Full Details of BMBC's Contract (from start to finish) with Arup for Commissioning & Providing a Green Belt Review in 2014

John Earnshaw made this Freedom of Information request to Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

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

Dear Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 request to Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council concerning the Green Belt Review, as carried out by Ove Arup

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
In November 2013, after a formal tendering procedure, BMBC commissioned Ove Arup to produce and publish two Green Belt Reviews -
(i) Barnsley Green Belt Review – Approach and Method Report – dated November 2014
and
(ii) Barnsley Green Belt Review – Green Belt: Urban Barnsley and Royston – dated August 2014
- to be produced in time and ready for the emerging Draft Consultation Barnsley Local Plan (BLP), which was originally programmed to go out to public consultation in June 2014.
Prior to this date, BMBC had sought applications from suitably qualified consultants to carry out their Green Belt Review, so they compiled a tender document which they (BMBC) called 'THE BRIEF', which outlined the terms and conditions of the proposed contract, including 'particular instructions & requirements'.

A few days before the BLP Examination of Stage 2 of the Green Belt (MM6) by Sarah Houseden, HM Government Planning Inspector on Wednesday, 19th July 2017, some small print was noticed on each of the front covers of the (by now) well circulated and approved Green Belt Reviews, which read as follows –
"This report takes into account the particular instructions and requirements of our client.
It is not intended for and should not be relied upon by any third party and no responsibility is undertaken to any third party".
I was somewhat concerned about this 'wording' and as a result took Counsel's advice on the matter and was subsequently advised to "raise this matter as a preliminary point of the Examination, because unless you are told what the parameters of the review are, how can you be sure that this is a fully and purely objective review undertaken by Arup on behalf of the Council.
The endorsement is general in its wording and so it follows that the Inspector is equally unable to rely on it".
Counsel’s advice went on to say - "the formal letter of instruction needs to be disclosed (and all communications between Arup and the Council regarding it). What were those “particular instructions”? What were those “requirements”?

Counsel’s prescribed action was carried out as advised (above) and the Inspector said, after offering both parties (BMBC and Arup) a chance to reflect on the advice statement, which they refused, that it was up to us to sort the 'matter' out with BMBC and Arups.

CONCLUSION AND SUMMARY
Finally, I requested a copy of the BMBC's 'THE BRIEF' document from Joe Jenkinson, BMBC’s Planning Officer, in order that I might discover what those elusive points that we wanted clarifying at the Examination were i.e. 'the formal letter of instruction needs to be disclosed (and all communications between Arup and the Council regarding it). What were those “particular instructions”? What were those “requirements”?
Having now had the opportunity to have read BMBC's 'THE BRIEF' document in much detail, I have listed below, several items which concern me greatly and in my opinion and following Counsel's advice, they now need some 'urgent' answers regarding their validity and otherwise, of the two Arup’s Green Belt Reviews, (as previously detailed above) and which were specially commissioned by BMBC.

OFFICIAL REQUEST FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
So now, could you please provide me with individual written answers and/or further clarification as requested or electronic copies of documents (as the case may be) and any relevant CD’s and/or DVD’s are sought and on the following points and paragraphs listed below in this request and which are relevant paragraph extracts and numbers taken from the official BMBC document called 'THE BRIEF'.

PLEASE NOTE:
‘THE BRIEF’ DOCUMENT PARAGRAPH NUMBERS ARE QUOTED BELOW AND WHICH IN SOME CASES, WILL REQUIRE FULLER, MORE DETAILED ANSWERS/EXPLANATIONS.
Any items with * will require a full written answer/explanation of that particular paragraph.

GENERAL QUESTIONS: Please provide the audit trail, the date and the document reference, as this is a very important document and should be properly identified, otherwise how do I know that this is the document you both (BMBC and ARUP) actually worked to?
1.4 - Which Core Strategy do you refer to? i.e. Give the year and any amendments, and full reference. No Audit trail again, so state clearly and fully what is your evidence base for claims regarding land need?
2.1 – Provide the date of NPPF referred to by yourselves and have there been any changes since that issue date? Should there not be an appendix to the original document listing the references, fully audit-trailed (similar to the Local Plan sample screenshot) - please provide one.
3.4 - See separate SHLAA report below.
SHLAA report, which requires clarification accordingly.
So, apart from the hurdles you’ve placed in the way of anybody trying to work with the vast amount of information, I think it’s worth me challenging the density figures used against the requirements of the LP document, i.e. the actual density is 28/ha against a target of 40/ha, which has the effect of increasing the land take required by 40/25 or about 60%. They need 670ha for 17800 dwellings at 25/ha. At 40/ha they “only” need 445ha.
The 17800 number is calculated from individual site details, starting with the SHLAA and selected sites in the DLP. I can’t make it add up to the 20330 in the Plan, not least because there’s no area information in the LPPD document itself, just the total housing numbers. The Draft Local Plan did include hectarage as well as numbers and this is what I used.
So I am a challenging you here and now to provide me with the figures on ‘nominated’ versus ‘actual’ density?
4.1 - As far as I am concerned, the Green Belt Review does not stand up to scrutiny. Please clarify and explain in full detail why you think it does.
What does this mean? Suitability for what? It doesn’t make sense. The Green Belt sites already exist. The exercise is to identify sites that don’t meet the criteria set out in para. 79-86, so they can be taken. Explain your reasoning on all my questions above.
* Question/Query - where is this robust methodology – please provide full details.
5.3 – Presumably the efficacy of your methodology is in the results you (BMBC) accepted.
5.4 – Documented proof is required of all visits to all listed sites, including personnel and dates, complete with the final report.
Terms of Reference to be something like:
“We need to get some land from the Green Belt (i.e. total land identified as required, minus land available from Brownfield sites). Using NPPF para 79-86, identify sites that we can nominate as poorly meeting the five criteria using a scoring system.”
5.5 – Not at all sure exactly what this paragraph means, so could you please clarify?
7.2 – Explain fully the outcomes and fully document all day to day issues.
8.1 – Explain in detail what the executive summary is and why it should be a separate document to the report?
Please supply electronic and/or hard copies of the minutes of the final report findings presented to officers, relevant stakeholders, Local members and Senior Members of the Council. Please state if any community groups or local residents had or were sent copies and if not, explain why not.
Also provide an electronic and a hard copy of ‘The Report’ and an original copy of one of the 10 CD’s produced.
NOTE: Previous requests were made for an electronic copy of the SHLAA results and was told that it was not possible.
9.1 – Provide full details of the timetable in the spaces on the blank table.
10.1 – Provide full details in each of the 14 bullet pointed sub-items and in particular –
* In B.P. 2 regarding the methodology and techniques employed and also provide full records of agreed documents which were discussed.
* In B.P. 7 – I would like electronic and hard copies of the details, including the names and contact details of the 2 local authorities’ clients who had carried out similar green belt review work within the past 5 years.
* In B.P.’s 13 and 14, provide full details and copies of references.
11.5 – Provide details of the ‘actual/provisional’ commencement date.
13.1 – Provide the indicative budget range.
13.2 – Indicate if there were any further works required, with any costs incurred.
14.3 – Provide fully itemised details of the regular contact with the client, with full names of both parties.
15.1 – Provide an electronic and a hard copy of the Council’s Standard Terms and Conditions.

Yours faithfully,

John H Earnshaw, FCIH

Freelance Housing, Regeneration & Crime Reduction Consultant
Celebrating 50 years membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing and
Member of the National Housing Taskforce (APPG) Housing & Planning 

Associate Member of the National CLT Network
and
Technical Advisor to the CLT Fund
http://www.cltfund.org.uk/technical-advi...

Information Requests, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Good morning John,

Ref: EIR1202

Re: Request for Information – Environmental Information Regulations 2004

Thank you for your request for information about BMBC's contract with Arup for commissioning & providing a Green Belt Review in 2014.

Your email request was received on 21 August 2017 and I am dealing with it under the terms of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Your request will be processed as soon as possible, and we will try to provide the information within 20 working days as required. The deadline date when the information should be available to you is 19 September 2017.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will let you know the likely charges before proceeding.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Thank you

Cathryn Copley
Customer Services Improvement Officer
Communities Directorate
Gateway Plaza
Barnsley MBC
C/O Corporate Mail Room
PO Box 634
Barnsley
S70 9GG

Information Requests, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Good afternoon John,
Please find attached the results of my findings for your recent Environmental Information Regulations request.
Thank you

Cathryn Copley
Customer Services Improvement Officer
Communities Directorate
Gateway Plaza
Barnsley MBC
C/O Corporate Mail Room
PO Box 634
Barnsley
S70 9GG

Dear Information Requests,

Further to your response to my FOI request - (as stated above), I hereby respond to the various points made in your reply, having noted that you are intending to deal with my request under the terms of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 - Regulation 12(4)(b).

Firstly, let me correct your wrong assumptions, in that I did NOT represent Keeep it Green 2014 at the recent Local Plan Hearings and neither does this request have their endorsement, otherwise I would have included Keep it Green 2014 within the request.
Yes, I do support Keep it Green 2014, like many hundreds more of dissatisfied local residents who are totally against this action, but this initial 'fight back' is my very own and to make it absolutely clear and I repeat, is NOT endorsed by Keep it Green 2014. After much thought on the matter, I don't really know what that has got to with my request anyway!

It was most apparent to most of the people present at the Local Plan Hearings, who also thought that the Green Belt Review was not independantly carried out.

Please see all the many hearing submissions on Main Matter 6 - The Green Belt - Stage 2 Hearing Statements - for evidence - https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/services/pla...

I will now draw your attention to the hearing submission of Yorkshire Land Ltd and their Counsel, Sasha White QC's many mentions of the same doubts and facts and in his submission of 28th April 2016.

LINK: https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/media/5805/s...

I will also draw your attention to BMBC's own document - THE BRIEF - page 6, para.5 and I quote "The appointed consultants will be expected to review a methodology for carrying out a green belt review devised by the council and use this to perform this commission if at all possible. They may wish to recommend changes to the methodology and the council will be happy to discuss this.

ARUP are duty bound to defend to defend their position regardless!

I will also draw your attention to this We Are Barnsley (WAB) headline on 31st July 2012 - created by Councillor Linda Brugess -
"Greenbelt Land Considered For Housing Estates" - Large employment sites are proposed along the Dearne Valley Parkway - near Hoyland Common and Birdwell - and the link road near Grimethorpe.
Other sites near the Dodworth motorway junction and at Birthwaite Business Park, Darton will be extended.

Farmland between Barugh Green Road and Hermit Lane, Gawber, has also been identified as an employment site along with fields near Blacker Hill, sandwiched between the Dearne Valley Parkway and the former railway line, and to the rear of Applehaigh View at Royston. Coun Burgess accepts there will be objections but said they had to be weighed against the need to create 25,000 jobs to bring Barnsley up to the regional average.

Therefore, in view of this press release, it is clearly obvious to all and sundry that the BMBC Green Belt Review, created by ARUP, had to come up with the right results!

At the Hearing, the Inspector Sarah Houseden said that she would give each party (BMBC and ARUP) half an hour to sort out what they wanted to say, but they both declined her offer.

In answer to the points you raise in your 3rd and final bullet point on page 2 of your letter, I can say clearly the following - Both? This is a circular argument. How were they deemed to be performing weakly without having test? How did that reasoning impact on the on the separate, assumed later, ARUP Study?

The remainder of your statements in your letter have lots of queries which need 'urgent' answers, but you have declined to answer them, which has been very typical of the vast majority of this Local Plan proceedings have been conducted by BMBC from the outset.

It only leaves me to say in my summing up, that I'm greatly concerned, along with most other affected local residents, that we're more than concerned with a specific calculation of suitability of a specific site only and sadly leaves me with this presssing thought in my mind - "How can the ARUP's Green Belt Review have been independent, if it started with a Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council initial assessment?

However disappointed I feel right now, I can tell you that I will not be deterred by your 'refusal' decision under Regulation 12 (4)(b) and I will still continue to seek the truth from the many other sources I have avaiable and by searching in every nook and cranny until I find it!

Finally, it makes me wonder if you would have applied the 'refusal' option for an information request from the Planning Inspector, the Leader of the council or even your Cabinet Member for Space, on the grounds that "it would involve an unreasonable diversion of resources from the provison of public service"!
I doubt it very much, but I must ask the question - are most council employees paid to pick and choose what work they want to do and if they refuse to do the work, should they still get well paid even if they do nothing at all?

Yours sincerely,
John

John H Earnshaw, FCIH
Freelance Housing, Regeneration & Crime Reduction Consultant

Celebrating 50 years membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing and

Member of the National Housing Taskforce (APPG) Housing & Planning

Associate Member of the National CLT Network
and
Technical Advisor to the CLT Fund
http://www.cltfund.org.uk/technical-advi...

Lansdown Housing Consultancy
PO Box 3609
BARNSLEY
S75 1WW
Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=...

Dear BMBC Information Requests,

'COMPLAINT'

In respect of my FOI request for the following information: - 'Full Details of BMBC's Contract (from start to finish) with Arup for Commissioning & Providing a Green Belt Review in 2014'
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...
I hereby give niotice that I request an Internal Review regarding the above matter!

Yours sincerely,

John H Earnshaw
Freelance Housing, Regeneration & Crime Reduction Consultant

Celebrating 50 years membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing and

Member of the National Housing Taskforce (APPG) Housing & Planning

Associate Member of the National CLT Network
and
Technical Advisor to the CLT Fund
http://www.cltfund.org.uk/technical-advi...

Lansdown Housing Consultancy
PO Box 3609
BARNSLEY
S75 1WW

Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=...

Alok Sharma MP – Minister of State for Housing & Planning - “We are absolutely clear that the Green Belt must be protected and that there are other areas that local authorities must pursue first, such as brownfield land and taking steps to increase density on urban sites”

Information Requests, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Good morning John,

Ref: EIR1202

Re: INTERNAL REVIEW

Thank you for your request for an internal review, which I received by email on 19 September 2017.

Your internal review should be available to you by the 17 October 2017, 20 working days after receipt of your request.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Thank you

Cathryn Copley
Customer Services Improvement Officer
Communities Directorate
Gateway Plaza
Barnsley MBC
C/O Corporate Mail Room
PO Box 634
Barnsley
S70 9GG

Information Requests, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Good morning John,
Before I can send your request for an internal review to service, I need to determine on what basis you are unhappy about your response from the council and the exception we applied?
The aim of an internal review is to re-consider the response given independently to determine whether the information supplied, satisfied the request or any exceptions quoted are applied correctly.
If you are not satisfied with the information provided or the exception applied you need to give reasons why you consider this to be the case before an internal review can be carried out.
As part of the process, we will consider whether:
• the Regulations have been properly applied, in particular, whether the information requested genuinely falls within the exception(s) cited and (where relevant) the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information;
• there have been any developments since the original response, including any points made by you when making your complaint, that should alter our approach;
• it is possible to provide any further information to you.

Complaints about decisions made under EIR by public authorities, can be made to the Information Commissioner (after internal review) for a decision on whether BMBC dealt with the request in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

I understand from your previous correspondence that you are unhappy with the decisions and actions of the council in respect of the BMBC's Contract (from start to finish) with Arup for Commissioning & Providing a Green Belt Review in 2014. We would advise that it is often easier to resolve any concerns or complaints directly with the service in the first instance instead of submitting a request for information under EIR, however, if you have already done this and remain dissatisfied you can pursue your concerns through the council's complaints procedure.

You can make a complaint in the following ways:

- Visit the council's website at https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/have-your-sa... and complete the online form;
- telephone (01226) 773555 between Monday and Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm
- write to us at Customer Services Feedback and Improvement Team, PO Box 679, Barnsley, S70 9GG - please mark your envelope TO BE OPENED BY ADDRESSEE ONLY
- sending a text to 07786525880
- contacting 800201226 if you use Typetalk

Please could you advise me whether you wish to pursue your request for an internal review for the response received under EIR or make a complaint regarding the Service.
Thank you

Cathryn Copley
Customer Services Improvement Officer
Communities Directorate
Gateway Plaza
Barnsley MBC
C/O Corporate Mail Room
PO Box 634
Barnsley
S70 9GG

Dear Cathryn Copley, Customer Services Improvement Officer - Information Requests,

I have set out below, in full detail, all the information you will need to determine and on what basis I am unhappy about your so called response to the exception we applied?
So, I am not happy simply because you have refused my FOI request under para 12(4) (b) and then given me a totally unacceptable set of reasons for your refusal, as set out in your letter dated 25th August 2017.…”as it would involve an unreasonable diversion of resources from the provision of public service” – where on earth did you dream that one up?
In the same letter, you go on to make totally unacceptable allegations and assumptions that do not and will not stand up in a Court of Law, never mind an Internal Review.

The Brief document that the Programme Officer gave me was only a ‘blank’ document and it did not contain the facts and figures which I requested in my original FOI request.

It appears to me as though you have something to cover up or hide!

As you point out – ‘the aim of an internal review is to re-consider the response given independently to determine whether the information supplied, satisfied the request or any exceptions quoted are applied correctly’

No information whatsoever has been supplied to me on that matter!

I am not satisfied with the information provided nor the exception applied to me, so I have given reasons why I consider this to be the case before an internal review can be carried out.

No information has been supplied to me, only a total refusal to comply

As part of the process, you state that will consider whether:
• the Regulations have been properly applied, in particular, whether the information requested genuinely falls within the exception(s) cited and (where relevant) the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information;
• there have been any developments since the original response, including any points made by you when making your complaint, that should alter our approach;
• it is possible to provide any further information to you.
and hopefully in accordance with the:

DUTY TO PROVIDE ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE
15. Regulation 9 of the EIR places a duty on public authorities to provide advice and assistance to applicants. A public authority is deemed to have complied with this duty in any particular case if it has conformed with this Code in relation to the provision of advice and assistance in that case. The duty to assist and advise is enforceable by the Information Commissioner.
If a public authority fails in its statutory duty, the Commissioner may issue a decision notice under section 50, or an enforcement notice under section 52 of the FOIA.
16. Public Authorities should not forget that other Acts of Parliament may be relevant to the way in which authorities provide advice and assistance to applicants or potential applicants, e.g. the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Race Relations Act 1976 (as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000).
The Code of Practice applies where a request for environmental information is received, as defined in the EIR. Any request for other information should be handled in accordance with the FOIA. Where a request relates to information, part of which is environmental and part of which is not, then each part of the request should be handled in accordance with the relevant legislation.

Complaints about decisions made under EIR by public authorities, can be made to the Information Commissioner (after internal review) for a decision on whether BMBC dealt with the request in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004
Exceptions to the duty to disclose environmental information
12.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (9), a public authority may refuse to disclose environmental information requested if—
(a)an exception to disclosure applies under paragraphs (4) or (5); and
(b)in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
(2) A public authority shall apply a presumption in favour of disclosure.
(3) To the extent that the information requested includes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject, the personal data shall not be disclosed otherwise than in accordance with regulation 13.
(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that—
(a) it does not hold that information when an applicant’s request is received;
(b) the request for information is manifestly unreasonable;
(c) the request for information is formulated in too general a manner and the public authority has complied with regulation 9;
(d) the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data; or
(e) the request involves the disclosure of internal communications.
If I don’t get any satisfaction in this instance, I will take Counsel’s advice on the matter and immediately apply to the Information Commissioner.

Another statement – “I understand from your previous correspondence that you are unhappy with the decisions and actions of the council in respect of the BMBC's Contract (from start to finish) with Arup for Commissioning & Providing a Green Belt Review in 2014”. That is absolutely correct!

You state and I quote – “we would advise that it is often easier to resolve any concerns or complaints directly with the service in the first instance instead of submitting a request for information under EIR, however, if you have already done this and remain dissatisfied you can pursue your concerns through the council's complaints procedure”.

Why wasn’t I given this advice long before now?

Yours sincerely,

John H Earnshaw, FCIH
Freelance Housing, Regeneration & Crime Reduction Consultant

Celebrating 50 years membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing and

Member of the National Housing Taskforce (APPG) Housing & Planning

Associate Member of the National CLT Network
and
Technical Advisor to the CLT Fund
http://www.cltfund.org.uk/technical-advi...

Lansdown Housing Consultancy
PO Box 3609
BARNSLEY
S75 1WW

Telephone/Fax – 01226 – 390093
Mobile: 07858 – 309903
Car Phone – 07849 – 803308

Linkedin - http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=...

In my pursuit of the legality of Green Belt Reviews and other related issues with Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Housing & Planning, and I quote his words - “We are absolutely clear that the Green Belt must be protected and that there are other areas that local authorities must pursue first, such as brownfield land and taking steps to increase density on urban sites”

Dear Information Request

Please note that I am still waiting for your reply to my previous email to you which breaches and contravenes the FOI rules.

I look forward to receiving your urgent reply to avoid further action.

Yours sincerely,

John Earnshaw

Information Requests, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning,

Apologies for the delay, the internal review has been completed but is awaiting sign off before it can be sent to you. I hope this will be done today.

Regards,

Tom Grierson

Customer Feedback and Improvement Officer
Customer Feedback and Improvement Team
Customer Services

Mail: Barnsley MBC, Feedback and Improvement Team, Gateway Plaza, Sackville Street, Barnsley, S70 9GG
Tel: 01226 770770

Information Requests, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council

2 Attachments

  • Attachment

    EIR1202 Internal Review Response.pdf

    259K Download View as HTML

  • Attachment

    Freedom of Information request Full Details of BMBC s Contract from start to finish with Arup for Commissioning Providing a Green Belt Review in 2014.txt

    10K Download View as HTML

Good Morning,

Please see attached internal review response.

Regards,

Tom Grierson

Customer Feedback and Improvement Officer
Customer Feedback and Improvement Team
Customer Services

Mail: Barnsley MBC, Feedback and Improvement Team, Gateway Plaza, Sackville Street, Barnsley, S70 9GG
Tel: 01226 770770

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org