Dear South Norfolk District Council,
Please provide copies of all correspondence with the occupiers of Bramble Cottage and Kingsland Farm, Middle Road, Denton, Norfolk with the Council in relation to what appear based on the Council's previous actions to be flagrant breaches of planning control in that the occupiers are using the land contrary to enforcement notices claimed by the Council in 2003 and on which it took direct action in 2007 against acts of development that the occupiers of Bramble Cottage and Kingsland have reinstated. There is some dispute as the Council is aware as to the status of its notices.
Stuart H Carruthers
Dear Mr Carruthers
Further to your request for information dated 7 April 2015, I am now in a position to reply. 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 this request is vexatious.
I consider your request to be vexatious for a number of reasons based on the ICO's guidance referred to above:
Unreasonable Persistence and Futile Requests: this relates to requests that are used by the requester to reopen an issue which has already been addressed by the public authority or otherwise subjected to some form of independent scrutiny. I understand that you have been in contact with the Council over many years regarding the subject of your request and have been told that we will not be dealing with any further queries from you on this matter. It would therefore seem that you are attempting to re-open the issue through the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
No obvious intent to obtain information: it would appear that due to your previous dealings with the council on the issues relating to your request that you are aware of the Council’s position and that it no longer feels able to communicate with you constructively on this matter. The request could also be seen to be used to cause annoyance, particularly given the timing of the request and various court proceedings that you have been involved in relating to the subject of the request.
In reaching this decision, we are also taking into account the other requests that you have submitted over the last few years. This persistence, coupled with recent court hearings of which you have been involved in, also leads us to believe that this request is being used to deliberately cause annoyance and disruption to the Council.
As always, we deal with each of your requests based on their own merits and will continue to do so, however we believe that the overall content of this request, in conjunction with the fact that you continue to correspond with the Council on these matters 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 15-133 in any further correspondence concerning this request.
South Norfolk Council - Investors In People | Gold
The Information Commission has identified by letter on 13 January 2016:
'The Information Commissioner has responsibility for promoting and enforcing the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. He is independent from government and upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
The Commissioner does this by providing guidance to individuals and organisations, solving problems where he can, and taking appropriate action where the law is broken.
The Information Commissioner has no jurisdiction over the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which is the focus of your correspondence, and therefore has no guidance on the workings of that legislation.
I am sorry that I cannot be of any further assistance at this time.
Information Commissioner’s Office'
The issues appear to be reasonably clear as there is no identification of issue of Enforcement Notices against activities that the Council has previously taken planning enforcement. The consequence must be that the activities are lawful and that the Council abused its powers under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for which the Council acting as planning authority is responsible for administering subject to appeal to the Secretary of State under Part VII TCPA.
Doubtless the Council's Monitoring Officer is already producing a report as required by s5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 . Your reliance on Court decisions are irrelevant as the Courts can't examine the validity of planning enforcement notices - and the Council has relied upon this to engage in wrongful acts.
Stuart Hardwicke CARRUTHERS
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