“New financial watchdog is a tax avoider …”

“The man appointed to police Britain’s financial system yesterday admitted using a notorious scheme that helped cut tax bills.

Charles Randell was given the job despite admitting in his Treasury interview that he had been made to pay back £114,000 to the taxman, plus interest.

The scheme he used, Ingenious Film Partners 2, collapsed after an investigation by HMRC.

Grilled by MPs yesterday, the 59-year-old corporate lawyer accepted making a mistake.

Campaigners said Mr Randell’s appointment as the next chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority amounted to ‘self-policing by the financial elite’ – and should be blocked.

Nikki Turner, of the SME Alliance for bank fraud victims, said: ‘If you or I were to try to dodge our taxes for thousands of pounds, sorry wouldn’t be good enough.

‘We need somebody in the post who’s open to seriously trying to resolve the problems with the financial sector.’ Robert Palmer, of Tax Justice UK, added: ‘Charles Randell appears to be someone who is willing to play the system to make himself richer.

‘It can be really tough for someone like that to crack down on abusive banks. This is self-policing by the financial elite.’

The chairman of the FCA is one of the most senior figures in the City.
The role involves overseeing the staff of the regulator, which investigates bad behaviour by thousands of financial institutions, and ensures customers of big firms are treated fairly.

Mr Randell made his name at ‘magic circle’ law firm Slaughter and May as the Government’s top legal adviser on bank rescues during the financial crisis, reportedly earning fees of £500 an hour. It is thought his firm earned as much as £33million. ….”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5414951/New-financial-watchdog-tax-avoider.html

Greendale Business Centre: FWS Carter and Sons application fails at the High Court

PRESS RELEASE:

“After 3 years challenging the planning system, Greendale Business Park owners are required to return an area back to Agricultural use.

It may have taken 3 years but finally the Planning Department at East Devon District Council (EDDC) has succeeded in winning a long running planning and legal challenge.

It was the 8th Feb 2015 when earth moving and general building works were first reported to EDDC Enforcement Officers by neighbours of Greendale Business Park. This was on a 3.5Ha site, east of the existing permitted development area at the Business Park near the village of Woodbury Salterton.

Following investigation, the Local Planning Authority (EDDC) served an Enforcement Notice to the owners FWS Carter and Sons, but they chose to ignore the notice and carried on developing the site at “their own risk”.

A planning application was submitted nine months later (06/11/2015 15/2592/MOUT) but the development was considered to lie outside the agreed development area for Greendale Business Park and it was refused by EDDC. A second attempt was made with a similar proposal split into 2 separate planning applications the following December but this was also refused (06/12/2016 16/2597/FUL and 16/2598/MFUL).

The Local Planning Authority then issued the owners with an Enforcement Notice, requesting the removal of the industrial concrete hardstanding, fences, buildings and the return of the land to agricultural use. The company then appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in March 2017 for the decision to be revoked.

on Dec 7th, 2017 the Inspector found in favour of the Local Authority and upheld their enforcement decision, but within days the Company lodged an appeal with the High Court. Last week 08/02/2018 the Judge ruled that there was no case to answer and therefore the decision by the Local Authority was upheld and costs of £3998 was set against the applicants, FWS Carter and Sons.

The Company now has 6 months to remove all industrial activity and return the land to agricultural use. This work will be monitored very closely

Another section of the Business Park (an area approximately 1Ha) south of the Greendale Business Park and just off Hogsbrook Lane, has also been developed without planning consent. The owners FWS Carter and Sons claimed in Oct 2017 that this land has been in “unlawful” industrial use for more than 10 years and they applied for a little-known planning regulation loophole known as a “Certificate of Lawfulness ” (17/2441/CPE) to enable the area to continue to be used without requiring further planning approval.

However, the Local Planning Authority followed Legal Advice and concluded that the land had not been used “unlawfully” for 10 years because there was lawful permitted development with a gas pipeline contractor occupying the site for 3 years. Because of this, the Certificate of Lawfulness was refused and it is expected that an Enforcement Notice will be served on the Company for this breach of planning shortly.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC Ward Councillor for Raleigh Ward which includes Greendale Business Park says, “It is a great shame that the Company started to develop this area prior to any planning permission being in place. The efforts and costs incurred by the company in developing the site, including the cost of architects, planning consultants, barristers, solicitors, court costs, contractors’ costs and everyone’s time has all been wasted.”

“Add to that the considerable costs to the local authorities` planning, enforcement and legal teams in endeavouring to provide a sound and fair case.”

“It’s quite clear the Planning System has moved on enormously in the last 15 years, with much more openness and clarity, mainly down to modern technology. Planning applications and official documents are now open to scrutiny at the touch of a button and can be viewed without leaving your house.”

“Previously documents were available only at District and Town Halls, for interested parties to view but now the internet and Local Authority Planning Portals provide everyone with a better understanding of the planning regulations and legal issues involved.”

“I look forward to the day when all developers will follow the normal planning procedures and not proceed in such a cavalier way. This may have been the way it was done in the past but its proving much more difficult now.”

“I would like to thank the many local people who have frequently written to the Planning Authority to comment whenever it was required, as well as the Planning and Legal Team at East Devon District Council who ensured that the Planning Regulations were correctly upheld”

So, how is EDDC’s office relocation going? Update and some odd figures

With the new barn-like EDDC HQ taking shape in Honiton, how is the project going? How much has it cost so far? What is the current projected cost?

Hard to say. Owl searched for news of the “Office Relocation Project Executive Group” and was directed to its website:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/committees-and-meetings/other-panels-and-forums/office-relocation-project-executive-group/

where readers are told to consult the project archive:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/access-to-information/historical-information/relocation-project-documentation-archive/project-document-archive/

Alas, the last document posted there was on 20 February 2013 (in response to the requirement of the Information Tribunal which EDDC lost) and Owl’s attempt to find anything more up-to-date (including current costings and financing arrangements) has so far failed.

Perhaps an EDDC councillor or officer can let Owl know where the latest information is – and who is in charge of the project these days?

Well, officers and councillors must read this blog! I have been pointed to ANOTHER website (thanks):

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/access-to-information/historical-information/relocation-project-documentation-archive/

and here is the latest update:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/access-to-information/historical-information/relocation-project-documentation-archive/

Archive 8 states on 18 October 2017:

“Progress – going well. Costs remain within budget allowances. Spend to date is £3.745,000 leaving a balance of £6,840,148m.”

and on 15 November 2017:

“Progress – going well. Costs remain within budget allowances. Spend
to date is £1.403m leaving a balance of £6.482m with a contingency of £245,000. Completion date is scheduled for 15 October 2018 with a relocation date of 21 December.”

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2373382/joint-project-exec-and-officer-wkg-group-minutes-151117.pdf

Now – Can anyone explain the discrepancy? £3,745,000 spent to date in October 2017 and £1,403,000 to date a month later?

“Audit committee calls for review of threshold for misconduct in public office offences”

Again, plenty Owl could might add here!

“The chair of a local authority’s audit and risk assurance committee has written to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to express concern at the “extremely high threshold” for consideration of Misconduct in Public Office offences.

The letter sent by Cllr Liam Preece of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough came after the local authority had referred certain allegations about some elected members to the police.

However, the police – following a review of the evidence held by the council – reached a determination that there was insufficient evidence to meet the threshold for recording a crime.

Cllr Preece said that the audit and risk assurance committee had accepted the police’s decision, “but were ultimately concerned that there is an extremely high threshold for consideration of Misconduct in Public Office offences which in turn could lead to a lack of public confidence in the process”.

He added in the letter, which can be viewed here, that the committee hoped that the relevant guidance issued to police forces in relation to the threshold criteria for such offences could be reviewed.

“The Committee feel that in cases of multiple serious breaches of the code of conduct, the police should feel more justified to bring charges against elected members to restore and maintain public confidence,” Cllr Preece told the DPP.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34242%3Aaudit-committee-calls-for-review-of-threshold-for-misconduct-in-public-office-offences&catid=59&Itemid=27