Internal Audit Reports

Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS made this Freedom of Information request to South Norfolk District Council

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

The request was refused by South Norfolk District Council.

Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

Dear South Norfolk District Council,

Please provide copies of all internal audit reports for the last six years into the maintenance of registers of the Council's planning decisions (i.e. planning registers, enforcement and stop notice register and local land charge registers), and authorisation of issue of notices by the Council's legal function. Please also provide copies of all internal documents as to why the registers of the Council's decisions are at variance, and any action plans.

Please also provide details of any reports to elected representatives made over the last six years informing them of the state of disarray of the Council's planning function and that false information (as identified in the Council's registers of decisions) is being provided to elected representatives by officers in the Council's planning department.

Please also identify the number of direct actions and Court prosecutions the Council has engaged in based on notices that the Council's registers identify were never served and/or issued by the Council (it is simply fact that in November 2013 officers of the Council engaged in acts of unlawful alteration of about 500 planning records to identify that they had been issued by the Council). The majority of these records are identified multiple times in the Local Land Charges register. Please finally identify the provision made by the Council to provide compensation to citizens for the acts of the staff of the Council's local land charges department and planning department having prosecuted notices not issued or served by the Council.
Yours faithfully,

Stuart H Carruthers

Right2Know, South Norfolk District Council

Dear Mr Carruthers

Thank you for your request of information that is being considered. You may be aware that we have 20 working days in which to respond to Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests and you will therefore hear from me again by 27 January 2015 or earlier if possible.

For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then some or all of the information may not be released. You will be informed if this is the case, including your rights of appeal.

If any of the information you have requested is not contained in a recorded format, South Norfolk Council is not obliged to create information for the purpose of responding to your request

There may be a fee payable for ‘reasonable disbursement’ costs such as postage and photocopying. This will be considered and you will be informed if a fee is payable. In this event the fee must be paid before the information is processed and released. The 20 working day time limit for responses is suspended until receipt of the payment.

If you have any queries or concerns then please let me know. If you do contact us again concerning this request, please quote FOI 14-507.

Regards

Emma Goddard
Scrutiny and Information Rights Officer
t 01508 533747 e [email address] www.south-norfolk.gov.uk

South Norfolk Council - Investors In People | Gold

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Right2Know, South Norfolk District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Carruthers

Further to your request for information dated 28 December 2014, I can advise that under section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Council does hold the information you have requested, however it is being withheld. Under section 14 (1), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states that "Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious". We have considered guidance issued by the Information Commissioner's Office regarding vexatious requests and on that basis have decided that your request is vexatious.

I consider your request to be vexatious for a number of reasons based on the ICO's guidance referred to above:

Unfounded accusations: You have made many allegations against the Council and the condition of the Planning Department. These accusations continue in this particular request. You claim that the Council's planning department is in 'a state of disarray' and you state that it is fact that 'officers of the Council engaged in acts of unlawful alteration of about 500 planning records to identify that they had been issued by the Council'. As you well know, the Council does not accept your claims and has not engaged in activities that you state. This has been subject of previous FOI requests and correspondence and in our opinion, make this request vexatious. Further, the majority of your requests to us in 2013 and 2014 have been answered by stating that the information is not held due to the fact that you are seeking information which does not exist, which is based on your unfounded accusations and claims. This pattern of behaviour appears to be on-going and is demonstrated in this request, which could also demonstrate unreasonable persistence (also a factor in determining whether a request is vexatious).

No obvious intent to obtain information: This relates to requests that are used as a means to vent anger at a particular decision, or to harass and annoy the authority, for example, by requesting information which the authority knows the requester to possess already. Namely, you already know the Council's position relating to the Council's register of decisions. This has been the subject to legal cases that you have been involved in and therefore you are very much aware of this and the reasons why the Council is of a particular view. In addition, I have also stated that the subject of your request has been raised in previous FOI requests - the register issue and internal audit reports. Your last point relating to the provision of compensation is made in the knowledge that the Council does not accept your claim that it has prosecuted notices not issued or served by the Council - demonstrating that your request is clearly made with no intent to obtain information.

Frivolous requests: This relates to requests that appear to lack any serious purpose or would appear to amuse the requester. It is clear from the individual request made that the overall effect of your email is not to obtain information and therefore it lacks any serious purpose. The purpose of the request is unclear and it might be argued that it is being used with the deliberate intention to cause annoyance or disruption as the requester already knows the answers to the questions he is asking.

As always, we deal each of your requests based on their own merits and will continue to do so, however we believe that the overall lack of purpose of this request, in conjunction with your many requests of 2014, is vexatious.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this email acts as a Public Interest Refusal Notice. In terms of the exemption, you have a right of appeal against our decision. In the first instance this appeal must be internal and we enclose a copy of our guidance regarding how to request an internal review. We hope that you will not feel it necessary to invoke an appeal, but if you do we will take every care to re-assess your request and let you have our findings.

Please quote FOI 14-507 in any further correspondence concerning this request.

Regards

Emma Goddard
Scrutiny and Information Rights Officer
t 01508 533747 e [email address] www.south-norfolk.gov.uk

South Norfolk Council - Investors In People | Gold

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Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

Dear South Norfolk District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of South Norfolk District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Internal Audit Reports'.

The Council is well aware that I have receipted copies identifying that contents of the registers have been changed and there is nothing vexatious about this whatsoever. The Council needs to be able to show beyond reasonable doubt that it issued and served planning notices. It is unable to act in this way.

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

Yours faithfully,

Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS left an annotation ()

The Council's Enforcement Policy states :

" 9.1. The decision to prosecute will normally be taken by the relevant Director (or, inthe case of Town & Country Planning, by Planning Committee) after taking into consideration the advice of the Solicitor to the Council as to the satisfactory nature of the evidence.

...

9.4 All available, relevant evidence and information will be considered before deciding to commence a prosecution in order to enable a consistent, fair and objective decision to be made. decision will be made as to whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that a criminal offence has been committed by identifying whether the evidence is admissible, substantial and reliable.

9.6 When the evidential test has been satisfied and there are grounds for instigating a prosecution, consideration will be given as to whether it would be in the public interest to do so. A number of factors will be taken into account to determine this and regard will be had to Human Rights legislation and the guidance in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

Right2Know, South Norfolk District Council

Dear Mr Carruthers

I acknowledge receipt of your email below and request for an internal review, which I am currently organising. You will receive a decision within 20 days; by 23 February 2015.

If the outcome of the review finds that we have not disclosed information that we should have released, then we will release the information to you as soon as possible after the decision. We will also advise you if the outcome is that we are satisfied that the procedures have been followed correctly and that the original decision should remain unchanged.

Regards

Emma Goddard
Scrutiny and Information Rights Officer
t 01508 533747 e [email address] www.south-norfolk.gov.uk

South Norfolk Council - Investors In People | Gold

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Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

Dear Right2Know,

You are due to respond on this issue by 23 February 2015.

The issues shall either be progressing to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (on the grounds that the Council's solicitors misled the Court and that the Council staff have engaged in acts of forgery to mislead the Court) and/or the ICO on the Grounds that the Council has the information but has supported regulatory failures.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS

Right2Know, South Norfolk District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Carruthers

Please find attached the decision notice resulting from the internal review of your request for information (FOI 14-507). If you are still dissatisfied, you can contact the Information Commissioner and I show below the contact details for your information:

Office of the Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Tel: 01625 545745
Website: http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Regards

Emma Goddard
Scrutiny and Information Rights Officer
t 01508 533747 e [email address] www.south-norfolk.gov.uk

South Norfolk Council - Investors In People | Gold

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