An investigation has been launched into alleged interception of emails from a resident investigating planning concerns by Liverpool Council.
Ahead of a major development being resolved by the local authority’s planning committee earlier today, Garston resident Gary Woollam had been digging to see what he could establish. Mr Woollam, who has been vocal about his concerns regarding his local area, said he had been made aware that his emails to the council have been diverted without his knowledge.
Officials have now confirmed an internal investigation is underway into Mr Woollam’s claims.
He had been looking into plans put forward by Veolia UK to install two further 30m high towers for the management of hazardous waste at an industrial site on Blackburne Street. The location has operated as a lower-tier control of major accident hazards (COMAH) plant since 2000 and the two new towers would expand its capacity by a further 28,000 tonnes.
However, members of Liverpool Council’s planning committee felt they did not have enough information to make a decision on the plans and have deferred a final call ahead of a crucial site visit.
Mr Woollam said he had been made aware his emails to the council had been diverted without his knowledge. He says this included emails that were intended for his ward councillors – that never arrived with them.
An email has been seen by the LDRS from an office manager in the council’s planning department, to Mr Woollam’s ward Cllr Lucy Williams, which confirms that a ‘divert’ was set up for Mr Woollam’s emails with the authorisation of the director of planning. This was done, it states, following the number of emails that Mr Woollam was sending into the council regarding the planning application.
It added, “It was agreed centrally to have the divert in place but the customer did not know this divert was in place.” The council officer added that the divert has now been removed.
Mr Woollam said he felt “violated” by the actions of the council, particularly as he fears that private emails sent to councillors have been intercepted and diverted to a council planning department that he is at loggerheads with. Officers recommended the controversial Veolia plans be approved but concerns were raised by a number of councillors calling for proposals to be put on hold pending a visit to the site and further information.
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said comments submitted on the planning application had been received and taken into account in assessment of the proposal.