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London Rates Relief Based Talk

Discussion in 'Scientology Property Tax' started by Bluebell, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. Sponge Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    also, although it might not be the case, the surrender of such information could be seen as a sort of cry for help, but I think the Panorama article on scientology's rates relief made them realise, and defined in fact, that there really is a current public interest issue. What we are seeing is their excuses which are lame and I hope they aren't so stupid to think that the public will go along and assume "zoomg, possible litiation, well that's ok then, give more of my tax to scientology for evermore", especially when over 4 million of them watched in dismay at scientology's behaviour on the Panorama Documentary.

    CoL definitely need help. If you ask CoL "would you like to easily save £300,000 a year?" I'm sure they'd say yes. They've done all they care to in view of a wall of unhelpful case law and opinion, and from what they claim was a lack of interest by central government to back them with stronger, more reassuring arguments. Instead they relied on a barrister who would naturally provide them with a "get out clause" in terms of projected notions of potential costs of some ficticious legal case several courts and appeals further up.

    A barrister or very experienced solicitor, if they are doing their job properly, will of course give the case law angle from the other side's point of view in a worst case scenario. There was no legal argument in terms of what scietology actually is and what it does in its properties in England. The barrister assumed it was a charity in another country and he assumed it was a religion (although the latter doesn't even have to be argued) but, then again, the presumptions were already made by CoL and the barrister wasn't asked to take that into account. He assumed that the facts handed to him were facts. The game was rigged at the start.
    If the barrister was furnished with the fact that COSRECI is nothing but a registered office in South Australia and serves no actual function then I suspect his arguments would be a lot different in terms of potential ECHR "discrimination due to location" claims.

    I can probably guarantee you that, when the minutes of the 27th Sept 2010 finance committee meeting are published, that there was still no discussion of whether scientology's claims about itself as a "church" and of COSRECI are true.

    All they ever had with regard to the operations of the organisation that was claiming this relief was scientology's word and they took it, hook , line and sinker with no critical input. They did have critical input dating from 1999 in the Charities Commission report rejecting scientology's apppeal for registered charity status but seemed to be intent to ignore large chunks of it (or accept it but then say that it would be beaten down in ECHR rulings). If they think that the Charities Commission rulings (i.e. in terms of public charitable benefit) would be beaten down in the ECHR then why hasn't this been the case for other organisations with offshore shell "trusts" who lost their CC applications and appeals in England and Wales over the years? Why haven't we seen a stream of ECHR rulings handing non-charitable bizarre groups victories against UK local governments? CoL were out of their depth and failed to invest the time and effort to look deeper yet they happily paid for the expense of a barrister, Jonathan Crow QC, who won't come cheap. If they had looked into it, liased with other authorities a lot better, especially in Australia then, amongst other things, they would have ultimately found out a long time ago what we already knew and subsequently had confirmed with hard evidence about CORECI's shell existence in South Australia (even before scientology's own admission when investigated by a TV station).

    If they are going to look at an organisations claimed "charitability" in other countries as a way to avoid claimed potential ECHR appeals then they should also investigate the wider issue of what the entity actually does in the other country. Not to do so is negligent. But there was no attempt whatsoever to verify whether COSRECI had any actual function in South Australia, Charitable or otherwise. That CoL Finance Comittee, since they have trouble grasping walls of text, needs to watch that 7news TodayTonight Expose of COSRECI as a tl;dr primer...

  2. Anonymous Member

  3. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    all organisations are claiming that they are working for a charitable purpose, whereas, in fact, they are aiming for a rebate in tax. How can this be avoided?

    Somebody did a Google (India) search on the above and my document was top of the list so it looks as though this scam is being run on an even wider scale in another part of the world.

    Some more news - I see there were a few page hits from the London Borough of Camden yesterday. I wish them all the best in taking the clams to court. Maybe the page hits were in response to my email sent yesterday telling them that 68 Tottenham Court Road was no longer a "Church" and the lettering above the door since 2007 reads "Dianetics and Scientology Life Improvement Centre" and now it is more like a bookshop so they should be paying full business rates.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv-entertai...gy-bbc1-9pm-scotland-10-35pm-115875-22593026/

    Horsham District Council looked at it as well. Maybe, at long last, this document is gaining the momentum that was so desperately lacking.
    -----------------------
    Scientology business rates relief in the UK -- 06OCT2010 -- (PDF version)
  4. Bluebell Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I think what we DO need to do is (somehow) get CoL to quit being so damn being difficult and obstructive with regard the FOIs', Sunderland is also starting to be difficult.
  5. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    It's inevitable.

    It looks like the ICO and if necessary the Tribunal will kick some arse on our behalf.
  6. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    e.g. FS50265544

    51 Fawcett St, Sunderland - Scientology rates relief - WhatDoTheyKnow
  7. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    So, I take a break for, you know, real life, for a week or two, and all this breaks loose!

    Yesterday, when WWP was down, I caught up at the Wiki and read all the stuff that CoL has released. The legal opinions caught my eye, because in neither case did the CoL solicitor incorporate that (1) COSRECI was not a charity in Australia, and (2) An entity effectively identical to COSRECI had been denied charitable status in the UK.

    I was feeling a bit cheeky, so I sent off a couple of very humble emails to the opinion givers:

    To Jonathan Crow QC
    To the Whitehall lawyer CoL's solicitor wrote to for an opinion
    I'll let y'all know if anything results - I don't expect directly anything will, but hopefully as this moves forward the people CoL are consulting for legal advice will be more fully informed and thus tell the CoL solicitor he's on very thin ice.
  8. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Good one, cant hurt informing the relevant people!
  9. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    CoL FOI REQUESTS - PLEASE READ

    Dear all,

    the CoL has been aggressively combining all FOI requests relating to Scientology under their right within the Act to determine that they are part of a 'campaign' (which is perhaps, fair enough) and their opinion (which I think could be challenged in places) that the requests are for the 'same' or 'similar' information.

    The net effect of this is that ALL FOI requests to the CoL are being denied, on the basis of the time required exceeding the £450 limit for a request.

    I note in the recent thread above, another WWPer or being advised to submit an additional FOI request to the CoL. This troubles me, in the sense that if we're to get anything through, we need to ensure at the very least that there is no overlap between the various requests, and perhaps limit the 'throughput' of the requests. This is a shame; but we need to work the system if we are to make progress in the FOI world wrt CoL.

    With regards to the 10 or so FOI requests recently denied on appeal: Because I don't even know (with one exception) if the FOI submitters bundled to date are even following this thread, I have no way to co-ordinate properly, or get agreement to let my requests go forward. In the CoL initial offer of how a single £450 might be allocated, my two requests were given some primacy - but I could not consent to this because I have no right to assume some level of primacy.

    So, what do do? One of my two requests is somewhat voided by recent releases. The other is less critical. I am debating whether to (1) re-raise them (with alterations) after the 60 day stand-down; or (2) ask the ICO for a ruling on the bundling.

    But if in 60 days, CoL is still being flooded with overlapping and very broad Scientology FOI requests, the logjam will persist.

    In essence, we need to acknowledge that this is a long game, and pace ourselves. Before submitting any Scientology relate FOI request to the CoL, it is vital to check to see if there is overlap with existing requests, and consider the volume of recent requests. Where possible, announce you plans here and get debate and input first.

    I utterly believe that the CoL Solicitor is being obstructionist, and using this to be as unhelpful as possible. I have some lengthy experience with UK govt bureaucracy, and my biggest lesson is this:

    Fighting a bureaucracy can be done effectively, or ineffectively. The effective way is to use the bureaucracy as a weapon against the bureaucrats. They stick to the rules rigidly when it suits them - but if we work with the rules, and use them as a weapon, they are left defenceless.
  10. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    At http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/procedures_for_granting_and_revo

    I have replied, including the following:
    So this is a just a heads-up that if the CoL do respond positively (unlikely), I will be seeking to arrange an IRC or Skype meeting with the CoL for individuals who have had their FOI requests combined-and-declined, and other interested parties.
  11. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    All very sensible points.

    IWR that you forward the query to the ICO in any case.

    That gets you a place in the queue at the ICO - bear in mind that my complaint FS50265544 was submitted on 9 June 2009 and has only just been decided. The ICO has a big backlog. It would take your complaint some months to reach the head of the queue, and if CoL has satisfied you by that time you could always withdraw it.

    Given that probably not all the CoL FOI requesters read this forum, perhaps the easiest way to contact them all would be via whatdotheyknow.com.

    If CoL is serious about trying not to be obstructive then they could suggest to all relevant applicants a suitable page on whatdotheyknow.com to coordinate requests. (Personally I think CoL is determined to be as obstructive as possible, so I doubt they'll do this - and I don't see any reason why we should).

    NB on the 'acting in concert' / 'similar information' points:

    A hypothetical scenario: request A is submitted. Some time later, request B, which is for 'the same or similar' information, is submitted by a different person. The public authority cannot refuse to answer request A by reference to request B, and then also refuse to answer request B by reference to request A. Legally they should answer request A then refer request B to the answer previously given.

    (this view is based on the ICO's Guidance).

    So the earlier-dated request should be answered. Which CoL is not currently doing.

    But then we have the combining of costs.

    Some of it comes down to the definition of 'the same or similar'. CoL clearly thinks that can cover whole topics - i.e. anything on the topic of Scientology, FOIA or business rates is currently being rejected.

    I think there's a good argument to be made that this kind of large-scale blocking is not the intent of FOIA, given the Act's presumption of disclosure.

    I would argue that 'the same' information means literally the same document, and that 'similar' information means something like the same document in a different format.

    Clearly CoL has a different view on the degree of similarity which is needed - for example, one of the requests they've deemed to be for 'the same or similar' information does not mention Scientology or business rates - they've also said they think it's part of the campaign *because it doesn't* mention Scientology.

    In my opinion this very gross widening of the degree of similarity which is needed to bloack a request just harms the CoL's credibility.

    So lets send them all to the ICO and see what they say. Any requests which genuinely are for the same information will get rejected (which is fair enough), and any which aren't should get accepted. Only problem is the time this will take - but we can be doing other things (e.g. Local Government Ombudsman) in the meantime.

    - WT
  12. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    we should also bear in mind that CoL didn't have to release the legal opinion but they have anyway, which maybe shows a willingness to deal.
  13. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    There are multiple legal opinions here. I am not sure they have released the primary opinion of their internal solicitor, unless it's fully embedded in the advice to and minutes of the 27-Sep meeting. (not that there were reqs for the legal opinion dated well before that document was prepared)
  14. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I notice these fools DID NOT EVEN ASK FOR A PRICE LIST for fuck's sake. They did not ask what the main activities of a Scientology Church were and how this helped the public.

    Edit: The above was meant for the Sunderland cock-up but still applies for London.
  15. Sponge Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    and which is pointed out in the 1999 Charities Commission report, strengthened by the 2006 Charities Act and which CoL still chose to ignore (or claim some future ficticious court cases might trump it).
  16. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Re City of London and the Ombudsman:

    Before one can complain to the Ombudsman, one must first make a complaint to the local authority involved.

    Because City of London has recently made a decision in committee, they are not investigating such complaints and are instead allowing them to go directly to the ombudsman.

    So now we no longer need to go through the City of London's complaints process in order to get access to the Ombudsman.

    All you need to do is:

    - Send your complaint to complaints@cityoflondon.gov.uk

    - They will email you back, giving you permission to go directly to the Ombudsman.

    - Then you can go to the Ombudsman at advice@lgo.org.uk
  17. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I think I could word the complaint well as I have already set out what went wrong in their decision making process (see the judicial review thread). But what makes you think they do not investigate complaints on this matter?
  18. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    They just replied to my complaint.
  19. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Lesseeit!
  20. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    don't want to, would break anonymity.

    gist is as above.

    send them a complaint yourself and you'll get your own one. ;)
  21. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Can always include pointers to the FOIA replies as additional evidence that they have already made up their minds...

    But Anon above, can you clarify if your complaint was re: this whole QVS rates thing, or something distinct?
  22. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    ^
  23. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Any other dox we want from CoL?, apart from the 'Report to Finance Committee 22 May, 2007'
  24. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    A report on their "inspection" if it exists. I mean, what do these people see when they are doing their "inspections" and what are they looking for? "Oh, yes, this is a courseroom, this is one of the auditing rooms, this is the C/S's office, these people are doing hard sell reg training - defintely charitable and for the public benefit".
  25. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I think we can argue that there's no way an inspection of the physical premises can determine whether there's public benefit in (for example) Scientology volunteers offering 'touch assists' (faith healing) at the London Marathon.

    The physical premises are just not the issue.
  26. Bluebell Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Re the Old Celeb Centre - 42 Leinster Gardens / Westminster City Council


    Rates: Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc

    [URL="http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/rates_scientology_legal_advice] Rates: Scientology legal advice [/URL]

    Westminster City Council are trying to say they do not have any of the dox that have been asked for, to me I think that's BULLSHIT.

    WT has asked other authorities and and they had the dox so why don't Westminster?
  27. sooleater Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    an other anon with an other telephone number can try it.
  28. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Don't they say they made the decision 10 years ago - that's a lot further back than any of the others. Assuming the 10 years is correct, I'm not at all surprised they would have got rid of the file.

    IMPORTANT QUESTION: Was the CC a CC 10 years ago? Has it been changed from something else into a CC, or was it always the CC?

    If the cult changed the use of the building, without informing the council, but continued to claim the rebate, the council may see that as reason to go after them.
  29. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    You all know me and I say I am an ex-clam. 42 Leinster Gardens was always a Celebrity Center which in other words is for the indoctrination of the rich and famous people from the World of Art and the Media. It WAS a CC 10 years ago.
  30. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    68 TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD

    Dear Roland

    Thank you for your enquiry received 11 October 2010 regarding the above property.

    You have advised that this property is no longer a church and is currently being used as a book shop.

    I have requested that our Rating Inspector visits the property to ascertain its status and if applicable, any necessary changes will be made.

    I trust this clarifies the matter, however if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact this office.

    Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
    Business Rates Officer
    Revenues
    Finance
    London Borough of Camden
  31. Tony Yarwood Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Absolutely love it...well done Roland
  32. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    oho! :)
  33. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    RE: Church of Scientology - Mandatory Relief

    Dear Claire,

    there is something about their application for mandatory rates relief that I would like to bring to your attention. In the informal minutes as recorded in this document:

    http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/NR/r...8/0/AU_ContemporaneousNoteofMeeting300806.pdf

    ...the following was recorded:

    CMH: Have you applied at East Grinstead?
    Peter Hodkin: Not yet, there's only me. There's a lot of work. VAT took years. Inland Revenue minimum wage took 2 years. Westminster took 2 years.
    Massimo: Haven't applied in East Grinstead. Rates less than a third.



    This is in contrast to the information I received from Mid Sussex District Council as the result of a FOI request.

    Scientology rates relief for St. Hill Manor and grounds - WhatDoTheyKnow

    Dear Mr Rashleigh-Berry,

    Thank you for your email. We have consulted with our Council Tax section, who have provided the following.

    The notes on the account for Saint Hill Manor show that an application for rate relief was received from them in 1999. It was refused because they are not a registered charity in the UK.

    yours sincerely,

    FOI Team



    Roland
  34. Anonymous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Who's Claire again?
  35. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    A lady from the CoLCorp who gave me a response from an email I sent in about the rates relief.
  36. Anonxmous Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    ^^ Doin' it right Roland.

    EDIT - That wasn't meant to sound patronising.
  37. Bluebell Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Yea, just need to wait an see what the reply back is.
  38. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    I'll post any replies here but there is no guarantee of a reply and no guarantee they will look into this.
  39. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Hi Xxxxxxx,

    thanks for your response. I believe it changed status in 2007 or earlier since the functioning "church" of Scientology moved to 146 Queen Victoria Street in the CoLCorp. catchment area. I remember seeing a photo of Parorama's John Sweeney outside their shop at 68 TCR for his earlier program in 2007 and it having the now "Scientology and Dianetics Life Improvement Centre" lettering above the door. I believe they sell mostly books, some taped (or CD) lectures and deliver simple courses on the premises which are not of a religious nature. It is hard to sum up exactly what its function is but the closest I can think of is it being a bookshop since 2007. Hopefully, all the non-domestic rates from 2007 onwards can be recovered.

    Roland
    -------------------------------
    Just thought it would be good to collect a bit of back rates as well.

    So when do we get the next piece of good news? Do we have to wait for early Friday evening again? I don't mind, as it makes for a great weekend, it's just good to know.

    Edit: There were a couple of page hits on my document from them yesterday.
  40. RolandRB Member

    Re: London Rates Relief Based Talk

    Mr Rashleigh-Berry

    Thank you for your recent email, you will see that I have also sent this to Paul Nagle for information.

    Kind regards

    Claire

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