Was independent advice sought on the governance of Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company

Deborah Russell made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon 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.

Deborah Russell

Dear East Devon District Council,

Please advise what independent advice was sought on the governance of: Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company, excluding those individuals and businesses associated with OXYGEN HOUSE GROUP LIMITED Company number 08306319?

Please advise what measures have been taken to ensure that there is a truly independent director on the board?

Please advise why Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company was gifted a community asset at the nominal rent of £1 per year for 125 years when East Devon District Council does not hold either a majority share interest or the controlling majority of directors?

Please demonstrate what evidence you hold that ensures that the community asset is protected?

Please demonstrate in what ways Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company is a Social Enterprise for the benefit of the local community? Please clarify in what ways it is not merely an extension of the commercial, private and business interests that Dr Mark Dixon and the companies that he controls including Grenadier already have in place key with tenants Edge Watersports and Michael Caines?

Yours faithfully,

Deborah Russell

East Devon District Council

Thank you for submitting a request for information. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For updates on this case, please quote your unique reference number 101000908284 .

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Deborah Russell

Dear East Devon District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of East Devon District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Was independent advice sought on the governance of Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company'.

Councillor Paul Millar has made some attempt to answer this FOI via Social Media. I am concerned that his response to both myself and parts of the FOI means that he and potentially EDDC are treating my request as vexatious. I believe that they are also not giving it the careful attention that it requires.

Please can you look into this matter and provide me with some reassurance as to how my FOI is being treated by EDDC and its representatives.

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

Yours faithfully,

Deborah Russell

FOI EDDC, East Devon District Council

Dear Ms Russell,

Thank you for your request for an Internal Review. I believe that we have not yet formally responded to your FOI enquiry reference 101000908284. You are due to receive a response by 12th July, therefore it is not appropriate yet to be requesting an Internal Review.

Yours sincerely,

Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

www.eastdevon.gov.uk

show quoted sections

Deborah Russell

Dear FOI EDDC,

Thank you for your message. I will wait for your response on or before the 12th July. However, as a Councillor has already responded on Social Media to my FOI and information has now been released via the local media, I was advised that a review was appropriate.

I will in this instance be guided by you and as stated await your response.

Yours sincerely,

Deborah Russell

East Devon District Council

Dear Ms Russell,

Thank you for your request for information. Please find our response below
to your FOI enquiry.

Please advise what independent advice was sought on the governance of:
Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company, excluding those
individuals and businesses associated with OXYGEN HOUSE GROUP LIMITED
Company number 08306319? - The Council took external legal advice on the
articles and memorandum of the Queen's Drive Community Interest Company.

Please advise what measures have been taken to ensure that there is a
truly independent director on the board? - The Articles of Association for
the Community Interest Company state that "An Independent Director may be
appointed by a majority decision of the Directors."

Please advise why Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company was
gifted a community asset at the nominal rent of £1 per year for 125 years
when East Devon District Council does not hold either a majority share
interest or the controlling majority of directors?

The cabinet reports dated: 6 November 2014; 7 January 2015 and 6 March
2019 detail the nature of the deal with Grenadier Estates. As the
developer of the project, Grenadier Estates are taking the risk regarding
the delivery of this nonprofit making project. The offer made by Grenadier
Estates, and accepted by the council included the proposal for a CIC. The
offer was made on the basis that the majority of directors on the CIC
would be from Grenadier Estates.

Please demonstrate what evidence you hold that ensures that the community
asset is protected? - The documentation that details the structure of the
agreement between the Council and Grenadier has been published on the
Council's website and/or is available from the Land Registry or Companies
House.

Please demonstrate in what ways Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest
Company is a Social Enterprise for the benefit of the local community?
Please clarify in what ways it is not merely an extension of the
commercial, private and business interests that Dr Mark Dixon and the
companies that he controls including Grenadier already have in place key
with tenants Edge Watersports and Michael Caines? - The Articles of
Association for the Community Interest Company state that the company is
not established or conducted for private gain. As above, all documentation
is available.

I hope this information is helpful but, if you feel dissatisfied with the
way we have responded to your request, please contact our Monitoring
Officer, Mr Henry Gordon Lennox, to request an internal review
[1][email address]

You may also approach the Information Commissioner for advice at
[2]www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely,

Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

[3]www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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Deborah Russell

Dear East Devon District Council,

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

Councillor Paul Millar has made some attempt to answer this FOI via Social Media. He provided more detail to my FOI than provided here, in, as I understand it his new role as a director of Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company and a Councillor. However, although he asserted this via social media and also announced that there was another new director, according to Companies House, Cllr Stott and Cllr Williamson are still in place. Are you able to provide more detail on the £200k that Grenadier made a good business case for according to Councillor Millar? Are you also able to clarify the amount of interest chargeable by Grenadier on the loan and other charges that the company is making to the CIC.

There appears to be some splitting of identity here, that may lead to a conflict of interest. For example when is Grenadier acting as a commercial business and when is it acting as the majority shareholder of the CIC? Are you able to offer reassurance and evidence that a valuable community asset is being utilised for community benefit rather than commercial gain?

I am writing to request an internal review of East Devon District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Was independent advice sought on the governance of Queen's Drive Exmouth Community Interest Company'.

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

Yours faithfully,

Deborah Russell

FOI EDDC, East Devon District Council

Dear Mrs Russell,

Thank you for your request for an internal review.

You are generally asking for explanation and clarification on aspects of
this project which do not fall within the scope of FOI and nor do they
pertain to the answers that were given in respect of your request for
information and to which the internal review should relate. In terms of
seeking answer to the new queries you have raised you would be better
placed to speak to Richard Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive Development,
Regeneration and Partnership who would be happy to discuss these queries
further with you. Richard‘s email is [email address].
Notwithstanding this suggestion, should you wish your latest
correspondence to be progressed as an FOI then we will need to treat it as
a new request as the detail sought goes beyond the scope of your original
request. If you do wish this to proceed as an FOI then I would be grateful
if you could confirm accordingly but in so doing I would also ask you to
consider re-framing the questions to focus on seeking information we hold
rather than seeking explanation or clarification.

With regards to your request for an internal review, you have not
specified what, in relation to the FOI response you received from us, has
not been satisfactorily answered. Please clarify what aspects of our
response you are not satisfied with and we will progress your request for
an internal review.

I hope this information is helpful but if you would like to discuss this
further please contact our Monitoring Officer, Mr Henry Gordon Lennox
([email address]) who will endeavour to help you.

You may also approach the Information Commissioner for advice at
[1]www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely,

Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

[2]www.eastdevon.gov.uk

Follow us on [3]Facebook and [4]Twitter

[5]Subscribe to your East Devon Update for regular news and information
about what’s happening at East Devon District Council. Choose which topics
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[6]Email disclaimer

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