Author Topic: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?  (Read 2690 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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Also Blogged here: http://www.geoffreid.com/?p=711





Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council , Councillor Garry Perkins, recently told AGM attendees of the Swindon Dial A Ride Charity that the annual grant given to the charity by the council would soon be stopping because, as he put it:

"Our legal department [Swindon Borough Council] has said that the transfer of funds currently is illegal under EU law"

Opinions vary as to whether Cllr Perkins has been sold a pup which is currently barking up the wrong tree, but it sounds like a couple of really shitty political 'tricks' have been enacted upon Dial A Ride, and with any luck, (and some help), I'd like to be able be able to drag the full, dirty little tale out into the sunlight and peg it out for everyone to read. helpers can share what they know, (in complete confidence), via leaks@talkswindon.org

I don't intend to produce a full post on this just yet, but rest assured that a nasty smell is already pouring off this story and this Freedom of information request should give some broad hints as to the direction of travel but, essentially,  it looks increasingly looks like Swindon Borough Council wants to have the Dial a Ride service supplied by a company it owns , and not the independantly run Swindon Dial A Ride Charity

For now though, I'll just publish the FOI request made via www.whatdotheyknow.com while I carry on digging elsewhere.....



Quote from: Geoff Reid
Dear Swindon Borough Council,

The Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council, (Councillor Garry
Perkins), attended the annual general of the Swindon Dial A Ride
charity on the 24th June 2010 to discuss the Councils intention to
remove the annual grant given to that charity.

At the meeting, the Deputy Leader of the Council said:

"Our legal department has said that the transfer of funds [To
Swindon Dial A Ride] currently is illegal under EU law"

My freedom of information request is as follows:

1. How many sources of legal advice regarding the grant given to
the Swindon Dial A Ride Service have been used to determine or
otherwise verify that the grant described as 'illegal' by
Councillor Perkins is actually illegal under European law?

1.1 Please give the name and address of each source of legal advice
used by Swindon Borough Council to determine the
legality/illegality of the grant given to Swindon Dial a ride.

2. What advice was given given by the Swindon Borough Council
Director of Law and Democratic Services,(or other members of the
Swindon Borough Council legal department), to elected members of
the council cabinet, or other elected members of the council,
regarding the legality of the grant given to the Swindon Dial A
Ride Service?

2.1 Which elected members of Swindon Council requested or received
advice regarding the legality of the grant given to the Swindon
Dial A Ride Service such advice from the Director of Law and
Democratic Services and/or other directors & Officers of the
Swindon Borough Council?

2.2 When was such advice requested or given?

3. Are the Director of Law and Democratic Services, other Council
Directors and Officers qualified to advise elected members on
matters of European law which pertain to the legality of the grant
given to the Swindon Dial A Ride Service?

4. If external legal advice regarding the legality of the grant
given to the Swindon Dial A Ride Service was sought by elected
members, officers of Directors of Swindon Borough Council, then:

4.1 Did the Director of Law and Democratic Services, other Council
Directors or Officers, or anyone acting on their instructions,
advise any elected members of the council that such external legal
advice should be sought?

4.2 Which elected members received such advice, from whom was it
received and when was it given?

4.3 What was the advice?

4.4 Was the advice given in writing or orally?

4.5 Did the Director of Law and Democratic Services, other Council
Directors or Officers, or anyone acting on their instructions,
cause or instruct external legal advice to be sought regarding the
legality under European law of the grant given to the Swindon Dial
A Ride Service?

5 Did any elected members of Swindon Borough Council seek, cause or
instruct that external legal advice regarding the legality under
European law of the grant given to the Swindon Dial A Ride Service
be sought? if so:

5.1 Which elected member of Swindon Borough Council sought, caused
or instructed that such external external legal advice be sought?

5.2 What is the name and address of the Company(s) or
organisation(s) from which legal advice was sought?

5.3 What advice was given by each?

5.4 What was the cost of obtaining external the external legal
advice?

6. Please supply copies of any correspondence between the Cabinet
Member for Sustainability, Strategic Planning, Property and
Transport, (Councillor Peter Greenhalgh) and the Director of Law
and Democratic Services which pertain to the grant given to the
Swindon Dial A Ride Service.

6.1 Please supply copies of any correspondence between the Cabinet
Member for Sustainability, Strategic Planning, Property and
Transport, (Councillor Peter Greenhalgh) and other directors of
officers of Swindon Borough Council which pertain to the grant
given to the Swindon Dial A Ride Service.

Yours faithfully,

Geoff Reid

Offline Mart

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 02:51:47 pm »
Regardless of whether or not the alleged illegality is 'all within the rules' I would 'umbly suggest that a Council with the cojones that this one aspires to would say something along the lines of' Dear Johnny Foreigner, we have identified a need somewhat more pressing that legislating the straightness of fruit and vegetables, or, to take a parochial view, bankrolling the decommissioning of Rumanian power stations. We therefore respectfully suggest that you go feck yourself'.

Or, is it the case that the given the general wonkiness of the moral compass that someone has thought ' Thank gawd for that, we cannot give the sponging transport poor bastards a bung after all, let's invest in lamp posts in Highworth instead'.

As if.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 10:17:02 pm »

I don't know what it is about SDAR, (Swindon Dial A Ride), that gets up the noses of the Swindon Tory Councillors, but the closer and harder you look at this the more you realise that SDAR seems to have been under siege for several years.

Currently wading through 10 years worth of documents and articles and am struck by how often the same politically weasely words and phrases crop up again and again.


Offline Muggins

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2010, 07:37:00 am »
Could be it's the last of the larger charities that they can get at, having already disposed of things like Swindon Age Concern and the Well Woman's Centre.  In fact anything large enough to be a competitor, against SBC long arm things, in putting in commissioning bids?

I still can't believe  that a 'vibrant' town with aspirations to city status, does not have it's own Age Concern or Well Woman's Centre. 

Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2010, 08:41:26 am »
 
Acknowledgement received from SBC Customer Services

Quote
Customer Services
Swindon Borough Council

23 August 2010

Thank you for your email which has been forwarded to the FoI office for response.

Kind regards

Customer Services
Swindon Borough Council
Wat Tyler House
Swindon SN1 2JG
Phone: 01793 445500

E-mail: [Swindon Borough Council request email]
Website: www.swindon.gov.uk

Offline DaveWood

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2010, 09:54:55 am »
Could be it's the last of the larger charities that they can get at, having already disposed of things like Swindon Age Concern and the Well Woman's Centre.  In fact anything large enough to be a competitor, against SBC long arm things, in putting in commissioning bids?

There are still one or two large charities not 'got at' yet.

In fairness it was nothing to do with SBC that Age Concern shut down, they didn't lose funding.  IIRC is was about their own pensions black hole.

But the funding AC used to get (mostly from the PCT rather than SBC) hasn't evaporated I don't think, it's gone to other bodies to provide those services.

Offline Muggins

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2010, 10:44:47 am »
"But the funding AC used to get (mostly from the PCT rather than SBC) hasn't evaporated I don't think, it's gone to other bodies to provide those services"

The point I was trying to make I think.   Whether or not SBC were in at the final todo with Age Concern I must admit I'm not sure, but they certainly had been whittling away at it for some years.

Did it have a pensions problem because SBC wouldn't fund it because it had 'reserves' for such things?  i.e. you've got plenty in the bank so we're not funding you  and the 'plenty in the bank' was their pension fund? 
Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen


Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2010, 11:02:26 am »

 
Nice to find some positive stories amongst the many 'Council Cuts Funding To SDAR' stories.  I've just read this one from 2006 about LibDem Stan Pajak running the London marathon to raise funds for SDAR: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/local/733463.Marathon_challenge_for_Stan/


Quote from: Tamsin Davies
"WHEN Swindon councillor Stan Pajak pulls on his trainers for the London Marathon he will also be bringing in the pounds for Dial A Ride.

The 49-year-old Liberal Democrat has decided to raise money for the community bus service, which has had its funding from Swindon Council reduced.

The Tory-run council originally came up with proposals to cut Dial A Ride's funding by £100,000."

Then, a bit further down:


Quote from: Tamsin Davies
"Following protests by people who depend on the service to get out and about, the authority backed down and came up with a revised figure of £20,000.

Some politicians were still unhappy that the cuts, even though reduced, were still going ahead.

The decision came just as councillors agreed to give themselves a hike in the allowances they are paid.

Uncomfortable with this situation, three Labour councillors Barrie Thompson, Steve Allsopp and Fay Howard decided to give their rises to the charity."


Strikes me that the Directors of Swindon Borough Council could make a similar gesture....

Offline poemogram

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2010, 03:08:34 pm »
There are hundreds of Dial a ride type schemes nationwide

I don't hear that their Councils have ruled their funding "illegal"

Worth investigating DAR Trustees and SBC Grants Dept

Offline Bogomil

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2010, 06:49:27 pm »
Uncomfortable with this situation, three Labour councillors Barrie Thompson, Steve Allsopp and Fay Howard decided to give their rises to the charity."

Sorry to disillusion you a bit Geoff but the Parks 3 were embarrassed into donating their increases to a charity after a big Labour group row which led to one of its numbers resigning and a hasty backtracking by the Labour leader and group.

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/local/661105.Councillor_quits_over_allowances/

http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/local/661569.Income_rise_gets_nearer/

Stan and the Lib Dems supported an amendment motion for a freeze on councillors allowances, Labour and the Tories opposed it. To save face Labour did a u-turn and proposed another similar amendment which was also lost and then opposed the final motion by the Tories to increase the allowances.

The row in the chamber led to Labour councillors having to say they’d give their increases to charity.
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/local/679475.Councillors_vote_in_favour_of_raising_their_allowances/

Offline Mart

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2010, 07:31:13 pm »
LibDem Stan Pajak running the London marathon to raise funds for SDAR

It has been reported he will finish one week Thursday.

It's lucky SBC doesn't hsve a pensions blackhole, someone might withdraw their funding. I think it is high time the nasty pedantic little shits that use law and rules to justify morally bereft decisions remembered the purpose of their current functions.

Seems to me that more time is spent tippy toeing round to find reasons they should not do things than getting their arses in gear and cracking on with what they were brought into existence for.

We pay the money, we indicate what it should be spent on, their sole function is to do that as efficiently as possible instead of fecking asround with WiFi and piss poor water features. Easiest job in the world. I could stomach being told that I can't have a Wee Woman clinic in this town if some self abuser hadn't spunked a shedload of cash on some shite nobody had asked for.

Tossers.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Mart

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2010, 07:32:17 pm »
Wee woman?

Don't type angry, that's my advice.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2010, 10:21:43 pm »

Perfectly put Mart.

Re: Bogomils post above: I should point out that I don't feel any disillusion because Boggo has wrongly attributed a quote to me. The 'uncomfortable with the situation' quote belongs to Adver reporter Tamsin Davies.

Opinions vary on the reasons behind Cllr Harrisons resignation from the labour group in 2005, tbh it's of no real interest to me other than noting that where Bogomils post backs up Andy's version of events perfectly, surviving members of the Labour group tell a very different tale. Politicians eh? :)

I think it was an unfortunate, (but politically useful for Cllr Bawden), distraction from the more serious business of the Conservatives determination to cut funding to Dial A Ride - and everything was financially hunky-dory in Tory world in 2005...


Offline Drone

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2010, 07:19:02 am »
How does Dial-a-Ride compare with the service running just across the border in Wiltshire, the connect2 scheme? I know it's there to help connect the local rural villages, but it also helps people move between hospital and care homes and is set up for wheel chair users?

http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/connect2wilts-wootton-bassett-taxi-service.pdf
derp derp herp herp derp

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: FOI: Is £300,000 Council Grant To Dial A Ride Charity Illegal?
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2010, 04:50:00 pm »
 
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/legal_position_on_grant_given_to#incoming-109856

Quote
Geoff Reid

22 September 2010

Dear Customer Services,

A response to my request is now overdue.

By law, Swindon Borough Council should have responded promptly by
the 20 September 2010

Yours sincerely,

Geoff Reid

 

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