Freedom of Information & Environmental Information Requests sent to EH by CJ
This is a summary, with the text of the requests added at the end. The Court had made it clear that they did not support 'fishing trips' so I set out in detail my reasons for each request.
My requests always set out the background, dates, context and the reasons I require the information in the hope that it will produce a full response.
EH have been open and efficient until my recent requests: This is my request 4 below asking: This vital information is still awaited.
· what the Designation Review Panel were briefed and
· who, how, when and why the two decisions were made not to designate were made.
The first was sent on 2 January 2012, following an email from EH on 22 December 2011 explaining that an appeal process had been put in place.
EH responded, on 13 February 2012 sending me the documents on a USB stick. These documents allowed me to:
1. Identify the grounds given for changing their minds and agreeing to the Germany Beck development citing the false story promoted by the developers that Germany Beck might have been a man-made feature post-dating the battle. (April 2004)
2. See the emails from senior EH officers who had attended my talk at the Royal Armouries suggesting I should apply for designation of the site. (May 2011)
3. Read that the Battlefields Panel had recommended designation in spite of advice from EH that they were not planning to add Fulford to the Register. (Feb 2012)
4. It revealed the meetings and submissions from CYC and the developers opposing the development.
Following the issue of the review decision in late July 2013, I submitted a second request, by email, on 27 August to which EH responded (their ref: FOI 13/1289) on 24 September 2013
EH replied with a ‘wiring diagram’ for the chain of command, the papers for the DRC and referred me to their archives in Swindon for answers to questions 4 and 5.
The agendas allowed me to prepare my critique of the DRC decision a copy of which I was able to send to Prof xxx xxxx, via the good offices of Chief executive of York Archaeological Trust, where x is a trustee (He is also a former Commissioner of EH). In the spirit of academia I challenged a number of his statements and assumptions contained in the review decision. This in turn led to his visit to the site to talk to me on 26 October 2013.
I attribute his subsequent support and his intervention over the WSI in December 2013 to his having seen the evidence. His parting words when we had completed the visit were ‘Don’t judge me too harshly until you have seen what we were told’. From this I gathered that there were other brieifings and it is these that I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to obtain.
On 17 Sept 2012, I wrote to Christopher Brookes “Could you accept this as an FOI/EIR for all agendas, minutes and constitution for The Designation Strategy Group as I am still trying to identify how, why, by whom and when the internal decision was made not to designate the battlesite. It would help if I could identify some rational argument and basis for the decision. (I cannot find mention of this group on the web).”
EH responded the following day Their ref: FOI 13/1306
Thank you for your below email which Chris Brookes has passed to me for reply. Having considered your request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 I can confirm that English Heritage does not have any record of a group called the Designation Strategy Group, or any similar name, meeting in November 2012.
On 9 April 2014 I submitted, via my solicitor, the following FOI which notes that I have been pursuing the information for some time. The information I have been seeking which was re-sent to EH on 27 March 2014. This request has been updated to reflect the information provided by EH during the hearing on Monday.
· I had first requested the information in October 2013 following Prof xxx visit to the battlefield.
· The same information was also requested when I wrote to Dr Thurley on the 20 Sept 2013 where I expressed my frustration: “Please ensure that there is full disclosure as this unfortunate process is being protracted because I am having to identify and chase down the omissions in the information supplied.”
It might be of interest that I wrote to Dr Thurley, EH Chief Exec, on 7 Feb 2013
“During a meeting with your Designation Officer (North) I explained that I am working through the internal EH documents recently supplied and noted how disappointed I was to discover the ignorance of the facts about the Fulford case. As a result I can now read how generalities, that do not address the Fulford evidence, have advised the designation process. There really must be a better process of internal debate and criticism if you choose to conduct these ‘debates’ internally. I have notified your designation officer that I have identified substantial new grounds for challenging the designation decision. I feel I have provided more than enough grounds to overturn the decision by asking that the available evidence is addressed. But if you need more then you will have to find a process to give me the time I need to go through all of the papers, and probably provide me with more information, as none of my team can find identify grounds to overturn the panel’s June view.”
I had already notified EH of the need to
discover how and why they reached their decisions as it is not set out in any of
the papers I have sent. See also letter on page 8 to Dr Thurley sent 20 Sept
First FOI to English Heritage
24th Dec 2012
Freedom of Information request relating to EH’s Battle of Fulford designation decision (Nov 23rd 2012) and the Germany Beck planning application (Ref: 01/01315/OUT).
The two areas of interest intersect and must be dealt with together since the designation relied on information from the planning process that was known to be defective or incorrect.
Please provide the following information:
Matters relating to the designation process for the site of the battle of Fulford
1. All agendas, minutes and notes relating to meetings of the designation board, designation committee or any other body that dealt with policy or details pertaining to the designation of battlefields or the battlefield register since 2005 (The information about the battlefield panel has all been sourced online so is not needed).
2. Notes of all meetings, tel calls or conversations related to the proposed designation of the battlesite at Fulford between EH and any other person or organisation during 2011 and 2012.
3. Notes of all correspondence (letters and emails) related to the proposed designation of the battlesite at Fulford between EH and any other person or organisation during 2011 and 2012.
4. All third party submissions received by EH related to EH’s Consultation Report on the Fulford battlesite (I obviously have a copy of my own response to the consultation but need to see the other documents).
5. Copies of the rules governing the role of the designation officers and its advisory panels. I am especially keen to see if they are given any guidance about considering issues beyond the heritage itself.
6. List of all bodies and individuals who were consulted about the proposed designation and the rules governing those who must be informed. (Is the process open to everybody to comment?)
Items relating to the role of English Heritage as a statutory consultee for the Germany Beck planning Application
1. Correspondence (letters and emails) between English Heritage and City of York Council (or York City Council) from 1996 and Selby District Council (prior to 1996).
2. Notes and minutes of meetings between any EH officer and City of York Council and/or those acting on behalf of Persimmon Homes since 2001.
3. Any direction or mentions from English Heritage Commission about the battle of Fulford or battlefield designation decisions.
4. Any direction or mentions from English Heritage Executive Board about the battle of Fulford or battlefield designation decisions.
I am unclear about whether I am able to publish the content of your letters. I am seeking to make all possible information available to facilitate the work of those who want to investigate the planning, and now the designation, process related to the battle of Fulford. This can be inspected at savefulford.org (and previously a part of the battleoffulford.org.uk site). Could you clarify the position or give me permission to publish your letters (but not those from 3rd parties). You will note that I redact contact information leaving only the content.
The battlesite has its own website fulfordbattle.com
I look forward to your full response within the timescale allowed by the regulations.
2 This was second FOI sent on 27 August, post review:
1. A response to previous requests for information under paragraphs 89-91 of the PAP namely:
a) Notes of all meetings between English Heritage officers and the Council (this is our second request).
b) Details of the meeting between Nick Bridgland and Paula Ware on 11 October 2011;
c) Details of whether any site visit took place between any member of the Designation Team and agents for the developers between the submission of the application to register on [DATE] and the decision being made.
2. Identification of Individuals
a) A diagram to help me understand the structure that has engaged the different people or departments (specifically Roger Bowdler, Emily Gee Nick Bridgland and Joe Flatman) and their roles within English Heritage as it relates to this decision.
b) Copies of any documents telling them to undertake the task in respect of the Fulford designation.
3. The Review Panel: Information and questions relating to the creation of the new review panel that decided not to review the Fulford designation decision.
a) Has this body ever met before?
b) Could I see documents relating to its role, organisation and constitution.
c) I also need to see the dates, agenda and minutes of any meetings held by the designation review committee.
4. Information about other designations
a) The papers relating to the designation of the battles of
II. Stamford Bridge and
b) I also need to see any files for battles before the start of the 12th century where it was decided that designation was investigated but rejected. This information is required so that I can understand in what way the information provided for the designation of Fulford allegedly fell short.
5. Mitigation conditions
a) I need copies of any recent correspondence between EH and the Local Planning Authority or the Developers
b) I need to see the detailed mitigation conditions on which English Heritage should be a statutory consultee
FOI request 4
First, I am still unable to identify who, when and especially why EH originally determined, some time very early in 2012 (late Jan or early Feb?), not to designate the battlesite of Fulford. This led EH to advise the Battlefields Panel that they were not going to designate because of the planning situation; advice which their Panel ignored. The latter's meetings have been well documented, but there is no trace of a paper trail to identify how the initial advice not to designate was reached, and in the subsequent consultation in July 2012, the unpublished decision by EH not to designate is not reflected from the Advice Report produced by EH.
There must have been a meeting or process to produce a report that was consistent with the Panel’s view that the battlefield should be designated. (Details of meetings and contact with the other interested parties in my case, who were opposing designation, have been disclosed). Please supply details of the internal processes that led to the February advice to the Panel being reversed.
As well as pre-empting the decision of
the Battlefields Panel in early 2012, sometime in Oct 2012 the decision was made
to ignore their Panel, and not to designate the site. I have deduce the date
from the fact that EH was telling the local planners that they believed the site
might already have been added to the designation list about this time. This and
other information point to a decisive meeting where it was decided not to
designate. There is a trail of emails that you have sent me to show how the
advice report is subsequently edited to try and justify the decision shortly
before it was published but nowhere is a decision minuted or have any papers
been seen to identify where this change of mind took place.
I note that the minutes of the May meeting of the DRC record many senior officers, including their legal advisor, were present at the meeting but the minutes do not record any contributions from them. To make the minutes credible I need to be reassured that these officers were passive observers and did not contribute during the two hour debate about Fulford that is minuted. If a sound recording was made of this meeting, I would like a copy.
20 Sept 2013
Dear Dr Thurley
I have received many documents which show your officers seeking to justify the opposition to designation of the Fulford battlesite within English Heritage but there is no indication of who made the decision, when it was made or why the decision was made. The documents only reveal how officers attempted to justify the decision.
I have failed to identify any coherent decision process among the many documents supplied by English Heritage apart from those from your Battlefields Panel, which recommended designating the Fulford battlesite.
But there are references to a Designation Strategy Group among the papers. My FOI request for information says your staff have failed to identify this group. Please can you tell me who they are and provide some details of their role. They are referenced in EH correspondence at critical time in the process. I also await my outstanding FOI request to explain the meetings with, and the letters sent, to those who were opposing designation during the designation process. Please ensure that there is full disclosure as this unfortunate process is being protracted because I am having to identify and chase down the omissions in the information supplied.
But, I repeat, I cannot identify the decision point or what the decision makers considered when reaching their decision. Who decided to tell the battlefields panel before the consultation process began that they considered Fulford that EH was not planning to designate the battlesite? And who decided to overturn the battlefield panels advice. Is it the Designation Strategy Group as your internal documents suggest? Please can you investigate and provide me with some answers.
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The author of the content is Charles Jones - firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated April 2015
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