FOI request (FOI223296)
HS/DS/17/00194 and other matters
Requested Tue 17 October 2017
Responded Tue 17 October 2017
My email was about good faith. The Council claims to act in it, but shows few signs of doing so. You [plural] remain unable or unwilling to explain how an unchartered ecologist is just as good as a chartered one in the matter of appraising Speckled Wood.
To suggest a charge of £120 for doing your job looks shifty in the extreme, an evasion of accountability and legitimate public interest. Cllr Forward, lead member for housing, moved the motion at a cabinet committee meeting on 5th September 2016 and stated:
However, we won't introduce the charges until the level of information available online is sufficient for people to find answers for themselves.
That threshold has not been met.
The £120 charge is also a breach of the Nolan Principles, such as the one about acting in the public interest, and the one on Objectivity:.
Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
The one about Openness is good too, and the one about upholding these Principles.
(By the way, the HBC Constitution could be be clarified to explain that the Principles of Public Life apply to Officers as well as Members. Part 5 invokes them.)
* * *
My FOI requests of 22 August stand:
1 . a) To what was the Principal Planner referring to in stating that there had been some criticism of the report
which she said was inaccurate?
b) How was it inaccurate?.
2. The application was assessed independently with regard to affordable housing:
a) Who by?
b) Were these person(s) qualified?
c) If so, how?
3. Please send me a copy of the Hastings Borough Council Act 1988, which is not in the public domain.
Please accept my apologies for the slight delay in responding.
1a and 1b are considered to be a request for analysis of the approved application, rather than a request for information. The Officer's report for the planning application is publicly available on the Council's website.
Upon receipt of the original email dated 22nd August, clarification was sought to ascertain whether it was a complaint or a query about a previously approved application. At this time it was advised that, if the email was a request for analysis in respect of a previously approved application, there would be a fee payable (£120+VAT) for an officer to investigate the matters raised and respond accordingly.
The Planning Department are happy to investigate the matters raised as part of the query, however, as per the 2017/2018 non statutory fees and charges schedule, advice and queries in relation to previously approved applications, require a fee of £120+VAT.2a - c - We can advise that the scheme included no affordable housing units or financial contribution. This is due to the scheme falling below the trigger set by Central Government. 3 - Please see attached copy of the Hastings Borough Council Act 1988 as requested, the plan attached to this Act is too large to send via email therefore will be sent by post.
Freedom of Information