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Review of the decision of the Council made on 20 November 2009
Sent: 04/03/2010 10:39:00
Subject: development agreement

Hi 2k
I have now come to the conclusion that I am never going to be told by
council officers – officially and in writing – if I am going to get the
development agreement or not and so intend to move onto the next issue for you to
resolve, or not as the case may be.
Before I do so I should like to point out that the way in which the
council handles foi requests leaves much to be desired and from my point of view
I can only view this as a deliberate intention to confuse and delay
I would rather not go down the complaint road on this one but would prefer
you to put your own house in order.
The main problem is the way that the council responds to emails, where
obviously all responses should come from the foi@ email address I have had
responses from numerous addresses, often with the wrong reference numbers and
the email I sent deleted, so it is almost impossible to tell what it is
that is being replied to.
As an example 1.75k uses at least 5 email addresses and often his
replies don’t appear to relate to any question or request that I have made,
in fact several of them seem to be about completely different projects that
the council is engaged in – even in other towns - than the Pleasurama
project that I have been enquiring about.
Even more to the point on several occasions when I have replied to one of
his email addresses I have had it bounced back as the address no longer
I have even been inadvertently sent emails from officers, which were
evidently supposed to be only sent to other officers, which show a deliberate
intention to divert my requests from the officers for whom they were
Most seriously though is the waste of public money here, by this I mean
that several highly paid officers have wasted a considerable amount of time
dealing with my request by not dealing with it.
I should also point out that there is some futility in all of this as I
will probably be able to obtain the document from the district auditor when
he is preparing the audit, as you are no doubt aware.
Something that you may consider is that from my perspective it appears
that several of the most senior officers within the council are avoiding
making uncomfortable decisions based on common sense – possibly as this may
reflect badly on their future careers, I can’t really think of another reason –
and instead of working towards improvement of the district, they seem to
be engaged in keeping the plates spinning – delaying the resolution of
impediments to vital projects – until they can move on to another highly paid
post in another authority.
The maritime Museum being an example, where every time some sort of
resolution seems in sight, officers then form yet another committee of
essentially the same councillors to defer their decision to what is essentially
themselves at a later date.
Perhaps they are worried about being the cause of stopping this iconic
building being available to some whim of a future harbour operator that may
have some other potential use for it.

Best regards Michael

In a message dated 04/03/2010 14:33:23 GMT Standard Time, writes:

Ref No:11833 / 1121497

Dear Mr Child

Thank you for your communication received on 7 December 2009 where you
requested a review of the decision of the Council made on 20 November 2009
in relation to your original request for information (dated 23 October
2009) in respect of the Pleasurama site.

Thanet District Council has now conducted a review and the original
decision is upheld. For ease of reference I will explain my decision by
reference to each the six points in your request. I also consider that the
access regime that applies to your request is the Environmental Information
Regualtions 2004 (EIR) and consequently, any reference below to 'the
Regulations' is a reference to these provisions.

1. You requested the CDM assessment for the site . The Council confirmed
that it held a copy of the pre-construction CDM assessment and supplied
you with a copy. Your complaint is that what you really wanted was the CDM
assessment for the construction phase. The Council does not hold this
information and so it follows that a copy cannot be suppied to you.

2. You requested a copy of the maintenance schedule for the cliff facade.
The Council confirmed that there is no formal inspection and maintenance
schedule for the cliff facade. You appear to be content with this response
- in the sense that you accept the veracity of the information supplied.

3.You requested details of any proposed weight limits for maintenance
and emergency vehicles using the surfaced pedestrian walkway, top side
adjacent to the cliff. You were advised that works had been programmed to
restrict vehicular access to the upper promenade and that a weight restriction
would then be established and enforced - although emergency vehicles would
be exempt. The Council presently hold no further information beyond that
already communicated to you.

4. You requested that the Council informs you of the distance between the
cliff facade and any prospective building development that is deemed safe
in terms of safety and access for maintenance. The Council provided you
with information that the it had retained a 4m wide strip of land adjacent to
the foot of the cliff facade and therefore, buildings could be erected on,
or seaward of, this 4 metre line. Your complaint is that the information
provided did not answer your question. For the avoidance of doubt, I can
confirm that the Council does not hold any recorded information concerning a
deemed safe distance between the cliff facade and any proposed building
development on the site. Moreover, the the Regulations do not require
the Council to bring such information into existence in response to a request

5. You requested an estimate of the serviceable life of thecliff facade.
The Council informed you that the seviceable life of the cliff facade had
increased significantly as a result of the remedial works carried out in
2008/9 - and in any case would depend upon the levels of future
inspections, investment and maintenance. You now dispute the accuracy of this. For the
avoidance of doubt, I can confirm that the Council holds no recorded
information estimating the serviceable life of the facade other than any
contained in the inspection report. I believe you have a copy of this document
or at least are familiar with its contents.

6.Finally, you asked how the exposed base of the facade and evident lack
of foundations was to be addressed. In summary, the Council informed you
that the visual evidence did not support your view that the foundations of
the facade were inadequate. Again, you dispute this. I have approached this
issue by considering whether the Council holds any recorded information
that acknowledges and addresses how the exposed base of the cliff facade and
the allegedly inadequate foundations, will be dealt with. It does not,
hardly suprising given that the Council (rightly or wrongly) does not consider
that there is a problem with the foundations of the cliff facade.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’
s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Head of Legal & Democratic Services

From: <>
Date: 04/03/2010 15:55
Subject: Re: Thanet District Council: FOI Appeal Outcome

Hi 1.5k, first confirmation of receipt of your response re foi request
Ref No: 11833 / 1121497
Here are my initial observations
1 I asked for the CDM assessment for the work that was going on there
then, not during the £1m cliff repair contract, nor during the construction
phase, but in between I attach a photo of the council’s contractor hauling a
bucket of concrete above his head without a hard hat on.
My point here being that I believe the council should have some sort of
health and safety control relating to its long-term contractor and if neither
the contractor nor the council has a CDM assessment for this work I would
ask you to point out the consequences, if say the bucket of concrete had
landed on his head * that is in your capacity as head of legal services.
2 When I was told there was no inspection schedule for the façade I
inspected it myself and some of the problems that I pointed out to the council
have been addressed, what concerns me here though is that I was told by 1.75k in one of his responses to the ongoing correspondence that the bulge
in the cliff was not there when the £1m contract started.
This is plainly untrue, if necessary I can dig out photos of the bulge
before the cliff face was coated.
My point here is that there was some negligence involved in signing off
the contract, there is also the obvious concern that the original contractor
wasn’t called back to rectify the work.
The problem is that the façade hasn’t been properly repaired, the
blockwork hasn’t been repointed and many cracks have appeared, so unless the plan
is to have an annual contract to weed it, it could be worth getting some
independent firm to assess the work before the developer does and enters into
expensive litigation with the council.
3 Heavy vehicles are using this now, with respect this is a serious safety
issue and needs dealing with now.
4 My understanding is that the council will be responsible for maintenance
of the site, when the repairs ware done in January it was obvious that 4
metres wouldn’t be sufficient even for a relatively small repair, again
photo on request.
5 I would draw your attention to the April 2005 principal condition report
that you may have overlooked and I believe says “short serviceable life”
something I believe needs clarification before the development starts.
6 I believe the point being missed here is that the façade doesn’t support
the cliff but is there to prevent weathering, so foundations or not it
remains an unsupported chalk cliff 22 metres high, the intention is to build a
22 metre residential development 4 metres away from it.
I would point out to you that the council has a duty of care and would ask
you so seek clarification regarding their compliance in this instance.
I will decide if there is any mileage in applying to the information
commissioner and inform you of my decision.
Please can I also point out that foi request Ref No:11594/0 16/10/2009 and
foi request 14/10/2009 Customer Feedback Reference Number:11594/1110997
still await your review.
These are for
1 Any condition report on or survey of the cliff façade behind the
development behind the development more recent than the principle condition report
of April 2005 which I already have.
2 Any documents pertaining to the condition of the Marina Esplanade
incline viaduct, I am particularly interested to know how the load bearing
capabilities were calculated, the weight limit at the moment is 40 tonnes, my own
stress calculations were much more in the order of 10 tonnes.
3 Any flood risk assessment pertaining to the Pleasurama site.
And the development agreement respectively.

Best regards Michael

Subject: Re: Thanet District Council: FOI Appeal Outcome
Date: 04/03/2010 18:43:04 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:  
Sent on:  

Sent from the Internet (Details)  
Thanks Michael... and for the list. It will be Pleasurama next.

Also, I have forwarded copy of your e-mail to 1.75k and 1.25k

Please don't think that I am trying to influence your decision on whether to appeal to the IC on this one ... but if we don't hold the information you require - even if we really ought to - an appeal to the IC won't change this.

Subject: Re: development agreement
Date: 04/03/2010 21:42:25 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:  
I am very sorry that you you have not had a reply. I am looking into why and will revert to you.

>>> <> 05/03/2010 11:13 >>>
Thanks 2k, revert is an unusual choice of word in this context, does
it's use have any significance that I could be unaware of?

Best regards Michael

Subject: Re: development agreement
Date: 05/03/2010 11:27:12 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:  
What I'm saying is that I'll come back to you. The draft reply is with 1.5k our Monitoring Officer and Head of Legal Services. I have asked that it be with you by the end of next week at the latest.

Subject: Re: development agreement Date: 05/03/2010 12:22:57 GMT Standard Time From:
Reply To:
Sent on:
Sent from the Internet (Details)


Since my earlier email to you I understand you have now received the reply to the FOI so ignore my earlier reply

Chief Executive
Thanet District Council
Council Offices

Subject: Fwd: Thanet District Council: FOI Appeal Outcome
Date: 05/03/2010 13:06:01 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:  

Hi 2k actually no I haven't below (1.5k's email dated 04/03/2010 14:33:23 above)  is what I have received so far and my response, as you see nothing about the development agreement, although I did assume what I did receive to be a result of my email to you because of the timing.
Although I am assuming his response to be:
"Thank you for your communication received on 14th October 2009 where you requested the Development Agreement for the Pleasurama development.
I can confirm that Thanet District Council holds this information. This information is exempt under section(s) 43 of the Freedom of Information Act and is therefore being withheld.
The information requested is likely to predjudice the commercial interests of the persons (or public authority) and therefore the information is exempt under section 43.
Having considered the public interest, the Department’s decision is therefore to withhold the information."
Which is the draft that I sent 1.5k last month to save him the trouble of writing it out, in the hope it would speed things up.
As I have already pointed out to you the district auditor is not governed by section 43 as as I will almost certainly get the document anyway it is all rather stupid.
However the main thing I would like you to take onboard is the way that the council is handling foi requests.
Best regards Michael

In a message dated 05/03/2010 13:27:50 GMT Standard Time, writes:
It was sent to your email address at 2 33 pm yesterday.

Subject: Re: Thanet District Council: FOI Appeal Outcome
Date: 05/03/2010 14:02:16 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:  

Hi 2k the email that 1.5k sent me yesterday related to a different request different date different reference number and had nothing whatsoever to do with the development agreement.
I have now started publishing the correspondence to the internet - as it is getting rather complicated to follow - at obviously I haven’t used officers names but have given them nicknames based on their weekly salary I have nicknamed you 2k please let me know if you want this revised.
Best regards Michael

In a message dated 05/03/2010 14:25:04 GMT Standard Time, cc writes:
I'll look into your comments.

I have not given you permission to publish my correspondence with you and I would draw your attention to the disclosure notice on my emails. Where I do give you permission to publish I would prefer you to use my name not some invented label.

Chief Executive
Thanet District Council
Council Offices

Subject: Re: Thanet District Council: FOI Appeal Outcome
Date: 05/03/2010 14:53:24 GMT Standard Time
Reply To:  

Hi 2k if you want me to delete all of the correspondence between you and me that I have published on the Internet over the years, often correspondence that I have referred to you as being published by me in this way, without you making any previous complaint, you can send me the urls and I will do so.
I always feel that I am very restrained in what I publish compared say to what I could publish, or for instance forward to the like of ECR or Bertie for publication, anyway it must be obvious to you that I can paraphrase them with an explanation in every instance, as they say the choice is yours.
Recently I have been reluctant to use officers real names as some of the correspondence dates back to 2003 and some of the officers have now got jobs elsewhere but of course when one googles them some of the somewhat stupid things they have said come up.
Best regards Michael