Unlawful Public Consultation and to profit from introducing charge for garden waste collections

The request was partially successful.

Stan Higgleston

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

I have found in the link below an email, supposedly sent to the council leader.

http://www.legalbeagles.info/forums/show...

The contents are as follows:

"From: oultlawla
To: Leader of Council
Sent: June 11, 2015
Subject: Unlawful Public Consultation to Introduce Charge for Garden waste Collections and profiting from said collections thereafter

Dear Cllr Oxby

Re: Unlawful Public Consultation to introduce charge for garden waste collections and profiting from said collections thereafter

I am aware that North East Lincolnshire Council consulted members of the public in the matter of introducing a charge for garden waste collections. I'm also aware that the consultation was unlawful and believe that the council knows this too.

The Supreme Court ruled on the lawfulness of public consultations, and it was held that a simple offer of take it or leave it does not constitute a lawful public consultation. The ruling is clear that for this kind of consultation to be lawful, there must be offered alternative ways from which residents could choose to make savings. The case reference, which I'm sure you will wish to refer to the authority's Monitoring Officer is Moseley, R (on the application of) v London Borough of Haringey [2014].

There is a more pressing matter however, concerning NELC profiting from its residents by charging them in excess of the council's cost for delivering the garden waste service. A statement published in the Grimsby Telegraph on 28 May 2015 quoted from the cabinet member for environment:

"At this stage, it looks like take-up will far exceed our estimates, which is great news and means the savings can be redirected to other vital services for our communities."

In this regard, I think you will also want to refer the relevant judgment to the NELC's Monitoring Officer. The High Court ruled against a local authority budgeting for a surplus of income from one scheme to be used to meet other expenditure in (R (Attfield) v London Borough of Barnet). This judgment is very relevant to the admission that a surplus will be made from garden waste collections which will be channelled to fund other areas of council services.

To get the ball rolling I'm asking that a proper breakdown is provided setting out the council's income and expenditure to determine how much the £30 annual charge may be reduced so that the authority may lawfully claim that it does not profit from its residents for providing garden waste collections.

On establishing a revised charge the sum should be implemented without delay and the income/expenditure kept under constant review so that any increase in take up of the service is reflected in the subscription fee.

I hope NELC cooperates as I will have no hesitation in reporting any unlawful profiting to the police as a matter of fraud.

Your Sincerely"

1. Will NELC confirm whether this is a genuine email sent to the council leader and is held on record.

2. If confirmed, what plans have the council in addressing the allegations.

Yours faithfully,

Stan Higgleston

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your request for information, which has been
allocated the reference number 0081_1516

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]http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council/the-co....

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

Resources Directorate

 

show quoted sections

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

 

Thank you for your information request reference 0081_1516. I can confirm
that North East Lincolnshire Council holds the following information.

 

1. Will NELC confirm whether this is a genuine email sent to the council
leader and is held on record.

 

            I can confirm that an email has been received by the Council
leader.

 

2. If confirmed, what plans have the council  in addressing the
allegations.

 

            A response will be sent to the individual.

 

If you believe that your request for information has not been handled in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to
request an internal review by the Council. Please be clear about which
elements of the Council’s response or handling of the request you are
unhappy with, and would like the Council to address during the internal
review process.  If following this you are still 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

 

Resources Directorate

 

 

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Dear PPD - FOI,

I understand that there was a public consultation in 2010 in which respondents chose to fund garden waste collections by unlawfully increasing the council tax court costs and front loading all the charge in respect of the summons.

Can the council please confirm whether or not it is lawful to fund a service twice over, or three times over if you take into account that it is already funded through council tax.

Yours sincerely,

Stan Higgleston

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Higgleston

Thank you for your further enquiry in relation to information request reference 0081_1516.

Based on the content of your correspondence, we determine that this request is vexatious. Your correspondence is intended to raise unfounded allegations based on your own views and interpretations, with no 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 or other future requests of a similar nature.

If you require further information regarding delivery of services by Local Authorities we would refer you to the Local Government Act.

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

Resources Directorate

show quoted sections

Dear PPD - FOI,

"Based on the content of your correspondence, we determine that this request is vexatious."

I suppose technically my last question could be considered vexatious in the context of the FOI Act. Only though by virtue of the fact that I knew with almost 100% certainty that NELC would not respond, and by the same token knowing with almost 100% certainty that it would be unlawful to pull the kind of stunt which the council pulled.

Yours sincerely,

Stan Higgleston

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