Posted by: westlancashirerecord | January 24, 2018

Wyre Group Challenges Cllr Moon Lack Of Statutory Register Details

Wyre Council Residents Concerns and Action Group is a 4,000 strong group of independent people who keep a close eye on their council  and its members. Being aware of Tory Cllr Moon and his tenancy of a Wyre Preesall ward seat having also been elected in Hesketh-with-Becconsall West Lancashire, they wrote to WLBC.

15 December 2017 to WLBC Dear Sir/Madam (Re Cllr. Paul Moon)

“We write in regard to the above named Councillor. It appears Cllr Moon has failed to maintain his entries in your Pecuniary Interests Register.

“We have forwarded screenshots in a separate email, which evidence his response to the same questions asked on both your questionnaire and that of the other council he represents, being Wyre Council. Clearly there are anomalies, and the recent update you will note he added on 29th November has ironically likely only occurred after our meeting with the CEO of Wyre Council, Garry Payne, which took place on 22nd November, when we pointed out such shortfalls to him.

“It seems Cllr Moon needs to be made aware of his responsibilities with each and every council he represents.

“Finally, we also note the stated Councillor has only attended 2 out of 6 meetings he was expected to attend, although we note his absence seems to have been accepted. Can we ask should it be standard practice for this information to be publicly available for all Local Authorities online please?

“We look forward to your response.
Yours faithfully, Ashley Sørensen
For and on behalf of WCRCAG”

9 January 2018 from WLBC  To: Ashley Sorensen
“I refer to your emails of 15 December 2017, which are stated to be made as a request under Freedom of Information. I have noted your comments and screenshots provided in relation to Cllr Moon’s Register of Interests and in respect of meetings he was expected to attend. All councillors are provided with suitable assistance and training opportunities in regard to compliance with their responsibilities, including those under the Members’ Code of Conduct.

“In response to your question on attendance recording: “Should it be standard practice for this information to be publicly available for all Local Authorities online please?”. Local authorities record the attendance of those present at meetings in the minutes of the relevant meeting. Minutes are open for public inspection, however West Lancashire Borough Council displays the minutes on the public website and it is understood most Councils are moving towards this. West Lancashire also includes various statistics in relation to attendance at meetings on its website, however this is not a requirement”.

On 20 December 2017 Wyre Borough Council wrote to Mr Sorenson. “I refer to your email below that has been submitted to the council under the Freedom of information Act 2000. However, your email is not a request for recorded information held within the terms of that Act nor the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. Your email repeats the complaints raised in an earlier email dated 23rd November 2017 addressed to Garry Payne, which I answered on 24th November 2017.

“I am aware that based upon the frequency and content of your emails that you have been held to be vexatious under the Council’s policy and I understand you have asked for this decision to be reviewed. Accordingly, I will not be entering into further correspondence with you on this matter”.

The subject of these particular emails was common to many areas including Burscough, Halsall, and Ormskirk, West Lancashire “Floods across Wyre, which occurred on the evening of 22nd November 2017, who exactly was responsible for ensuring sandbags were stockpiled, and in adequate, sufficient locations? What was there/is there to ever stop a permanent stock pile of sandbags, so that if this ever occurs again, the council is in a “headstart” position rather than the farce as ensued that evening, and on your watch?

“I ask these questions now despite Wyre Council having already gained experience of extreme flooding from Storm Desmond and Eva, in recent times too! People were desperately driving around in an attempt to hold back floods entering their home, whilst others to prevent further damage in homes already under water, only to discover upon arrival to advertised locations there were none left!!! – is this good enough, truly!?

“I would also like to ask do you feel it was good enough that your phones were neither manned, nor even a recorded message was left when residents rang Wyre Council’s office that evening? After all, this is an area with a high proportion of elderly residents, many of whom don’t even have and or can afford internet access”.

It is a sad day when council officers should decide that desperately concerned residents should be declared vexatious over complaints about poor council response to flooding, something that seems to be common these days? But perhaps the only flood that should matter is 4,000 members of WCRCAG writing individual letters to Wyre Council? As it happens Mr Sorenson had another shot in his locker by writing “The council seem to be judge and jury on all matters – telling me when matters fall under an FOI request (when they don’t so a delay can occur to take the heat out of situations), whilst also stating they don’t fall under an FOI request when they actually do, so as to avoid the answers, now even extending to the new low that is a policy that does not apply to me.


“With respect, please note the term ‘vexatious’, means ‘causing or tending to cause annoyance, frustration, or worry’. What is annoying or frustrating about asking questions I am entitled to ask, other than the fact your council do not want to answer them of course?

There is no reference within the policy you rely upon relating to ‘enquiries’ whatsoever and is therefore an excuse to avoid answers-It is an irrelevant policy here. I am sorry you are being controlled too, which is apparent from the way you are no doubt compelled to respond by the controlling management style of your CEO, Garry Payne, who passed the buck on these questions when he referred me to you. Since when were ‘enquiries’, which ask for mere information ever called ‘complaints’, if not purely in attempts to silence people?” We wait to hear if 4,000 letters DID reach the Wyre Borough Council.


Responses

  1. Goodness, Wyre council make West Lancashire look like a model of probity! No wonder Moon gets away with it.

    • Some people always do, while the decent and respectable hard working people keep on working for their communities.

  2. Those accused of being “vexatious” should contact the Infomation Commission immediately with all FOI submissions and replies and make a formal complaint as soon as possible.Too many authorities use this wording as a protective “cloak” from open and transparent requirements
    https://ico.org.uk

    • This is true, especially when the authority concerned preaches transparency but seldom practices it to the full extent of the law. Readers of this blog only have to look at the articles about the secrecy surrounding the destination of the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill income, questions about it always refused an answer other than “commercial in confidence”.


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