No reaction? Then fined the province of Zeeland up to 15,000 euros

Attorney Horsner is assisting the Schoenbolder Foundation in its fight against the polluted pit and with a plan to realize a new neighborhood near Perkfolder, including holiday homes, a restaurant and a marina.

Last April, the lawyer launched the Government Information (Public Access) Act or WOB. He requested documents from the province to gain insight into the decision-making process related to Plan Perkfolder.

‘Application not accurate’

Normally the province should have made a decision within eight weeks, but so far it has not happened. The province’s argument is that the application is ‘not accurate enough’. According to the province, it is not clear what documents the attorney wants to see.

The province thinks it may be more than 7,000 documents and wants more information on how to reduce the number.

Harshner was unable to resolve the matter with an official and the provincial attorney. The county continued to insist that the claim was not clear, Herschner thought. In the meantime, time has passed and no decision has been made on the request.

Force a decision

H yearrchner wanted to enforce a decision through the courts in November last year, but the judge rejected it because he appealed late. Hörchner later complained to two district officials.

A new appeal to the court on August 23 this year led to the ruling that the province must make a decision within six weeks. Otherwise, a fine of up to a maximum of 15,000 euros will be imposed.

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement in this way, the province is obliged to assist the person submitting the request, the objection panel hopes.

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In this case, it did not happen. The Committee regrets the attitude of officials and provincial administrators in dealing with the WOB request. But according to the panel, it cannot be shown that the two officers did not treat Harshner with respect.

Not a solution-oriented approach

It is not clear why the objection committee has not yet made a decision. The fact that it contains thousands of documents is no excuse for not making a decision. “For example, if the staff position is not adequate, external expertise may be employed.” According to the committee, there is ‘no settlement-based approach’ in the province.

The provincial administration partially accepted the committee’s recommendation to declare the complaint well-established. As Horschner points out, GS says he does not recognize himself in the terms of ‘constant customer friendliness’ and ‘unnecessarily friendly emails’, but believes that ‘more active support should have been expected’ with his request for help.

This is a sign that there is something wrong with the GS management culture in Zeeland, says Herschner. He thinks about asking the ombudsman to take a closer look at the management culture.

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