Scientology Celebrity Centre, 42 Leinster Gardens

This request has been withdrawn by the person who made it. There may be an explanation in the correspondence below.

Dear Westminster City Council,

Please give the reasons why the City of Westminster decided that the Scientology building at 42 Leinster Gardens, London W2 should be entitled to a reduction in business rates.

According to section 43 of the LGFA 1988, mandatory rates relief should only be granted if the premises is "wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes" and using the definition of "charitable purpose" in Part 1.2.1(b) of the Charities Act 2006 then it should be for the public benefit.

Seeing as this place is for the benefit of London celebrities to the exclusion of the ordinary public. I don't understand how the use of these premises is for the public benefit if the public are excluded, hence my request for the reasons used to grant charitable relief in this case.

Yours faithfully,

Anastasia

Westminster City Council

Confirmation of Freedom Of Information Request

Thank you for your request for information.

Your request details have now been recorded and will be passed on to the
appropriate Divisional Records Officer for action.

This Freedom Of Information Request was based on the following
information:

Name: Anastasia
Address: See email address
Email: [FOI #45910 email]
Telephone:
Request Details: Dear Westminster City Council,

Please give the reasons why the City of Westminster decided that
the Scientology building at 42 Leinster Gardens, London W2 should
be entitled to a reduction in business rates.

According to section 43 of the LGFA 1988, mandatory rates relief
should only be granted if the premises is "wholly or mainly used
for charitable purposes" and using the definition of "charitable
purpose" in Part 1.2.1(b) of the Charities Act 2006 then it should
be for the public benefit.

Seeing as this place is for the benefit of London celebrities to
the exclusion of the ordinary public. I don't understand how the
use of these premises is for the public benefit if the public are
excluded, hence my request for the reasons used to grant charitable
relief in this case.

FOI Reference Number: 5822
Target Completion Date: 28/09/2010

Please do not reply to this email.
This is an automatic response to your request, and replies to this message
will not be actioned.

If you need to contact Westminster City Council regarding your request,
please contact:

mailto:[Westminster City Council request email]
Tel:020 7641 3921

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Dear Westminster City Council,

I request a response please.

Yours faithfully,

Anastasia

Black, Phil, Westminster City Council

Anastasia

The statutory requirements for mandatory relief are prescribed by section
43 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988:

* The premises must be occupied by a charity or by trustees on behalf of
a charity; and
* The premises must be used wholly or mainly used for charitable
purposes.

The Council in reaching a decision under section 43 is not exercising a
discretion. It is applying legislation to decide whether as a matter of
law a particular charity is entitled to mandatory relief.

An organisation does not have to be registered with the Charity Commission
to qualify as a charity.

At the time of the application some 10 years ago an organisation could be
considered as charitable if it met one or more of four heads of charity.:

§ for the relief of poverty;
§ for the advancement of religion;
§ for the advancement of education; and
§ for other purposes beneficial to the community

The Mandatory Relief application in question related to a property at 42
Leinster Gardens, W2. It was submitted by the occupier of the property
"Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc".

The applicant provided evidence that the Council decided met the
Beneficial to the Community criteria.

Phil Black
Deputy Contracts Performance Manager
Finance and Resources Department
Westminster City Council
Contracts Performance Team
City Hall, 16th Floor
64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP
TEL: 0207 641 2678
FAX: 0207 641 3458

Phil Black
Deputy Contracts Performance Manager
Finance and Resources Department
Westminster City Council
Contracts Performance Team
City Hall, 16th Floor
64 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QP
TEL: 0207 641 2678
FAX: 0207 641 3458

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FOI, Westminster City Council

Dear Anastasia

A response to your request was provided to you on 30th September 2010 to the address provided above. If you have not yet received a copy of this response, please let me know and I will arrange for it to be re-sent

Kind Regards,
Catherine

Catherine Preston
Knowledge and Information Management Team
Information Services
Westminster City Council
101 Orchardson Street
London NW8 8EA
Tel: 020 7641 3921
Fax: 020 7641 2872
Email: [Westminster City Council request email]
www.westminster.gov.uk

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Dear FOI,

Yes thanks I received a response from Mr P Black

Yours sincerely,

Anastasia

Dear Westminster City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Westminster City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Scientology Celebrity Centre, 42 Leinster Gardens'.

My reasons for requesting an internal review are:

It is in the public interest to know the reasons why Westminster City Council decided to give rates relief on a Celebrity Centre.

It is also in the public interest to understand how a Scientology Celebrity Centre is for public benefit, when its only really for the benefit Scientology Celebrities to the

exclusion of the general public.

As according to section 43 of the LGFA 1988, mandatory rates relief should only be granted if the premises is "wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes" and

using the definition of "charitable purpose" in Part 1.2.1(b) of the Charities Act 2006 then it should be for the public benefit.

Given that the Charity Commissionen determined that COSREC did not meet any of the Heads of Charity, then the Scientology premises at 42 Leinster Gardens,

London W2 should not be entitled to a reduction in business rates.

I include the following documents

Scientology business rates relief in the UK - http://www.xenu-directory.net/opinions/2...
This sets out the reasoning behind the author's conclusion that relief has been awarded to Scientology in error.

Charity Commision's decision http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Libr...

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

Yours faithfully,

Anastasia

FOI, Westminster City Council

Dear Anastasia,

Thank you for your email requesting an Internal Review into the handling
of your recent Freedom of Information request.

I will look into your query and will aim to respond within 20 working
days.

Yours sincerely,

Tanya Holden
DP & FOI Officer
Knowledge & Information Management Team

101 Orchardson Street
London
NW8 8EA
T: 0207 641 6451
F: 0207 641 2872
E: [email address]

show quoted sections

FOI, Westminster City Council

Dear Anastasia,

Thank you for your email of the 2nd October 2010 requesting an Internal
Review on the following grounds:

It is in the public interest to know the reasons why Westminster
City Council decided to give rates relief on a Celebrity Centre.

It is also in the public interest to understand how a Scientology
Celebrity Centre is for public benefit, when its only really for
the benefit Scientology Celebrities to the exclusion of the general
public.
As according to section 43 of the LGFA 1988, mandatory rates relief
should only be granted if the premises is "wholly or mainly used
for charitable purposes" and using the definition of "charitable
purpose" in Part 1.2.1(b) of
the Charities Act 2006 then it should be for the public benefit.

Given that the Charity Commissionen determined that COSREC did not
meet any of the Heads of Charity, then the Scientology premises at
42 Leinster Gardens,

London W2 should not be entitled to a reduction in business rates.

Having reviewed the correspondence I consider that the Council has
provided a response to your original request as to why they have given
rates relief to the occupier of 42 Leinster Gardens.

Your second point appears to be querying the application of the Local
Government Finance Act 1988 rather than the Freedom of Information Act
2000, and this therefore cannot be addressed through an Internal Review.

As a result I have not undertaken an Internal Review into the handling of
request 5822.

Should you have any additional queries please contact me care of the
details below.

Yours sincerely,

Tanya Holden
DP & FOI Officer
Knowledge & Information Management Team

101 Orchardson Street
London
NW8 8EA
T: 0207 641 6451
F: 0207 641 2872
E: [email address]

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

"Having reviewed the correspondence I consider that the Council has provided a response to your original request as to why they have given rates relief to the occupier of 42 Leinster Gardens.

Your second point appears to be querying the application of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 rather than the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and this therefore cannot be addressed through an Internal Review.

As a result I have not undertaken an Internal Review into the handling of request 5822."

Yes the Council have provided a response to my original request, but appear to have overlooked part of it, therefore I will make the request clearer.

1 - I am trying to understand why the Council gave rates relief to a Scientology CELEBRITY CENTRE.

2 - I am also trying to understand HOW a Scientology CELEBRITY CENTRE is 'for charitable purposes' and 'for the public benefit.'

Yours sincerely,

Anastasia

Dear FOI,

Please respond to this thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Anastasia

Harry Raffal left an annotation ()

Your request is very interesting but it seems the council has taken advantage of the wording of your original request.
A new request asking for the evidence the Scientology organisation gave to the council and a second request asking how for all relevant documents (forms, correspondence, minutes et) produced by the council on how the centre was judged to be in the public interest would narrow the scope they possess to avoid providing the information you seek.
Good luck.

Dear FOI,

FOI Withdrawn

Yours sincerely,

Anastasia

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