On Tuesday March 7th Shepway District Council’s elected Cabinet will convene to discuss Otterpool Park behind closed doors. We believe that SDC are acting beyond their powers (ultra vires) and have made an unlawful administrative decision, by holding the meeting behind closed doors. We ask in whose interest are SDC’s working for. An offshore company Cozumel Estates Limited based in the known secrecy jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands or the residents of Shepway?
The agenda regarding Otterpool Park states:
Report C/16/106 updates Cabinet on the significant level of activities undertaken by the Council as joint landowner/promoter for Otterpool Park since the last detailed Cabinet report of 8th June 2016. This report includes updates on the Planning Collaboration Agreement, Development Agreement, land assembly, masterplanning, financial position, previous and future community engagement events and ongoing member engagement.
SDC are using the following legislation to exclude the public:
s100A(3) of the Local Government Act 1972
Paragraph 3 Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the LGA 1972
Paragraph 3 Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the LGA 1972, states:
Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)
The meeting on 7th March is simply to discuss matters which “relate to” the “proposed development” Otterpool Park, eg finance etc
We at Shepwayvox contend the Council cannot use the legislation above and that Paragraph 9 of Part 2 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 prohibits them and SDC are acting beyond their powers (ultra vires).
As it states:
Information is not exempt information if it relates to proposed development for which the local planning authority may grant itself planning permission pursuant to regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992. [emphasis ours]
Reg 3 Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992.states:
Subject to regulation 4 (not relevant on this occasion), an application for planning permission by an interested planning authority to develop any land of that authority, or for development of any land by an interested planning authority or by an interested planning authority jointly with any other person, shall be determined by the authority concerned, unless the application is referred to the Secretary of State under section 77 of the 1990 Act for determination by him.
A Court of Appeal case  EWCA Civ 758 has made a distinction between ‘commercial’ and ‘financial’ information and says the latter is not exempt from disclosure. It is clear they will discuss finances and therefore this part of the meeting, could we believe, be open to the public.
The Council’s solicitor, Amandeep Khroud, is adamant that the Cabinet can discuss these matters behind closed doors. We understand that even a reporter from the Folkestone & Hythe Express, Matt Leclere, has contacted Amandeep Khroud and expressed the same sentiments as us.
It is clear to us that SDC are potentially abusing their powers to allow the meeting regarding Otterpool Park to go ahead behind closed doors. But where are the opposition voices, UKIP, Labour, Shepway Greens, Shepway Lib Dems, who in part or whole oppose the development. There voices remain silent, why are they silent? Have they been neutered by the Conservatives?
The only option is to contact the solicitor to the council, the Chief Executive, Cllr David Monk and members of his cabinet, setting out why you believe this meeting should be in public
Their email addresses are:
for the rest of the cabinet their names can be found here
None of the above constitutes legal advice. The information presented is provided “as is” without representation or warranty of any kind.