Motivation for a Public Spaces Protection Order in relation to fossils found loose on the beach

Jamie Hiscocks made this Freedom of Information request to Rother 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 partially successful.

Dear Rother District Council,

This FOI request concerns the PSPO relating to fossils found on the foreshore.

Could you supply me the reasons put forward by RDC cabinet for the inclusion of the removal of fossils in the PSPO and please supply evidence. Explain how this relates to anti social behaviour under the Crime and Policing Act 2014 ? Have there been complaints relating to ASB and the harmless pursuit of beachcombing for fossils? Please include any complaints from residents received, if any. Include the total number of complaints that led to this response by RDC. For each complaint please include:

1. The time and date of complaint or if a time is not available, only the date.

2. The precise wording of the complaint.

3. The means by which you received the complaint, if this is recorded.

4. If there was any public disorder that your employees or the police recorded in connection with the complaint, and if so the nature of the public disorder complaint and if it led to a public disorder related conviction.

6. If there was no public disorder associated with the complaint, please be specific as to the investigation performed at the time of the complaint, and the nature of the resultant disturbance and effect on the area. If no investigation was performed, please record this as "No investigation performed".

Yours faithfully,

Jamie Hiscocks

foi, Rother District Council

Dear Mr Hiscocks

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS 2004

Thank you for your request received on 26 October 2018 relating to information about Public Spaces Protection Order. We aim to respond to your request for information within 20 working days, in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Information Regulations.

Freedom of Information Manager

Rother District Council
Town Hall
Bexhill on Sea TN39 3JX

T: 01424 787000
E: [Rother District Council request email]
W: www.rother.gov.uk

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Dear FOI,

Since making my FOI request regarding loose, beachcombed fossils off the beach, I have had RDC confirm to me that the PSPO relating to fossils does not include loose fossils. However, just to clarify, this does not change any part of my request for the detailed information I have requested. I speak on behalf of the local community who would like to know what incidents, if any, have occurred and been reported to the police and Rother DC in connection with the beach and 'fossil hunters'(beachcombers).

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

Dear FOI,

Please can you also supply a copy of the 'officers report' which is mentioned in the Bexhill Observer article 'Crystal Clear who owns beach fossils' dated March 10th 2017, of which clearly claims it has evidence of damage to the beach environment. I contacted Sussex Police Inspector Dan Russell, he pointed me to Rother DC's website but I have been unable to find the officers report to which the Observer newspaper refers.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

foi, Rother District Council

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Hiscocks

 

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS 2004

 

With reference to your request received on 26 October 2018 about Public
Spaces  Protection Order, please find our response attached hereto. 

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of the request please contact us
within 60 calendar days of this response, if you wish to request an
internal review.  If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome of the
internal review you have the right to make a complaint to the Information
Commissioner.  Their details are:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire   SK9 5AF

Tel. 01625 545700

[1]www.ico.org.uk

 

Please note that the information provided by Rother District Council is
intended for your personal use.  If it is your intention to re-use the
information for commercial gain, you will need to apply to the Council for
a license to re-use it, under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information
Regulations 2005.

 

 

 

Freedom of Information Manager

 

Rother District Council

Town Hall

Bexhill on Sea TN39 3JX

 

T: 01424 787000

E: [2][Rother District Council request email]

W:  [3]www.rother.gov.uk

 

[4]Follow all news stories on Twitter

[5]Visit our Website

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References

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2. mailto:[Rother District Council request email]
3. http://www.rother.gov.uk/
4. Follow all news stories on Twitter
http://www.twitter.com/RotherDC
5. Rother District Council
http://www.rother.gov.uk/

Dear foi,
Thank you for providing the information.

However, my request to be supplied with a copy of the 'officers report' has not been fulfilled. Please clarify, are you stating that the 'officers report' and the 'fossil collecting code of conduct' are one and the same? How can that be when a report authored by the Executive Director was considered _regarding_ the fossil code of conduct? I see no evidence or details of the claims made in the 'officers report' which should be made freely available to the public, that could be related to anti social behaviour under the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Please, can you supply me with a copy of the actual 'officers report' mentioned in section CB16/85 (6.2) in the minutes in which it states, quote: "Consideration was given to the 'report of the Executive Director of Business Operations'...". Are you able to provide me with a copy of the actual report on which this whole fossil matter is based on?

I would like to make it clear, that this is not a protest against the PSPO. I am merely wanting to put together the facts on how the council justified including fossils in the PSPO, for the sake of historic public record/documentation. The minutes March 13 do not show any evidence that there is a problem, it merely espouses unsubstantiated claims. To this end, if you are unable to supply me with a copy of the so-called 'officers report', then please can you supply me with any information that resides in the council's records that is relevant to my original request concerning the PSPO relating to fossils that would enlighten the public on the main elements of which justifies including fossils in the PSPO and/or what the PSPO is actually based on supplied with the evidence.

The public consultation does not show any evidence that there was a problem in the first place. Those comments cannot be seen as statements of fact as the process is open to abuse by anyone who is anti-professional collector and anyone who does not understand the harmless pursuit of beachcombing and the fact there is no law to prevent people from carrying out this pastime. The comments in the fossil consultation are opinions of mind based on claims made, and so far, not backed up by the council.

Thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

Dear foi,

Further to my request. Since the PSPO does not include loose fossils, please can you supply information together with evidence of what the PSPO relating to fossils is actually based on. Basically, I am wanting the council to reveal to the public exactly what prompted the public consultation on fossils? Based on what information, exactly? - please supply the relevant information. I assume there must be detailed records of this kept on file somewhere at the council's offices.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

foi, Rother District Council

Dear Mr Hiscocks

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS 2004

Thank you for your emails received on 29 November 2018 relating to information about PSPO re fossils. We aim to respond to your request for information within 20 working days, in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Information Regulations.

Freedom of Information Manager

Rother District Council
Town Hall
Bexhill on Sea TN39 3JX

T: 01424 787000
E: [Rother District Council request email]
W: www.rother.gov.uk

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Dear Rother District Council,

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

I am writing because I have not received a response to my latest RDC FOI request since the given 20 day period to respond has expired.

I would like to request an internal review of Rother District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Motivation for a Public Spaces Protection Order in relation to fossils found loose on the beach'. My original request was only answered in part. Rother DC has not produced any evidence of its claims of irresponsible fossil collecting on its beaches.

Beachcombing, searching by eye does no perceptible damage to the beach, and it is not a criminal offence in this country irrespective of peoples intentions or motivation. Items washed up on the beach other than wreck material have no protection. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your point of view, and public opinion is split down the middle on this, but importantly it is not theft. We would like to know, where is the evidence of people breaking known laws or byelaws on Rother DC's beaches? If a person wishes to re-cooperate some costs and expenses by selling duplicate finds _after_ alerting museums (including Bexhill museum) to their research over many years and the museums show no interest in what these people are finding, which is what happened in my case, all fair and good, after all beachcombing is a completely legal tradition being carried out all over the country by many thousands of people. Accusations of innocent beachcombers have appeared in the media that are not true such as stripping beaches clean, this is completely untrue. 10 miles of fossiliferous coastline which is Impossible for one person to cover(!), even if they wanted to. Most beachcombers like myself are responsible people. I respect wildlife and I do not collect everything. I only visit the beach when I can, which is about 3-4 times a month on average. There have been many discoveries made by other individuals over the years on Bexhill's beaches including the Bexhill pterosaur, the sauropod vertebra and foot bone and rare dinosaur teeth to name a few, and all featured in the local newspaper the Bexhill-on-Sea Observer. To claim that the beaches are being stripped is a completely misleading.

Accusing innocent people of theft is a crime. The collection of loose beachcombed fossils collected off a public beach and calling it theft is wrong and immoral. Theft of loose fossils is a misnomer that is being propagated by a few highly self-opinionated individuals. People have been beachcombing for fun and profit for centuries. Has it suddenly become an offence just because one or two individuals become skilled at what they do? Those same individuals whom allow science to study their finds, is this now criminal? Of course not. This is seen as being responsible in the eyes of DEFRA. As a responsible fossil hunter myself and wildlife lover, I follow my own strict code of conduct.

As in my original request, please provide evidence of actual wrongdoing, of described ruthless individuals who are so irresponsible as to never have allowed science complete unimpeded access to their private collections in order to allow study of their finds as regards to fossil hunting on Rother DC's beaches. Who are these ruthless people who have no regard for science?

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

Yours faithfully,

Jamie Hiscocks

foi, Rother District Council

Dear Mr Hiscocks

Further to your email below, I apologise for not sending an acknowledgment for this earlier. We have been progressing your Review and will respond to you in due course.

Freedom of Information Manager

Rother District Council
Town Hall
Bexhill on Sea TN39 3JX

T: 01424 787000
E: [Rother District Council request email]
W: www.rother.gov.uk

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Lynda Crawford, Rother District Council

Dear Mr Hiscocks

Further to your request for an Internal Review, we are still awaiting some information to enable us to complete the review but we aim to respond by the end of next week. Please accept our apologies

Freedom of Information Manager

Rother District Council
Town Hall
Bexhill on Sea TN39 3JX

T: 01424 787000
E: [Rother District Council request email]
W: www.rother.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Lynda Crawford,

Thank you for your response. Okay, but it is a shame that this has taken so long. It is ironic that I am having to sell off parts of my fossil collection that I intended on keeping in order to pay for legal fees to tackle fraudulent and libellous claims made against me regarding a completely legitimate pastime known as beachcombing.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

Dear Lynda Crawford,

I have been thinking about this. It would be good if this were completed by the end of this week as libellous and slanderous remarks continue to be made against me, which as you can imagine, is not pleasant to have to live with. Therefore, I have sought legal advice. I am sorry, but I can wait no longer than the end of this week.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

Dear Lynda Crawford,

My FOI request was simply to receive a copy of the 'Officer's Report' relating to fossils found on the public foreshore by the Executive Director of Business operations. Surely the report must be on file and easily accessible to staff. I am struggling to understand why my request to receive a copy has taken so long and why I was pointed to a page on RDC's website that anyone can see merely mentions the 'officers report'. We are hoping for some answers by the end of the week as promised.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

Dear Ms Crawford,

It's been a while since your last response of which you stated there would be a result by the end of the week before last. Is my request for an internal review still being dealt with?

Thank you kindly for your answer in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

Dear Ms Crawford,

It has been almost two months since my formal request for an internal review of my FOI request. I have been waiting almost four weeks since your last response above dated 23 January stating that you will have reviewed my request by the 'end of next week'. I informed you of my situation which has happened as a result of RDC's unlawful actions. However, I still received no response and we are now several weeks further down the line without any communication from you.

Thus we (my legal team and I) are to assume you are not treating my requests seriously and due to your non compliance of government policy I feel like I am still being treated unfairly and with contempt by certain RDC employees who through this very request and a formal complaint to RDC by myself, RDC staff continue to show no remorse in its unlawful actions. I am hereby forced to take further legal advice which may result in legal action based on all the evidence we have gathered on this matter being taken against offenders who continue to treat an innocent member of the public with malice and contempt.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Hiscocks

foi, Rother District Council

Dear Mr Hiscocks

I have been asked to carry out the internal review of your request for information. Unfortunately I have not been able to conclude my investigation due to a number of other work pressures outside of my control. I take internal reviews seriously and decided it better to delay responding and complete my review properly for you. I am expecting to complete the review and respond to you by the end of this week.

Kind regards

Robin Vennard
Assistant Director - Resources
01424 787711

Rother District Council
Town Hall
Bexhill on Sea TN39 3JX

T: 01424 787000
E: [Rother District Council request email]
W: www.rother.gov.uk

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Dear Mr Vennard,

Thank you for your reply. I am pleased to hear that you are still working on an internal review of my FOI requests. It's unfortunate that I hadn't received an update on the status of the review by your colleagues. I wouldn't have needed to send that as I wouldn't have been so concerned. Anyway, thanks, I appreciate your response.

Kind Regards,

Jamie Hiscocks

foi, Rother District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Hiscocks

 

ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION REGULATIONS 2004

 

Please find attached the conclusion of our Internal Review and apologise
again for the delay in sending this to you.    

 

You will see from the attached that I consider part of your request for an
internal review is actually a complaint about how the Council has handled
your enquiries.  If you agree, this part of your request should be dealt
with under the Councils complaint procedure. Details of how this can be
done can be found on the Council’s website at
[1]http://www.rother.gov.uk/article/178/Com....

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of the request please contact us
within 60 calendar days of this response, if you wish to request an
internal review.  If you are still dissatisfied with the outcome of the
internal review you have the right to make a complaint to the Information
Commissioner.  Their details are:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire   SK9 5AF

Tel. 01625 545700

[2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Please note that the information provided by Rother District Council is
intended for your personal use.  If it is your intention to re-use the
information for commercial gain, you will need to apply to the Council for
a license to re-use it, under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information
Regulations 2005.

 

 

Freedom of Information Manager

 

Rother District Council

Town Hall

Bexhill on Sea TN39 3JX

 

T: 01424 787000

E: [3][Rother District Council request email]

W:  [4]www.rother.gov.uk

 

[5]Follow all news stories on Twitter

[6]Visit our Website

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.rother.gov.uk/article/178/Com...
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/
3. mailto:[Rother District Council request email]
4. http://www.rother.gov.uk/
5. Follow all news stories on Twitter
http://www.twitter.com/RotherDC
6. Rother District Council
http://www.rother.gov.uk/