Letter to the Information Commissioner asking for release of the Traffic Management Plan produced by John Radford of JR Events for Sidmouth FolkWeek. Also the initial response from the Information Commissioner's Office.
Strangely, almost immediately following the response from the Information Commioner's Office I had a letter from DCC Highways ordering me to cut back a hedge that is causing no problems whatsoever to pedestrians, and to do this within 14 days. This order conflicts with published guidance on the DCC website - not to cut hedges during the nesting season. Many hedges in the area are overhanging the footway far more than mine is!
It is usual practice for people who complain about local government to be victimised by other departments - witness what happens to people who contest S215 notices issued by local planning officers, for example. So is this a vendetta by DCC staff, or coincidence?! A link will be added later to this material.
I seek disclosure of a document held by Devon County Council (DCC) being a draft Traffic Management Plan (TMP) produced by JR Events Services for Sidmouth FolkWeek.
The background to my request is that for over 10 years I have documented the progress of the Sidmouth Folk Festival (FolkWeek). The index to this is here: http://www.seered.co.uk/top_of_folk_festival.htm
Specific examples related to safety include - caravans on slopes - http://www.seered.co.uk/folk68.htm and especially http://www.seered.co.uk/folk68c.htm, also excessive (and often easily avoidable) high temperatures in dance marquees - http://www.seered.co.uk/folk114.htm and http://www.seered.co.uk/folk179.htm. A further letter on this topic was published recently in a folk dance magazine http://www.seered.co.uk/folk228.htm
I was a town councillor in Sidmouth some time ago and I have also documented some of the many examples of poor roads management locally by Devon County Council and having reference to the lack of competence of county councillors - for example http://www.seered.co.uk/trafficsignal.htm and here http://seered.co.uk/esplanade.htm
RELOCATION OF FOLKWEEK CAMPSITE.
FolkWeek organisers wish to move their campsite to a location outside Sidmouth that is poorly served by public roads. These are narrow in places and one is a very steep narrow hill unsuited to the type of frequency of proposed traffic. There has been (and continues to be) considerable local opposition, in addition to concern from within the folk dance community. This is documented starting here: http://seered.co.uk/folk213.htm and on subsequent pages through to http://seered.co.uk/folk219.htm
On 10 Dec 2013 , and against much public opposition, East Devon District Council (EDDC) granted a licence for the proposed new campsite. One factor (despite that they are not a statutory consultee) was that DCC stated they were content with the draft traffic plan as submitted to them. It may be seen as incompetent to give 'approval' without any real appreciation of the safety problems that could arise. Several local people made this specific point at the EDDC licensing sub-committee meeting. I wish now to examine what DCC considered 'satisfactory' even as a draft.
It seems clear that JR Events failed adequately to appreciate or address obvious issues central to the safe management of traffic and pedestrian flows on these narrow roads. It seems clear also that DCC should not have given 'approval' to what they already admit is a flawed document.
The central factors are summarised here: http://seered.co.uk/folk222.htm
REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE DOCUMENT.
The early correspondence with DCC seeking disclosure of the draft TMP is here: http://seered.co.uk/folk223.htm and later material is here: http://seered.co.uk/folk225.htm
The full reasons that DCC give for refusal to disclose are in a lengthy letter here
I now seek disclosure of the draft Traffic Management Plan document, in the public interest, despite that it is only a 'draft'. The reasons given by DCC for withholding it (and outlined on the above link) are specious - the only discussions with 'interested parties' are with the National Trust (landowners) who are well aware of the local debate and concerns. Release of the document would in no way 'affect' future discussions, save to highlight and expose to further public view what might be considered the limited competence of both DCC and (arguably) JR Events also.
Dr Stephen J Wozniak
14 May 2014
19th May 2014
Dear Dr Wozniak
Your ref: Sidmouth Folk Festival
Your information request to Devon County Council
Thank you for your correspondence of 14/05/14 in which you make a complaint about the above public authority's handling of your request for information.
Your complaint has been accepted as eligible for further consideration and will be allocated to a case officer as soon as possible.
We aim to deal with complaints in chronological order and, because of the number of complaints we are required to deal with, there may be a delay in allocating your case. Where possible and appropriate your case may be accelerated. Once your case is allocated to an officer they will contact you to explain how your complaint will be progressed.
If you wish to send any further documentation while the case is awaiting allocation, please quote the reference number at the top of this letter. This will ensure that the information is added directly to your case.
Please be aware that this is an automated process. The information will not be read by a member of our staff until your case is allocated to an officer.
If you have any specific concerns before your case is allocated to an officer, please contact our helpline on 0303 123 1113, or 01625 545745 if you would prefer not to call an 03 number, being sure to quote the reference number at the top of this letter.
Information Commissioner's Office
back to top of section