Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Case 7 Planning Reform Transparency & Probity

It is rare to report a step in the right direction by Bradford Council however we see a leap forward here with recording and video footage of planning and other important meetings

Why it is important to see inside the City Hall 

This is important for 3 reasons

(1)  to ensure procedures are followed on the day and that Order and
(2) Conduct is maintained during the procedure
(3) That all facts are legitimately considerred during what vis a duty or due process engaged by the Authority which after all is only an Authority if it maintains fairlness   and adheres to those statutory duties which are in effect delegated powers . No one delegates to an idiot

In Fairness ?

All footage should remain uneditted however should not preclude associated  public comment to be interpreted as editing

We will therefore add video to this Casework to exemplify the value of it and give the authority opportunity to adopt lessons learned

We thought we would save the Authority consulatation fees and make some preliminary observations here

It is clear Councillors dont like there ugly mug being recorded but hey you take a job in Public Service Expect it - after all you are there to earn your 14 K+  worth of tax payers money for your service - so lesson 1 do your homework and be prepared to work in the public domain and uphold the councils constitution  - frre speech and contribution by all . One view many minds......

Whats the Problem ?

  • There is currently an interesting trend at the moment of Ward Councillors and in other cases MP's intervening on the day of the panel in regard to submitting documents which is a liberty that an objector from the public is not allowed to do . The consequence of this is to introduce bias

  • There is also a trend of Chair  allowing ward councillors considerable time to object to the detriment of public representation

  • Order of business should not be prejudicial to those seeking right to speak see below 

  • There appears to be no independent monitoring of planning meetings to check that procedures are being fairly implemented  and it should not be assumed given some of the monumental filings that have arose in chambers that this automatically follows . An independent systen of montorring and QC checks should be introduced 

  • That in the case of the Authority making representation on their own land , objectors are not given the same facilities as councill officers and solicitors via PC and Powerpoint to make their objections equally as clear thereby biassing the panels view 

  • Not unique but particularly relevant to Bradford Planning Considerations are not the place for party Politics it is a decision made on a fairly objective set of ground rules which within Bradford appear to be overtly bent toward party politics OR individual ward councillors personal overview which when valid (and that is not always the case) , is only one small component of the the decision making process

  • The example cited below shows a position where substantial concern is given an application with the Authorities vested interest in selling it with permission , and a party political view to effecting the Royds masterplan  to which the council is a Joint Venture Company . You can not be judge jury and hangman and thence to add injury to insult conduct the outcome behind the town hall door 
Poor Exemplar ......

I am exemplifying this post with video footage where an objector booked time on the day to speak at a planning panel did so prior by email , deliberately fillibusted  we believe and left to 5 mins before the end of time  . The purpose of the objection was to submit a point of law . During the session councillors where given numerous slots to speak and some casework relating to matters extended well over the morning dispersing other business and to which their was substantial  bias to the hearing of other applications . When the objector made the Chair aware he had booked to present his 5 minutes at 5 to one , a jibbering councillor jumped up and said sit done you cant speak , he was not the chair but would have been better advised to sit in it doing what was not properly his role . Despite adequate time left the chair refused to accept representation stating he had already taken 5  minutes of objection elsewhere. This is a materially significant case as it relates to a play area , with existing planning permission , and would require a COU Change of Use , it was advertised , notice placed and then withdarwn and resubmitted but with no new notice placed on site witnessed.. The land where planning permission was sought belonged to the council . It had not gone through any consultative UDP consultation as it was not designated as Housing Land and clearly a refusal to consider the point of law by way of objection would make this case automatically judicially re viewable at full planning . More importantly when as likely a judge would uphold the case then the developer could suite the local authority for many millions . This is clearly an example of party politics at work in the planning system


Additionally it is now council practice to remove any Record of Site Plans and planning objections from applications still remaining in the Public Domain on the Planning Portal which may still have a substantive bearing in any further consideration to Full Consent , presumption on full consent should not be made without full consideration of all material facts given the dynamic nature of the environnment, Additionally all records should remain in the public domain in the event of a legal challenge

Other Questionable Business - Licencing Panels & Village Greens

Woodside Village Green Whats To Hide ?

FOI relating to the Appointment of Chair of Non Statutory Public Inquiry as to whether advice was given or taken by the same to the council in her Independent Role as Commons Land Advisor 

Having considered this request I am writing to inform you that I have decided to decline it. My reason for this is that I consider that any communications between the Council’s legal team and the barristers instructed in this matter are exempt on the grounds that they are subject to legal professional privilege (section 42). I consider there is in this connection an overriding public interest in ensuring that communications with external lawyers are not disclosed to third parties in order ensure the Council’s in any legal proceedings which may follow decisions made by the Council are not prejudiced.

Any formal directions issued by the non statutory Inspector in relation to the application and subsequent Public Inquiry with regard to the village green hearing were disclosed to all interested parties in connection with those proceedings. I believe you will have received these papers as part of those proceedings.

Roughly translated we wont tell you even though you have a right to know because you will take us to court and win certainly not a reasonable defence for any act or ommision made by the Council or the poor quality or interpretation of tha law given by the council


I am writing in response to your prompt but brief reply to my Freedom of Information request sent to you on the 16th 3rd 2010.

However after considering your reply I would now request that this matter is given an internal review by a Senior Member Preferably with Legal Knowledge the reasons for which I will set out below.

Because your reply is somewhat vague and a little unclear I will try to keep matters as simple as I possibly can within the context of my reply.

The Request I made to you on the 16th 3rd 2010 was as follows.

I asked for any and all forms of correspondence /communications, letters emails ,fax and records in relation to all dialogue between any member legal or other employed by Bradford Metropolitan Council (whether or not a third party) and any member of 9 Stone Buildings London. In particular any form of correspondence to or from Mr. XXXXXX and Miss XXXXXX in relation to the application to register land as a town or village green application VG10 made to Bradford Metropolitan Council on the 1st April 2005.

Your reply which I received on 26th 3rd 2010 was as follows

Having considered this request I am writing to inform you that I have decided to decline it. My reason for this is that I consider that any communications between the councils legal team and the Barristers instructed in this matter are exempt on the grounds that they are subject to legal professional privilege (section 42) I consider that there is in this connection an overriding public interest in ensuring that communications with external lawyers are not disclosed to third parties .In order to ensure the council's in any legal proceedings which may follow decisions made by the council are not prejudiced.


I would put it to you that whilst Mr.XXXXX and Miss XXXX may indeed be Barristers they were,infact engaged by the council with the sole function of determining an application to register land as a town of village green,1and not for the purpose of providing legal advice in the context that you suggest .

Whilst Section 42 sets out an exemption from the right to know for information protected by LPP. Its purpose is to protect the communications between lawyers and their clients for the purpose of obtaining legal advice, or documents created by or for lawyers for the “dominant” (main) purpose of litigation .In regards to this matter there is and never has been no case of litigation that is a matter of fact .The purpose of Obtaining any advice or giving any instruction was one that was required by law .As set out in the Commons Registration Act (1965)as amended (2006) .

The Section 42 Legal Privilege that you refer would be in this case between you the council and your Barrister Mr.XXXXXXX who was engaged by the council to provide Legal advice to you(the council).I also put it to you that your claim that “communications with external lawyers are not disclosed to third parties in order to ensure the council's in any legal proceedings which may follow decisions made by the council are not prejudiced.” is incorrect and even if this had been applicable it would be voided on the grounds that this exception only applies when the information has not been shared with a third party, a public authority’s employees may be considered to be third parties and therefore not covered by LPP.

Mr.XXXXXX  was appointed by the Council as registration authority to hold a non statutory public inquiry into the application and to report in writing to the Council with his recommendation whether the Council should accede to or reject the application.

However Mr. XXXXX  Became indisposed and XXXXXXX was appointed to do the same.

Any application to register land under the Commons Registration Act must be treated in accordance with the act and once an application is received by a registration authority and its status is to be determined and once that application is given a preliminary VG number in our case VG 10 then until such time the application is either granted or refused that application is granted VG protection.(Section 20 CRA2section 2) “(b)


I would like to point out that the “public interest” is that which serves the interests of the public. Clearly outweighs any non disclosure and is not as you suggest a Qualified exemption neither I might add are Exemptions of which it falls into. Therefore to imply that s42 applies to the above correspondence is to attempt to remove from the public domain that information showing part of the process directly related to the function of the council acting as Commons Registration Authority and its duty as a public authority a duty that is required in law .

I would therefore ask that the decision to refuse my request is reviewed and would suggest that particular attention is paid to awareness guidance 20, 21, 3, 4, which can be found in the guidance section for public authorities on the Information Commissioners website

I look forward to your reply within the specified 20 days receipt of this letter

Also of Interest 

For those old enough to remember Poulsens Defence  "More Sinned Against than Sinned" A millstone that still remains around the neck of Bradford

A Brief History of Sin ...

Mr Poulsen

Mr Newcastle

Mr South Bradford you know who you are 

Engagement & Social Media - Guidelines Needed 

As part of wider democratic process we call for clearer guidelines on the use Social media amongst Councillors - when you use a Cllr Tag on a Twitter or discuss council business feed you are representing the City Of Bradford and its consititutional Values . You are subject to the Members Code of Conduct and the direction given accross the UK on the use of Social Media . Such advise states Social media should encourage wider social engagement . It befits neither the code of Conduct or the guidance to  Block those using media because you do not like a constituents point of view or it is contrary to a political view -  it is not properly a function of a councillor to discourage an open or democratic debate

8 Standards Committee 8.1 The Standards Committee is established under the Localism Act 2011. 8.1.1 Members must agree to follow a code of conduct aimed at ensuring high standards in the way they undertake their duties. The Standards Committee, supported by the Monitoring Officer, offers training, advice and support to members on the code of conduct.

The New Deal Programme 

Heres Billies Contribution to David Greens request for public contribution - Clean up your act Mr Green

Your rights

 10 The Public’s Rights 10.1 The public have a number of rights in their dealings with the Council. These are set out in more detail in Article 3. Some of these are legal rights, whilst others depend on the Council’s own processes. 

10.2 Where members of the public use specific council services, as a parent of a school pupil for example, they have additional rights. These are not covered in this Constitution. All members of the public have the right to:

• Vote at local elections if they are registered. 
• Contact their local councillor about any matter of concern. 
• Examine and purchase a copy of this Constitution. 
• Attend meetings of the Council and its committees except where, for example, personal or confidential matters are being discussed.
• Petition the Council under the terms of the Local Government Act 2000 to request a referendum on a mayoral form of executive. 
• Collectively with others present a petition to a meeting of the full Council. 
• Ask a question, having first given the required notice, at a meeting of the full Council. 
• Find out, from the Executive’s Forward Plan, what key decisions are to be discussed by the Executive or determined by officers.
• Contribute in the Council’s decision-making arrangements by making representations to the appropriate contact officer.
• Be present at meetings of the Executive when key decisions are being discussed or decided. 
• See non-confidential reports and background papers, and any record of decisions made by the Council and the Executive. 
• Complain to the Council about a range of matters under the Council’s complaints procedure.
• Complain to the Ombudsman if they think the Council has not followed its procedures properly. The Council’s own complaints procedure should first be followed. 
• Complain to the Standards Committee if they have evidence which they think shows that a councillor has acted improperly and not in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct. • Inspect the Council’s accounts and make their views known to the Council’s external auditor.

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