Wirral Council claims no disclosable conflicts of interest over grant of Saughall Massie fire station planning application
Below is the text of a letter I received earlier this month from a David Ball at Wirral Council following a stage 1 complaint I made about the grant of planning permission APP/17/00306 (which was for a fire station in Saughall Massie).
I will point out that there are aspects to the letter I don’t agree with, but in the interests of transparency, the public interest in the matter and the seniority of David Ball I am publishing it below. As it’s two pages, a link break is shown between the two pages.
(Wirral Council’s logo)
PO Box 290
Date: 03 October 2017
Tel: 0151 691 8395
134 Boundary Road
Our Ref: DB/AEH/BRACE
Service: Environmental Services
Dear Mr Brace
COMPLAINT STAGE 1 – CCR 3317
GRANT OF PLANNING PERMISSION APP/17/00306
As I understand it, your complaint has two aspects to it. These are as follows:
1. “Councillor Foulkes did not declare a disclosable pecuniary interest. Had it been declared, and Councillor Foulkes not taken part in the votes on the refusal motions, the vote would have been tied 6:6 and the Chair would have had to exercise her casting vote to determine the matter.”
2. “However, more importantly Wirral Council owned the land that this planning application relates to. Wirral Council listed this piece of land in its asset register as having a £nil value. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority allocated £300,000 in their budget to purchase the land from Wirral Council after planning permission was granted. Therefore, the grant of planning permission increased the value of Wirral Council’s land from £nil to £300,000. This was a disclosable pecuniary interest that all the Councillors on the Planning Committee had (but not declared) as they are all Wirral Councillors.”
My response to your complaint is as follows:
Councillor Foulkes is a director of Magenta Living which has tenanted properties within approximately 300 yards of the site.
Magenta Living did not however make any representations to the Committee from which it can be inferred that the Board of Directors did not believe that the outcome would affect the financial interests of the company. If they had thought otherwise, they would have been under a duty to the company to attempt to influence the decision of the Committee by making their views known one way or the other.
Consequently it was reasonable for Councillor Foulkes not to declare as pecuniary interest in the matter by virtue of his directorship of a company that evidently did not consider it had any such interest.
Councillor Foulkes was therefore free to express his opinion to the Committee on the merits of the application and to vote accordingly.
Furthermore neither he nor the other members of the Committee had a pecuniary interest in the land owned by the Council on the site. The beneficial interest in the land was owned by the Council and not by them personally and therefore did not qualify as a pecuniary interest.
I hope that this response satisfies your complaint.
If you remain dissatisfied then please tell the Council your reasons for this and this matter can be considered at Stage 2 of the Council’s complaint process.
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4 thoughts on “Wirral Council claims no disclosable conflicts of interest over grant of Saughall Massie fire station planning application”
Wirral Council always seems to find answers to everything they do!
As for the value of the land to start with, being £nil i find had to believe every thing today has a price on it!
I would guess that the £NIL valuation was made because it’s in the green belt, where there’s a presumption against the kind of development that would increase the value of the land above £NIL.
What a pitiful excuse made on behalf of Cllr Foulkes!
Shame on the whole board of directors too if they see their only duty as being to consider the financial interests of Magenta Living. The residents of Woodpecker Close are either elderly or disabled and often, in desperate need, having awaited many years for suitable, affordable accommodation.
If not a single soul on Magenta Livings board of directors considered that they had a duty to engage with and represent the views of the very many tenants who signed a petition or registered their opposition to this (let’s face it), not just damaging, intrusive and unnecessary, but potentially further risking the safety of the majority of West Wirral residents proposal, let your shoulders be heavy!
In a slight of hand though, I may be misdirecting my despair, frustration and anger. It seems evident that few Wirral Council or Merseyside Authority Members involved in this whole sorry saga have considered, never mind critically evaluated the evidence put before them.
I’m not disabled, elderly or vulnerable, but work full time and don’t own a car, so still can’t attend meetings where “the public” may pose questions in the remote hope of a response.
So, in the interests of transparency, participation and engagement espoused so readily by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority, Wirral Borough Council and Magenta Living company Board of Directors- I urge you, come on & respond to, rather than sit back, viewing, but ignoring the (pardon the pun MFRA) burning issues, questions and queries.
I shan’t hold my breath, but look forward to reading a response from anyone who was involved in this decision making process, who holds a genuine belief that they did the right thing, for the greatest good in this instance
Thanks for that Kim.
If you haven’t read it already, reading Will two overlooked covenants for “enjoyment of light” prevent a fire station at Saughall Massie from happening? (which is the next chapter in this saga) might cheer you up!
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