The West Lancashire Borough Council has no plausibility, no credibility, in matters concerning Freedom of Information and or Transparency. “First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) Information Rights. Appeal Reference: EA/2018/0219. Mr Gavin Rattray. Re West Lancashire Borough Council Second Respondent”.
Mr Rattray had expectations he would receive “Copies of all legal and non-agreements (sic) and accommodations between WLBC and United Utilities made since 2005 concerning the local plans/local development frameworks”. And “Copies of all communications, notes taken, meeting agendas and minutes meetings between UU and WLBC”, and “Copies of all communications, notes taken, meeting agendas and minutes meetings between WLBC and the environment agency concerning surface water flooding (including sewers) and water management in Burscough and its outlying areas of New Lane, Crabtree Lane and Martin Mere”.
WLBC had complained that “voluminous amounts of correspondence have caused a disproportionate level of disruption to the Council which is not a good use of the Council’s limited resources and which has distracted officers from the day-to-day running of council business”.
“The Freedom of Information Act received Royal Assent on 30 November 2000 and came into force on 1 January 2005. From January 2005, any person or body resident in or outside the UK, has the right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, subject only to the limitations imposed by the Act and other legislation. The legislation is designed to promote greater openness and transparency throughout the public sector and applies to all public authorities, including West Lancashire Borough Council”.
“Open data in the public sector is about increasing transparency and sharing the information we hold with the wider community. “You are free to use any of the data on this section of the website in a wide variety of applications. We license use in accordance with the same terms and conditions as specified by data.gov.uk (external link). “The Local Government Transparency Code places requirements on local authorities to publish information in order to increase democratic accountability and make it easier for local people to contribute to the local decision-making process and help shape public services. Further information and a copy of the code is available on gov.uk (external link). “.
Readers will note “information” and “transparency” are quoted in both WLBC statements.
Now, anyone expecting WLBC to comply with the requirement of Rattray and the First Tier Tribunal will be sorely disappointed. WLBC will persist in claiming vexation. Indeed, nobody is immune from that doctrine. Rosie Cooper MP has joined the select WLBC vexatious club. Read her letter here.
The WLBC history of the BPGC is sordid. It claims there is nothing to respond to. In its wisdom WLBC privatised control of the BPGC for an annual payment to it of £25,000 by DCT Leisure Ltd. Had due diligence been applied WLBC would have been aware DCT Leisure Ltd was in VAT payment arrears to HMRC and had failed to pay redundancy payments to staff, but it took the public dissolution of DCT Leisure Ltd to expose the WLBC failures.
Notwithstanding that shambles, WLBC Leisure Department allowed the landfill for royalties partnership with Serco Leisure Operating Ltd and Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd whose director Jonathon Snellgrove, awarded a planning permission by WLBC, had failed with another company, UK Sports Parks Ltd, that was charged with breach of planning by Knowsley Council and convicted in absence by Liverpool Magistrates and fined £9,000 that was never paid. Nor was £100,000 paid to HMRC for VAT. Inefficiency and lack of due diligence allowed it to contaminate this borough council.