Thursday, 17 February 2011

Aarhus Convention ignored by Cornwall Council & R.P.

Open Letter To: Rt.Hon.Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Regional and Local Transport),

Rt.Hon Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State, Communities and Local Government,

Rt.Hon.Andrew George MP,

C.C. Richard Williams, Head of Legal Services, Cornwall Council

Dear Members of the House,

Re: The Aarhus Convention & Penzance Harbour

Being under the impression that the local authorities of Great Britain are currently required to work within the terms of the above convention when putting forth plans and proposals for new developments in their areas, I contacted Cornwall Council to find out in what manner they had embraced the Aarhus Convention and applied it to their procedure in respect of the proposed works to Penzance South Pier and the building over of the adjacent beach. The reply which I received from them indicates that the plans for Penzance have been drawn up in complete disregard for the terms of the Convention. Here is a copy of the correspondence:

"Reference Number: IAR-003899

Response provided under: Freedom of Information Act 2000

Request and Response:

May I please be informed of:

1) All details regarding the council's strategy for adopting and implementing the

legal requirements of the Aarhus Convention (Hereinafter known as 'the Convention').

Namely, copies of documents setting out this strategy and their dates of publication.

2) The names of officials who have received appropriate training in your convention

implementation strategy.

3) The dates (beginning and end) on which this training was given.

4) The minutes of the meeting at which the terms of the Convention were first

explained to the council officials.
Yours sincerely, Jeremy Schanche

Access to information – Freedom of Information policy

Public participation – the Community Engagement Strategy outlines the

improvements we making in public participation. The strategy is available on the

drafting a public consultation and community engagement policy that will be rolled out

across the Council.

In relation to questions 2 and 3, we have no records here in Highways relating

to any of our staff receiving Aarhus Convention training.

In respect of questions 1 and 4, there are also no records, documents or

minutes of meetings in respect of the Convention and its adoption in Highways.

Information provided by: Chief Executive’s Department, Environment, Planning &


In view of the above, I believe that Cornwall Council have acted unlawfully, and that if they were to pursue their current proposals regarding Penzance Harbour, they will inevitably become enmired in a costly and ultimately unproductive lawsuit. I would ask you all to consider this information when weighing up any decisions regarding the funding and propagation of this project.

Yours sincerely, Jeremy Schanche

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Tomorrow's History Today...

Another episode in the struggle with the corrupt Cornwall Council over the fate of Penzance's ancient chapel site, from which the town takes its name (Cornish: 'Pen' Peninsula; 'Zance' sanctified or saintly.)

Open Letter to Susan Chapple, Chief Executive's Dept., Cornwall Council, Truro. 15.2.2011
Dear Susan Chapple,
I received your email today regarding the ancient site of St.Anthony's chapel. It strikes me as suspicious that Cornwall Council is still playing down and denying the location of the Chapel. Following a formal complaint two years ago, the route partnership were obliged to remove false and revisionist statements about
the location of Penzance's most historically important site. This story was published in the local newspaper 'The Cornishman', and reflects very poorly on the council in its function as preserver of our Cornish heritage.
Your communique continues this trend by implying that there is doubt over the whereabouts of the ancient site. In 1974, the Corporation of Penzance was happy to publish a book by the well respected authority on local history, Mr Peter Pool - The History of the Town and Borough of Penzance - which describes the location of the site as being "at the corner of Barbican Lane and Coinagehall Street just above the quay, is of such importance as regards the site and name of Penzance that the evidence concerning it must be considered in some detail..." He then goes on to quote none other than Dr William Borlaze, who is regarded as the 'father of Cornish History'. This and other references to the Chapel will be found on page 13 - 15 of Mr Pool's book.
For Cornwall Council to deny this knowledge, whilst referring to the area as a 'redevelopment site' shows that the priorities of the council are firmly on the side of commercialism, and in total negation of their legal responsibility to protect our ancient culture.
In your email, you went on to say that ' A few years ago some granite blocks were placed at the entrance of this site to stop travellers etc. gaining access' - this statement is also false, as the blocks in question were NOT obstructing the entrance to the site, but were at a right-angle to the street. This unique site is now being driven over by the vehicles of 'travellers' to the Isles of Scilly.
After one and a quarter years, numerous letters, many hours of work, and after two expensive 'Freedom of Information' requests, the council is still being 'economical with the truth' to the point of secrecy. If the council had answered my letters over a year ago, a great deal of public money, time and care could have been saved.
Although I have it in writing that the Council has 'no plans' to build over the site in question, you now refer to it as a 'redevelopment site' - again it would appear that the council is practicing duplicity.
Since the council has finally admitted ownership and letting of the site, may I be informed of the nature and length of the contract on which it was let?
The fact that the council allowed its tenant to haul away pieces of ancient masonry from an ancient site does not in any way negate the responsibility of the council to protect that site. Therefore I would once again reiterate my request for the council to enquire and discover the whereabouts of the masonry that it permitted to be removed from its - or rather The People's - territory.
In short, the People of Penzance still require to know what their delegated representatives have done with the structure of their most ancient relic and the sooner this question is truly answered, the less public money and time can be expended on investigating it. If it will elicit a satisfactory answer, then please consider this to be a 'freedom of information request'.
I have already proposed to the council that ALL the masonry from the chapel should be reconstructed on site. This could perhaps take the form of a roofless baptisry, similar to Madron Baptistry, and could be given an ecumenical dedication and set in a small garden as a place of peace and reflection.
With best wishes,
Yours sincerely, Jeremy Schanche, SAVE THE HOLY HEADLAND, PEN SANS.

From: Chapple Susan
To: Jeremy Schanche
Sent: Tue, 15 February, 2011 11:33:29
Subject: Complaint regarding response to IAR-003878

Dear Mr Schanche,
I have referred your complaint to our Environment Planning & Economy Department and they have provide me with an explanation as to the fate of the 3 large stones in question.
The exact position of St Anthony’s Chapel is not known but it might be somewhere underneath the Council’s land in the locality of the Coinagehall Street redevelopment site. A few years ago some granite blocks were placed at the entrance of this site to stop travellers etc. gaining access and it could be that the gentleman is referring to these. Subsequently the area was let for parking and these blocks were removed from the site by the new tenant.
We trust this is satisfactory, but if you have any further questions, please let us know.
Sue Chapple
Complaints Officer
Data Protection & Freedom of Information
Communications and Strategy
Chief Executive's Department
Cornwall Council
Tel : 01872 326424
Rm 203
New County Hall
Please consider the environment. (!)

Please follow link to read The History of St.Anthony's Chapel, Penzance:

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Saving Saint Anthony's - Continued...

Howdy Folks, and welcome to the Holy Headland of Penzance, in West Cornwall. Once again, I find myself chasing the 'authorities' to try to squeeze out of them the truth of what they have done with the remains of an ancient religious site... After two 'Freedom of Information' requests were replied to with cynical evasiveness, the chase progresses along the tedious complaints procedure - the Case (as they say) CONTINUES.......

3.2.11 From: Jeremy Schanche, SAVE THE HOLY HEADLAND (St.Anthony's Chapel, Penzance, Cornwall - An ancient site under threat)
Open Letter to: Complaints Officer, Cornwall Council, Truro.

c.c: Mrs Judy Howard, Assistant Feedback Officer, Planning & Regeneration;

Dorothy Trudgeon,
Andrew George MP,
Rev.Andy Phillips, Cowethas Peran Sans,
Councillor Dick Cole, Mebyon Kernow,
Councillor Tamsin Williams, Penzance Town Council, For Information

Dear Complaints Officer, complaint No: 467,048


I am contacting you to try to elicit information about the above named site, on Barbican Lane, currently being
used as a car-park. Since we are dealing with a 'Dark Ages' site, there is some dispute between historians as
to its exact degree of antiquity - Cannon Doble argued that St.Anthony's Chapel may date back to the Celtic era
- i.e. before the Saxon invasion of Cornwall under King Athelstan. It is known that it was this very chapel
that sanctified the little headland, or 'Pen', thus making it 'Zance', or sacred. From this arose the name of
our town - Penzance. This chapel was in use until the early 19th century, being supplanted by St.Mary's Church
in 1839. There are several references reproduced in Mr Peter Pool's book, 'The History of Penzance', which
describe the subsequent vandalization and neglect of this most ancient and sacred heart of our town; these date
from the 19th century.
My personal view is that an historic site of this kind of magnitude has an inherent value and that it is these ancient sites that are one of the main attractions of Cornwall, and thus they bring not only prestige and a sense of historical continuity to our modern age, but also much needed revenue in the form of tourism. I also believe that we have a moral and indeed a legal obligation to preserve these ancient treasures intact and hand them on to future generations.
At this point some would argue that there is nothing on this particular site that remains to be preserved. I
would heartily refute this claim by pointing out that certain peices of masonry from the chapel's medieval
period have been incorporated into the adjacent St.Anthony's Gardens, including a beautiful arch, some pillars
and many dressed blocks.
This brings me to the cause of my complaint. In August 2009, three large pieces of masonry weighing several
tons were removed from the site and I have being trying to ascertain the history of this action by corresponding with Cornwall Council. It is my proposal that ALL the masonry should be returned to its original position, following a properly conducted archeological dig, and that a partial reconstruction of St.Anthony's Chapel
should be built, within a small park, dedicated to interfaith tolerance. It is my view that no other course of
action is appropriate for this site. In order to initiate the faciltation of this activity, I have entered into a long and frustrating correspondence with the Council - first with Alec Robertson, then Tom Marks, and finally, having obtained no satisfactory result from them, I have filed two 'freedom of information' requests. The first one being fruitless, I followed it with a second which, I have to say, was equally evasive, failing to even inform me whether the council has any jurisdiction over the site - let alone the history of the council's involvement.
In summary therefore, I would very much like to have my FOI request answered in full, as, I believe, is my
legal right, and the council's legal obligation. It is my opinion that the council are being unhelpful with me
over this issue as I am engaged in a dispute with the council over the fate of Battery Rocks Beach and South
Pier, Penzance; immediately adjacent to St.Anthony's Chapel site - and that my attempts to save this beach have
brought me into verbal conflict with said council. There is plenty of information available in the public
domain to prove beyond reasonable doubt that I have the support and agreement of the majority of residents of
Penzance and district over this action and I feel morally bound to try to defend the ancient, natural and cultural heritage of Pen Sans.
I would ask you and your colleagues to do what ever is necessary to get a complete answer to both my FOI
requests, not just for my benefit, or that of the current residents of Penzance, but also for the ongoing
generations of people who are to dwell here in future ages, for if we rightfully preserve that which history has bequeathed to us, we will win the praise and thanks of the future generations of Cornwall and beyond.
Yours sincerely, Jeremy Schanche - SAVE THE HOLY HEADLAND
Correspondence follows:

received 1.2.11
Freedom Of Information Mail
View Contact
To: Jeremy Schanche
Dear Mr Schanche,
Further to my colleague’s email below we have received feedback from the Council’s Property service regarding
your questions. I can confirm that the Property service and the Environment, Planning and Economy directorate do not hold any further information in response to your questions, other than that already supplied.
I am sorry we cannot provide any further information at this time.
If you wish to complain about the outcome of your request, please write to:
Chief Executive’s Department
Complaints Officer
Cornwall Council County Hall
Kind regards,
Helen Thomas
Support Advisor – FOI/DP
Public & Partner Relations
Chief Executive’s Department
Cornwall Council
Tel: 01872 323650

Central Scanning Unit, County Hall, Truro. TR1 3AY
Please let us know if you need any particular assistance from us, such as facilities to help with mobility,

vision or hearing, or information in a different format.
Please consider the environment. Do you really need to print this email?
-----Original Message-----
From: Lawrence Lisa On Behalf Of Freedom Of Information Mail
Sent: 17 December 2010 16:02
To: Jeremy Schanche
Subject: IAR-003878
Dear Mr Schanche
Thank for you email as set out below. I apologise that you are not satisfied with the response that has been

In response to question 1, the reply was answered by Tom Marks, Deputy Operations Manager, West Division

Environment. The response was issued by Helen Thomas in the Freedom of Information Team. It is not normal

procedure to sign these letters, but to have a delegated person’s name on the bottom, which is currently Gemma

I have now gone back to the Environment Service, including Historic Environment who have informed me that they

have no information about the area, other than the response already given. Tom has spoken to historic heritage

and they also know nothing of these stones. Tom has suggested that perhaps the Property Service would be better

placed to answer the current questions, and therefore I have sent on your letter to them.
I am aware that you have been in correspondence with the Leader of the Council, CC Alec Robertson and have

exchanged some letters in respect of the stones (which I now have copies of) and I will also follow up with the

Leader to find out where he obtained such information.
If you wish to make a complaint in respect of the response, I attach the link on how to do this here:

I’m sorry I cannot provide any further information at this time, but I will contact you again as any information

becomes available.
Yours sincerely,
Miss Lisa Lawrence
Support Advisor (Information Management)
Public and Partner Relations
Chief Executive's Department
Cornwall Council
Tel: 01872 323451
Fax: 01872 261049
Room 239, Treyew Road, New County Hall, Truro. TR1 3AY.
Please let us know if you need any particular assistance from us, such as facilities to help with mobility,

vision or hearing, or information in a different format.
Please consider the environment. Do you really need to print this email?
-----Original Message-----
From: Jeremy Schanche []
Sent: 14 December 2010 22:48
To: Freedom Of Information Mail
To: Gemma Stephenson,
'Freedom of Information' Dept., Cornwall Council, 14.12.2010
Dear Gemma,
Your Ref: IAR-003878,
My Ref: St.Anthony's Celtic Chapel Site:
Since the reply I recieved on 13th December 2010 was totally evasive and unsatisfactory, I am now forced to ask

the following:
1) who composed the reply from the Environment Service? Who issued the reply to me? In future I request that

all letters be signed - is this not normal procedure?
2) Has the council any juristiction or authority over the piece of ground, currently being used as a car-park,

between the old Vospers building and Barbican Lane, including the site of St.Anthony's Chapel?
3) Has the council ever taken any action whatsoever, on or concerning the above territory? If so, please

specify ALL actions taken by the council regarding this territory.
4) Is the author of the previous reply to me, representing the Council, prepared to state categorically that he

(Mr Marks?) or she, having asked all or any persons who are now, or have been in the past, concerned with this

matter, and having consulted all relevant files; that the council has definitely not removed any stones from

this site? (Bearing in mind that I have a letter from Mr Alec Robertson refering to stones being removed from

the site which has been published on the internet)
5) Re: your answer No.2) "No details exist": Are you - or any of your colleagues - claiming that the details

have been (a) destroyed? (b) supressed?
6) Also RE; Your answer No.2: Are you claiming that no such order was ever issued?
7) Re: Your answer No.3) (a) Are you claiming that the order was never recieved? (b) Or that the details of

that order have been destroyed? (c) Or is it a simple refusal to provide the information?
8) (a) Regarding the current whereabouts of the stones: Is the council denying that the three very large

stones were removed by official action?
(b) Is the council asserting that it cannot possibly discover the whereabouts - past and present- of these

three stones, weighing many tons??
(c) has the council destroyed these stones? (d) has the council sold these stones?
(e) have these vast stones been stolen by somebody?
Since you point out the considerable expense of FOI requests, and since it is the legal right of the public to

have them fullfilled, I suggest that rather than evading the matter, the council actually ANSWERS the questions

Sincerely, Jeremy Schanche
Reference Number: IAR-003878

Response provided under: Freedom of Information Act 2000

Request and Response:

I would like to know the following:

1) Who gave the order to remove three extremely large pieces of stone from the dark-ages site of St.Anthony's

Chapel, Barbican Lane, Penzance, August '09?

2) On what date was the order given?

3) To whom was the order given?

4) Where are these three extremely large pieces of masonry now?

5) What plans exist for the future of St.Anthony's Chapel site?

6) To date, are there any plans to consult the public about their wishes concerning the most ancient religious

site in Penzance?

1 No idea – not sure that the alleged stones ever existed
2 No details exist
3 No details
4 No idea - See answer 1
5 No change to existing site is planned to date
6 See 5 no plans to change anything as far as I am aware

Information provided by: Environment Service"
Please follow this link for The History of St.Anthony's Chapel, Penzance:

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