Home > Just and fair to all? > Planning officers blind copying e-mails to an action group opposed to LDF option 2

Planning officers blind copying e-mails to an action group opposed to LDF option 2

In an e-mail on 22nd August 2008, from Derek Waller of the Campaign Against Ford Eco-Town (CAFE) to Ian Sumnall, Chief Executive of Arun District Council, Mr Waller states: “Dear Ian, Many thanks for, once again, hosting the CAFÉ meeting this morning”. The e-mail went on to thank Mr Sumnall for the blind copied e-mails from one of his officers!

You can see the e-mail here: Planning Officers blind copying e-mails

This is clear evidence that Arun District Council’s planning officers were blind copying e-mails/information to an action group opposed to LDF option 2. Where does that leave residents in Angmering and Eastergate/Barnham/Westergate (LDF option 3)?

The purpose of blind copying is to avoid others knowing. Such a practice, although not illegal, raises concerns about the ethics of the council.

Arun failed to disclose the information initially and it was only after an intervention by the Information Commissioner’s Office that Arun finally supplied the blind copied information. Following the ICO investigation the Information Commissioner found it necessary to remind Arun of its obligations and issued a strongly worded warning that “if a pattern of delay were to emerge from separate complaints his approach would be likely to be a more formal one“.

The LDF/Local Plan must be open-minded, transparent, and fair to all sections of the community.

Blind copying of information to one section of the community is likely to cause concern that the council is secretly favouring that section of the community, at the expense of other communities like Angmering, Eastergate/Westergate/Barnham, Wick and North Littlehampton.

Two blind copied e-mails have been uncovered so far. But how many more are there?

Is it responsible behaviour for a local authority Chief Executive to host action group meetings (opposed to one of his own council’s LDF options!), or for Arun’s councillors to have permitted this?

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