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Dear Mr Garbutt,
I am writing in response to your request of 31st October 2008 for information about planning case F/TH/08/0400, GOSE salaries and planning responsibilities in the South East.
I am able to provide some of the information you have requested, this information is laid out below. I have broken down the information according to the specific questions you have asked as clarified in your email of 6th November 2008.
1 - Who at DCLG is reviewing Planning case F/TH/08/0400?
Planning application F/TH/08/0400 has been considered and the Secretary of State's decision was issued on 17 October 2008. Once issued, the Secretary of State's decision can only be challenged by application to the High Court for judicial review".
2 - What are the top 20 salaries and pensions - highest individual amounts?
The following figures are released to you by a range of salaries paid and the number of staff at that range.
1 x Grade 3 at £97,446 (based on the average of GO RD salaries) (Employers pension contribution 25.5%)
6.5 x Grade 5 between £69,001 and £85,313 (Employers pension contribution 25.5%)
13 x Grade 6 between £40,333 and £69,730 (Employers pension contribution 23.2%)
We have not provided the list of top twenty salaries at GOSE because this information could be put together with information about GOSE's structure, which is already in the public domain to allow the identification of individuals' salaries. This constitutes individual personal data under section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act, and therefore cannot be disclosed.
There are four types of Civil Service pensions, Classic, Classic Plus, Premium and NUVOS and they are worked out using the following formulae.
Classic = 1/80 x pensionable earnings x reckonable service. The lump sum for classic service is 3 x the pension.
Premium = 1/60 x final pensionable earnings x reckonable service. In premium there is no automatic lump sum, but there is a choice to convert some of the pension into a lump sum.
Classic Plus pension is worked out as in classic for service up to 30 September 2002, and as in premium for service from 1 October 2002, but using final pensionable earnings in both parts of the calculation.
NUVOS pension = 2.3% x pensionable earnings each year up to 31 March, increased for inflation by the Retail Price Index.
3- What is the overlap between planning, GOSE and local Council planning officers
The Government Office for the South East (GOSE) acts on behalf of the Secretary of State on land use planning matters in the South East.
Under the town and country planning legislation, local planning authorities have been given the primary responsibility for the day to day administration of planning control in their areas. They are generally best placed to make judgements about the control of development in their area and they have a duty to consider planning matters in the knowledge of local conditions, taking into account the policies in the development plan for the area in question and any material considerations such as representations received.
Certain planning applications have to be referred to the Secretary of State under various Directions, and the Secretary of State also has the power to call-in planning applications for her own determination, although such action is generally taken only if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. The Government's Policy on Call In is given on the GOSE website.
The GOSE website also contains pages of information about local development plans, planning generally, plus types of planning casework and Directions. For example: permitted development, compulsory purchase, listed buildings, Departures Directions and Playing Field Directions, to name but a few. This can all be found on www.gose.gov.uk under `Planning'.
4 - How do DCLG, GOSE, SEERA, SEEDA and Planning Office headcounts, salaries and duties inter-relate?
Headcounts and salaries are determined separately for each organisation and therefore do not inter-relate.
CLG has a role in setting Government Office headcounts as they are our sponsor Department. These are negotiated between the two parties and reflect the work we are expected to do as an office with the resources we have. BERR have a similar role in setting SEEDA headcounts on the same basis. Salaries for DCLG, GOSE and SEEDA are agreed separately through negotiation between Treasury, the organisations management teams and unions representing the workforce.
SOUTH EAST ENGLAND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (SEEDA)
Government set up the RDAs in 1999 to co-ordinate regional economic development & regeneration, and to enable the regions to improve their relative competitiveness and reduce the imbalances that exist within and between the regions.
SEEDA is one of nine Regional Development Agencies in England and reports to Government through the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (the sponsoring department). SEEDA's Chairman is appointed by the Prime Minister and Board are appointed by the BERR Secretary Of State.
SEEDA's Key Tasks
SEEDA is responsible for drawing up the South East's Regional Economic Strategy known as `the RES'. The RES was revised in 2007 and sets out a 10-year framework for economic development. It is an important document not only because it determines how SEEDA will develop its policies and spend its money, but it also influences the policy and spending plans of many other partnerships and organisations eg. local authorities, local learning & skills councils and the South East Regional Assembly.
In partnership with GOSE and the Regional Assembly, SEEDA aims to:
promote business enterprise, competitiveness and innovation, eg. through the network of enterprise hubs that link business to universities;
ensure that that the training needs of businesses are known and met;
help attract the right type of international investment to the region - with a view to bringing much needed jobs to poorer parts whilst enabling sustainable growth and competitiveness in others;
address regeneration needs of deprived communities so they can contribute to, and benefit from, the general prosperity of the region;
promote sustainable use of land by bringing previously developed sites back into use for business, housing, recreation and generally to improve the environment.
SOUTH EAST ENGLAND REGIONAL ASSEMBLY (SEERA)
Established in 1999, The South East Regional Assembly (SEERA, but generally known as `The Assembly') is one of eight voluntary regional chambers in England, ie. they are not elected. The Assembly aims to be the representative voice of the region and comprises 111 members, including councillors nominated by the region's local authorities, and representatives from social & environmental groups. The Assembly is funded by local authorities and Central Government.
To improve accountability in the South East. It is the designated body to which SEEDA must report by statute. To help them do this, the Assembly runs a series of select committees that examine SEEDA's performance in certain areas.
To cooperate with SEEDA and other regional partners in the delivery of the RES.
From April 2001 the Assembly took over responsibility for preparing Regional Planning Guidance (RPG), working on this with GOSE.
The Assembly is also responsible for drawing up the South East's Regional Transport Strategy, Regional Housing Board, and has a leadership role in ensuring delivery of the RES.
SUMMARY OF ROLES (GOSE/SEEDA/SEERA)
In summary, the roles of GOSE, SEEDA and the Assembly are as follows:
GOSE is the link between the region and central Government. It promotes Government policy and takes forward Government-sponsored programmes and initiatives in the region, informing Ministers of local & regional issues when making decisions. Unlike SEEDA and the Regional Assembly, GO-SE staff are Civil Servants.
SEEDA is the region's economic development agency funded by the Government. It is a non-departmental public body.
The Assembly is the representative voice of the region. It provides regional accountability for SEEDA and has responsibility for the region's planning guidance, transport strategy, sustainable development, urban renaissance, social inclusion and health, as well as having a permanent presence in Europe via its Brussels office, which it shares with SEEDA.
5 - Do any other public bodies and quangos have similar remits?
We are not aware of any other organisations, although the Planning Inspectorate do have a planning role. Their main work is the processing of planning and enforcement appeals and holding inquiries into local development plans. They also deal with a wide variety of other planning related casework including listed building consent appeals, advertisement appeals, and reporting on planning applications. More information can be found on their website at www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk
Government Office aims to be as helpful as possible in the way it deals with requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. If, however, you are not satisfied with the way in which your request has been handled or the outcome, you may appeal by requesting an internal review within two calendar months of the date of this letter. Information about Government Office review procedures and how to apply for an internal review of your case is contained in the enclosed leaflet. This also explains your right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner (ICO) for a decision in the event that you remain dissatisfied following the authority's review. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the internal review procedure described in the leaflet.
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.