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BPC Vexatious Policy Update

Posted on 23rd July, 2017

Bleadon Parish Council's restricted access to public information approach has been reflected in their current Vexatious Policy (adopted June 2017). 

  • BPC has removed the section in the policy indicating 'Rights of Public Access'  as can be seen in comparison to the previous Vexatious Policy
  • Once BPC have decided that a person's correspondence is vexatious "There is no route of appeal against the decision that a complaint or correspondence is vexatious". 
  • All BPC sub-committee meetings held to discuss correspondence are held in secret/closed to the public with no announcement, agenda or minutes
  • BPC will not discuss the issues or concerns leading up to their decision, nor will they correct inaccurate public announcements or supply supportive information to these comments.
  • "If they [sub-committee] decide that it [correspondence] raises no genuinely new and substantive issues, no response is required",  in BOB's experience that means not even an acknowledgement of correspondence.
  • In BOB's experience after BPC has decided to invoke their Vexatious Policy they will not tell you which questions they are 'unable' to answer as opposed to unwilling; nor will they confirm the reponse that they believe has definitively answered the question. E.g. BPCs duties, roles, responsibilities, Settlement Boundary, Parish Plan, correcting of inaccurate/misleading public information, etc. 

 What happened to the national/Good Councillor Guide/Nolan Principles adopted by BPC in their Code of Conduct with its 'Ethical Framework' and 'Seven Principles of Public Life'? For example:

  • "ACCOUNTABILITY Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office."
  • "OPENNESS Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands."
  • "LEADERSHIP Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example."

BPC have consistently refused to answer key questions in relation to the large scale developments in and around Bleadon and/or to state their view of the Future of Bleadon. They have recently responded to our request to understand their duties, roles and responsibilities, especially in relation to Public Rights of Way (PROW), stating "Bleadon Parish Council is currently taking advice with regard to the requests and issues raised in your emails and will, when such advice has been received, respond, or not, to the requests and issues raised". 

 

Considering BPC is approving applications that seem contrary to the adopted Parish Plan that represents the views of 60% of residents; that BPC are approving the building on green fields which also directly affect the public rights of way on the current three fields under proposed development; and that BPC have approved a caravan parks with units equal to 60% of Bleadon's residential dwellings BOB feels that it is important that BPC publicly inform residents of their 'plan/approach' to the future of Bleadon. This is especially important seeing as BPC declared in April 2017 that they have 'lost/can't find' the paperwork associated with currently adopted 20 year Parish Plan!

 

The fact that BPC appears to need to take advice to let residents know what their current duties are, and have a random approach to their decison making, is concerning. The fact that they may or may not let 'us/public' know what these responsibilities are when they find out is doubly concerning, especially during this period of rapid development in the parish, and as the precept, currently £39K, is funding their decisions.

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