Manipulating Council Tax court costs to fund Garden Waste collections

The request was refused by North East Lincolnshire Council.

kasturba Lalbhai

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

In reference to paragraphs 12-22 of ANNEX B of the below document:

http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/wp...

Paragraph 12 states:

"The 2011/12 budget-setting was open to consultation where the views of residents, businesses and scrutiny panel were sought to establish their preferences for where savings could be made to meet the shortfall as a result of government cuts. It was found that increasing summons costs as a means of generating income was favoured by the majority of respondents over alternative proposals to introduce a charge for replacement bins or garden waste collections."

Paragraph 14 states:

"The decision to increase the summons charge and make no subsequent charge for a liability order was agreed by members following public consultation in relation to the budget proposals.
.......
It does suggest though that members of the council may have been aware that the proposal involved more than increasing costs; a point further backed-up in an email sent by the council on 21.4.11 responding to a request for documents dealing with proposals of the summons increase from £32 to £70."

Paragraph 22 states:

"This was serious official error and contempt for the law. Senior officers were clearly acting ultra vires to propose a scheme to generate income that involved manipulating court costs and made more serious with its implementation being solely dependent on the outcome of a ballot, as opposed a true evaluation of expenditure."

The council proposed increasing and front loading court costs for obtaining a Council Tax liability order to the costs of issuing a summons in order pay for public services that would otherwise have been funded by introducing a charge for Garden Waste collections. This artificially inflates court summons costs for an unlawful purpose. The law requires that the costs claimed are properly referable to the enforcement process (See paragraphs 35 and 50 of the High Court judgment in Nicolson v Tottenham Magistrates [2015]) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

Please disclose all recorded details held by the Council relating to the relevant legal officer's involvement in overseeing the proposal of increasing and front loading court costs for obtaining a Council Tax liability order to the costs of issuing a summons for the above stated purposes.

(Paras 7-11, ANNEX B and 120-131, ANNEX A are also relevant)

Yours faithfully,

kasturba Lalbhai

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your request for information, which has been
allocated the reference number NELC/5000/1718.

Your request has been passed to the relevant department for processing and
you can expect your response within the 20 working day limit. If it will
take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you, we will inform you
of this and provide you with the expected date for receiving a response.

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:

[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

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PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

Thank you for your information request, reference number NELC/5000/1718.

Based on the content of your correspondence " Manipulating Council Tax court costs to fund Garden Waste collections", we determine that this request is vexatious. Your correspondence is intended to raise unfounded allegations against the Council, with no substance behind your allegations, or intention to obtain information from North East Lincolnshire Council.

Section 14 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act states that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if that request is vexatious.

North East Lincolnshire Council will therefore not be responding to this request.

If you disagree with the Council determining your request is vexatious you have the right to request an internal review by the Council. If following this you remain dissatisfied you may contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary arrangements.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

Feedback Officer

           

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kasturba Lalbhai

Dear PPD - FOI,

Thanks for your help.

I understand from your reply stating that I intend to raise unfounded allegations against the Council, with no substance behind them, that the document contains untrue information.

Please can you identify what information you consider is untrue.

Yours sincerely,

kasturba Lalbhai

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam 

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your correspondence and wish to confirm that
an Internal Review of the handling of your Information Request
NELC/5000/1718 is to take place.

 

The Internal Review has been passed to the relevant department for
processing and you can expect your response within the 20 working day
limit. If it will take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you,
we will inform you of this and provide you with the expected date for
receiving a response.

 

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:
[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

 

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

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PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir/Madam

Further to your request an Internal Review has taken place into North East
Lincolnshire Council's handling of your information
request NELC/5000/1718, concerning your view that council tax court costs
are being manipulated to fund Garden Waste collections.   I have reviewed
the response provided to you and the handling of your request in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and find:

o That your request was responded to within the statutory time of 20
working days;
o That you were informed whether or not the information you asked for
was held by North East Lincolnshire Council;
o That you were provided with the reasons why any information you had
asked for could not be supplied to you under the Freedom of
Information Act; and
o That your response provided you with your rights of appeal. 

I am therefore satisfied that the Council has acted in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act in the handling of your request.

I have reviewed the content of your request and the response provided to
you and I am satisfied that the exemption of section 14 (1)  has been
applied correctly.  The content of your request is vexatious in nature and
is intended to raise unfounded allegations against the council.  The
matter also forms part of a concerted campaign that has been undertaken
through the what do they know website against North East Lincolnshire
Council and its administration of council tax.  On that basis we will not
be entering into any further correspondence regarding this matter.

I trust that this Internal Review answers your queries in relation to your
request, and clarifies that your request has been handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act. 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

Adele Beharrell

 

 

 

 

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