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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