considered carrying out a serious case review into the 11-year-old's death THREE times – but each time decided against.

The news came after an inquest jury found a catalogue of errors and neglect by staff at Offerton High School 'significantly contributed' to Sam's death.

He was left to sit in a corridor after suffering the attack while teachers failed to call an ambulance.

Parents Paul and Karen Linton are now considering legal action against the council.

The M.E.N understands officials in charge of safeguarding Stockport children did not believe the case met the criteria for a full serious case review...."

Manchester Evening News

The same people responsible for the above are the ones refusing to answer questions about this school to be built on toxic waste. The Information Commission has said the next step is to lodge an official complaint with Stockport Council about their refusal to respond, but the Complaints Officer won't even reply.