Yesterday we put six questions (below) to Steve Beynon, Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight council, after we wrote an article about the council failings going back ten years around the Ventnor Botanic Garden lift.
This morning he replied, making it clear that he has chosen to attempt to kick those questions into the Long Grass by refusing to answer them now, pushing them into being treated as an Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
There is absolutely no justification for turning them into an FoI request.
His words …
As these are quite detailed questions and an immediate response is not possible I will ask that these questions are treated as a Freedom of Information request. The relevant officer will be in contact shortly.
Danger of answers after Delegated Decision
An FoI request takes up to twenty working days to get answers, forcing the likelihood that these highly-relevant questions will not be answered until after the delegated decision to spend £220,000 of tax payers money on a new lift is made by Cllr George Brown.
The questions VB asked are the sort of question that any journalist would ask, given the glaring failings by the council laid out for all to see in the council’s own paperwork.
Choosing to not answer them now could be seen as an attempt to make the council unaccountable for a lack of action that they have admitted has been going on for a decade.
Potential loss of £7,000+/week income
Surely, as the person ultimately responsible for the running of the council, he should be concerned about the potential loss of £7,000+/week income in the summer and be keen to explain to tax payers that he has got the matter in hand.
This potentially-considerable loss – let’s not forget this has been going on for ten years – would be taking money away from other vital council services.
Out of touch with public opinion?
Many people on the Island are very concerned about the future relationship between the IWC and the Ventnor Botanic Garden.
By using this Stonewalling approach to these questions, Steve Beynon raises questions if he’s out of touch with public opinion around the future of the Ventnor Botanic Garden.
The questions VB asked
- Why does an urgent decision “needed to be made” on this lift when it’s been known about for ten years?
- At a time where the council is cutting back on expenditure from all departments, how does it justify spending £220,000 on a new lift?
- Why hasn’t the council maintained “the fabric of the Visitor Centre” at “an appropriate level” for ten years?
- Who at the council will take responsibility for this information being known about for ten years but not acted on?
- Which senior director at the council will take responsibility for the loss of apparently hundred of thousands of pounds over this period?
- What action was taken against the contractor or architect when it was originally discovered that the list had been fitted incorrectly?
Is it right?
Is there anything there that isn’t reasonable to receive a timely response to?
Even if you don’t have all of the answers, at least answer the quick to answer ones, following up later with the others.
Is it right that the Chief Executive of the council Stonewalls important relevant questions?
(PS – It will be of little surprise that “the relevant officer” has not contacted us, even nearly ten hours after Steve Beynon sent his email.)