17/05709/FUL – 11 Briton Hill Road South Croydon CR2 0JG

Yn disgwyl am adolygiad mewnol gan o'u triniaeth o'r cais hwn.

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

Please provide copies of all information regarding consultation on the above planning application and of all comments provided by consultees [statutory or otherwise].

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Freedom of Information,

 

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Freedom of Information Request

 

Thank you for your recent request.

 

Your request is being considered and you will receive a response within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days, subject to the application of
any exemptions. Where consideration is being given to exemptions the 20
working day timescale may be extended to a period considered reasonable
depending on the nature and circumstances of your request. In such cases
you will be notified and, where possible, a revised time-scale will be
indicated. In all cases we shall attempt to deal with your request at the
earliest opportunity.

 

There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of
the information requested where the request exceeds the statutory limit or
where disbursements exceed £450. In such cases you will be informed in
writing and your request will be suspended until we receive payment from
you or your request is modified and/or reduced.

 

Your request may require either full or partial transfer to another public
authority. You will be informed if your request is transferred.

 

If we are unable to provide you with the information requested we will
notify you of this together with the reason(s) why and details of how you
may appeal (if appropriate).

 

Please note that the directorate team may contact you for further
information where we believe that the request is not significantly clear
for us to respond fully.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Joanne Welch-Hall

FOI Co-ordinator

Croydon Council

 

Information in relation to the London Borough of Croydon is available
at [1]http://www.croydonobservatory.org/. Also responses to previous
Freedom of Information requests can also be found on the following link

[2]https://croydondata.wordpress.com/ Council services, online, 24/7
www.croydon.gov.uk/myaccount Download our new free My Croydon app for a
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Dear Freedom of Information,

I have now realised that the documents sent to me in response to a very similar request [regarding a different planning application] did NOT include the letters TO those with whom Development Management [presumably] chose to consult.
+++ Please ensure that Council's response to THIS request includes copies of any such correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Freedom of Information,

By law, the authority should normally have responded to this request promptly and by 9 February at the latest.

On the face of it, this is a VERY simple request.

Please provide the relevant information as soon as possible. and make clear the reason for any withheld or redacted.

Stephen Whiteside

Information,

Dear Mr Whiteside,

We apologise for the time this is taking to process.

Your request is still receiving attention and we are urgently chasing the answering department for a response.

Once we have this we will immediately send out to you.

Apologies for any inconvenience.

Kind regards.

Jo

Jo Welch-Hall
Information Support Officer

Resources Department
Customer Transformation and Communications Services
7th Floor, Zone B
Bernard Weatherill House
8 Mint Walk
Croydon CR0 1EA

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Croydon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request '17/05709/FUL – 11 Briton Hill Road South Croydon CR2 0JG'.

I have received NOTHING of relevance from the Council.

PLEASE PROVIDE ALL THE RELEVANT INFORMATION, without further undue delay.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Stockton, Jessica,

1 Atodiad

Dear Sir

 

I acknowledge receipt of your request for an internal review dated 21
March in respect of the below request. Your request for an internal review
has been passed to me to undertake in accordance with the relevant
statutory provisions.

 

Please be aware that I consider that the request ought properly to be
dealt with under EIR rather than under FOI and will be progressing the
internal review on that basis.

 

In accordance with the ICO guidance, you should receive a response to your
internal review request no later than 40 working days following receipt of
your request for a review, in other words by no later than 17 May 2018.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Jessica Stockton

Corporate Solicitor

Legal Services
Resources Department
7th Flr , Zone C

Bernard Weatherill House

8 Mint Walk

CR0 1EA

 

[1]cid:995D36CC-63D9-452C-921A-47E295D9BC0F

 

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Freedom of Information,

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Freedom of Information Request

Please see attached the council's response to your Freedom of Information
request.

Yours sincerely

 

Ahtisham Riaz

FOI Coordinator

Croydon Council

 

Council services, online, 24/7 www.croydon.gov.uk/myaccount Download our
new free My Croydon app for a faster, smarter and better way to report
local issues www.croydon.gov.uk/app From 1 October 2015, it is a legal
requirement for all privately rented properties in Croydon to be licensed.
Landlords without a licence could face fines of up to £20,000. For more
information and to apply for a licence visit
www.croydon.gov.uk/betterplacetorent Please use this web site address to
view the council's e-mail disclaimer -
http://www.croydon.gov.uk/email-disclaimer

Stockton, Jessica,

1 Atodiad

Dear Sir,

 

I refer to my acknowledgement of your request for an internal review in
relation to the delay in responding to your initial request made under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

As set out in my acknowledgement of 3 April, I consider that your request
ought more properly to be dealt with under the provisions of the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (“EIR”).

 

The Council responded to your request on 24 April 2018. I apologise on
behalf of the Council for any inconvenience caused due to the failure to
provide you with a response to your initial request within the statutory
time frame set out within regulation 5(2) of the EIR.

 

If, having considered the substantive response now received from the
Council’s information team, you remain dissatisfied with the information
provided you are entitled to request an internal review under the
provisions of the EIR. This should be submitted to the information team
within 40 working days of this response.  You can do this by outlining the
details of your complaint by:

 

Email:    [1][Croydon Borough Council request email]

 

Writing:                Information Team

London Borough of Croydon

Bernard Weatherill House

Floor 7 - Zone B

                                8 Mint Walk

Croydon, CR0 1EA

 

 

Any requests received after the 40 working day time limit will be
considered only at the discretion of the council.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire, SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

Jessica Stockton

Corporate Solicitor

Legal Services
Resources Department
7th Flr , Zone C

Bernard Weatherill House

8 Mint Walk

CR0 1EA

 

[2]cid:995D36CC-63D9-452C-921A-47E295D9BC0F

 

 

From: Stockton, Jessica
Sent: 03 April 2018 10:35
To: '[FOI #456779 email]'
<[FOI #456779 email]>
Subject: RE: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - 8910

 

Dear Sir

 

I acknowledge receipt of your request for an internal review dated 21
March in respect of the below request. Your request for an internal review
has been passed to me to undertake in accordance with the relevant
statutory provisions.

 

Please be aware that I consider that the request ought properly to be
dealt with under EIR rather than under FOI and will be progressing the
internal review on that basis.

 

In accordance with the ICO guidance, you should receive a response to your
internal review request no later than 40 working days following receipt of
your request for a review, in other words by no later than 17 May 2018.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Jessica Stockton

Corporate Solicitor

Legal Services
Resources Department
7th Flr , Zone C

Bernard Weatherill House

8 Mint Walk

CR0 1EA

 

[3]cid:995D36CC-63D9-452C-921A-47E295D9BC0F

 

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Croydon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request '17/05709/FUL – 11 Briton Hill Road South Croydon CR2 0JG'. [Your Ref: F/CRT/10008910]

REVIEW OF INFORMATION PROVIDED

The information provided was ‘embedded’ within the Council’s Response, as a single 97-page document, “8910_Attachement.pdf”, which was of course, not particularly easy to ‘extract’, or to read.

Notwithstanding my complaints about the extensive redaction throughout the document, which are covered later under ‘Reasons Given for Redaction of Information’, the comments below refer to page numbers within that ‘string’ document and to specific matters that I believe warrant the reviewer’s attention.

Page 33 - I believe that this heavily redacted email, dated 19 December 2017 [22:43], was actually sent by me and that it reads as follows:
"Dear Mr Naylor
The 'Planning Statement' showing on the Documents tab of the above aplication is actually, a second version of the Application Form.
http://publicaccess2.croydon.gov.uk/onli...
If there IS a Planning Statement, can it be uploaded to the website as soon as possible please.
Yours sincerely
S P Whiteside"

There is no GOOD reason why the above information has been redacted, and I suspect the same applies to the vast majority [if not all] of the rest of redacted material, which forms a significant part of that disclosed to date.

Page 97 – An email from “TreeOBS” to Mr Naylor, saying “Please see attached observations regarding 11 Briton Hill Road South Croydon CR2 0JG...”. But those observations [of the Council’s ‘Tree Team’] have NOT been disclosed.
+++ Please provide copies of any observations made by the ‘Tree Team’ [or equivalent], including the name(s) of the ‘specialist(s)’ making the comments.

ON [REASONS GIVEN FOR] REDACTION

The Council has AGAIN failed to give specific reasons for the various instances of information redaction, which in some cases is of virtually whole documents, rendering them ‘useless’ to the public. However, four broad reasons appear to have been given:
a. addresses/locations - outside scope of Request
b. personal details not in the public domain
c. seniority of staff
d. confidential ‘objections’

a. Addresses/locations - outside scope of Request

The Council’s Response tells me:
“... there were some emails which mentioned other addresses/locations outside the scope of this request, I have redacted this information....”

FOR REVIEW:
+++ There is no ‘exception’ claimed ... and under the EIR, there is a presumption in favour of disclosure!
+++ Unless there is a sound, justifiable basis for these redactions, this information should be disclosed.

b. Personal details not in the public domain
The Council’s Response tells me:
“... I have ... removed names, emails, contact details and signatures of individuals whose details are not in the public domain, as this may lead to the identification of these individuals and would be disclosing personal data to you.
I am therefore withholding personal data as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998 which renders such data exempt from disclosure by virtue of Regulation 12(3) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (“EIR”) read with the provisions of Regulation 13....”

FOR REVIEW:
+++ This appears to be with regard to ‘third party’ personal data. Even IF this ‘personal data’ is not already in the public domain, I do not believe that this, in itself, justifies its redaction with regard to disclosure under the EIR.
+++ As I understand it, Regulation 12(3) requires you not to disclose such personal data, EXCEPT in accordance with Regulation 13. Unless the Council clearly demonstrate that exceptions set out in Regulation 13 ARE engaged and (where necessary) that the balance of public interest IS in favour of maintaining the exception(s), this information should be disclosed.
+++ Please note that the ICO advises that the disclosure of the identity of ‘professionals’ involved in a building project, should NOT be regarded as breaching data protection principles.

c. “Junior staff”
The Council’s Response tells me:
“... I have ... removed the names and details of junior staff not involved in decision making. Given the expectation of privacy which such more junior staff have in relation to their data and having regard to the first data protection principle, it is the custom and practice for the Council not to release the junior staff details. I have retained the names of staff down to ‘Head of Service’ level, which the Councils considers meets the Transparency Code issued by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Furthermore the council considers that this position is consistent with guidance issued by the Information Commissioner, including a Decision Notice issued in respect of a similar request FS50276863. In regard to these redactions of junior staff, the Council is similarly relying on the provisons of Regulation 12(3) and 13 of the EIR ...”

- Environmental Information Regulations 2004 [EIR]
As I understand it, Regulation 12(3) and 13 CAN have the effect of prohibiting the Council from disclosing third party personal data, but ONLY if this would breach the Data Protection Act.
Regulation 12(2) establishes a presumption in favour of disclosure. If the Council has established that an exception is engaged, it is THEN necessary to weigh the competing public interests, per regulation 12(1)(b). That is, the public interest in disclosing the information as weighed against the public interest in maintaining the exception.

I believe that the Council has neither shown WHY an exception is engaged in THIS case, nor carried out the Public Interest [PI] test required by the legislation.

It is also pertinent to note that DN relied upon, was issued in respect of a request made and handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 [FOIA]. The Response of 20 April makes clear however, that THIS request has rightly been considered under the provisions of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 [EIR] and the ‘presumption in favour of disclosure’ should therefore apply.

- Decision Notice - ICO Case Reference FS50276863
Paragraph 5 of the Decision Notice [DN] on which the Council relies, confirms that initially the FSA claimed that its policy was “… not … to disclose details of staff below Head of Department level.” Paragraph 13 however, explains that “During the course of the Commissioner’s investigation …The FSA agreed to disclose the names of its employees who worked at the level of manager …. The FSA accepted the Commissioner’s preliminary view that such senior individuals within the organisation had a high level of accountability and responsibility which warranted the disclosure of their names”.

The ICO therefore does NOT adopt the simplified approach suggested by Croydon. Instead, the DN illustrates that for a request - which is not a routine matter for which a ‘formula’ is the only practical approach - ALL 3 fairness tests - or factors* - that the ICO has described need to be applied (see also the supplementary factors at paragraph 48). Their application must have specific regard to the situation.

The three factors ICO considers in judging fairness in disclosure:
1. the individual’s reasonable expectations of what would happen to their information;
2. the consequences of disclosure (if it would cause any unnecessary or unjustified damage or distress to the individual concerned); and
3. the balance between the rights and freedoms of the data subject and the legitimate interests of the public.
The supplementary factors that should be considered:
4. the seniority of the role
5. whether the role is public facing
6. whether the position involves a significant level of personal judgement and individual responsibility.
‘Seniority’ is therefore only ONE factor and the Council has NOT demonstrated the weighing of ALL the ‘factors’ set out by the ICO in guidance.

- Local Government Transparency Code 2015 [DCLG]
Although the Code appears to deal essentially with pre-defined datasets and a routine publishing scheme, paragraph 6 helpfully explains “This Code ensures local people can now see ... how decisions are taken and who is taking them …”.
Paragraph 15 confirms that "….The Data Protection Act 1998 does not restrict or inhibit information being published about councillors or senior local authority officers because of the legitimate public interest in the scrutiny of such senior individuals and decision makers…".

As set out above, the DN relied upon explicitly demonstrates that the Code level of seniority was NOT accepted by the ICO as a sufficient basis for determining disclosure. That is because the decision-making powers/public facing nature etc of officers’ roles and public interest must all be weighed up.

Paragraph 22 of the Code also usefully clarifies that “… Where information would otherwise fall within one of the exemptions from disclosure, for instance, under … the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 … Local authorities should start from the PRESUMPTION OF OPENNESS AND DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION [my emphasis], and not rely on exemptions to withhold information unless absolutely necessary.”

- Officers of the Council
Although I understand why those senior employees in scope for the Code are most likely to ‘tick the box’ against the three factors (esp. 1 and 3) much (if not all) of the time, that does NOT automatically 'eliminate' everyone else. It must depend on their role and the specific circumstances... and how the relevant ‘factors’ apply to those.
I believe that there may well be circumstances [like here] where it IS entirely appropriate to release the details of more junior officers, particularly [but not only] when those details are already in the public domain. As the ICO makes clear, “… there is a public interest in fully understanding the reasons for public authorities’ decisions, to remove any suspicion of manipulating the facts, or ‘spin’. For example, this may well be a public interest argument for disclosing advice given to decision makers. …”

There is a legitimate interest in public disclosure of the details of officers (usually ‘professionals’) who provide ‘specialist’ advice on particular aspects of a planning application, since this helps inform a case officer’s recommendation and thereby influence the ultimate decision. Such disclosures will therefore have the wider benefit of increasing public confidence in the reliability of the Council’s consultation and decision-making processes.

FOR REVIEW
+++ I believe this Council’s approach amounts to a form of “blanket redaction” and I do not agree that this position “…is consistent with guidance issued by the Information Commissioner …” and/or the “ Decision Notice issued in respect of … FS50276863]…”. Indeed, I believe that both ICO guidance AND elements of the Notice strongly suggest that the Council should reconsider its position with regard to redaction of ‘personal data’ in this case and more generally.
+++ THIS request is being considered under the EIR and the ‘presumption in favour of disclosure’ should be applied. I believe the onus is [still] on the Council to clearly demonstrate WHY, in THIS case, it would be unfair to disclose the redacted information. If, for any piece of that information, they cannot so demonstrate, then the information should be disclosed.

d. “Objections”- Confidentiality
The Council’s Response tells me:
“... I have ... redacted any views and opinions sent to the Council i.e. objections, these contain information which can lead to the identification of individuals and there personal circumstances and has also been provided to the council in confidence.
The council is therefore of the view that it could be subject to an actionable breach of confidence if it were to disclose information relating to third parties without their authorisation. The Council is relying on the exception under Regulation 12(5)(f) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
... In this case we have considered that the public interest favours non-disclosure due to the detrimental effect that disclosure would have on the council / the adverse effect on the interests of the person who provided the information to the council. ...”

FOR REVIEW
+++ Any ‘detrimental effect that disclosure would have on the council’ would not be covered by reliance on Regulation 12(5)(f). Any information that has been redacted for this reason should now be disclosed.
+++ Regulations 12(5)(f) and 13 apply ONLY where disclosure would adversely affect the interests of the INDIVIDUAL who provided information. Any details that have been redacted, of internal teams/departments etc or external agencies/companies etc, should therefore also now be disclosed.

With regard to ‘objections’ generally, I [again] reject the suggestion that these have all been sent to the Council ‘in confidence’.
--- If a COUNCILLOR [an elected Member] submits comments on a published planning application, in objection or support, I see no ‘good’ reason why they would (or should) expect those comments to remain ‘confidential’?
--- If a CONSULTEE submits comments (in objection or support), again I see no reason why they would (or should) expect their objection[s] to remain ‘confidential’?
--- Where a member of the PUBLIC submits comments, they should be aware, that as pointed out in the Council’s ‘Development Management Advice Note 4”:
“...legislation requires that any letter/email or online comment you send in response to an application has to be available for inspection by the applicant or anyone else interested in the application. Because of this we cannot take into account comments that are marked “confidential”. ...”

Furthermore, the following can be found on the Council’s website, under the planning application “Comments” tab:
--- “You can make a comment supporting, objecting or neutral regarding this planning application. Your comment will be submitted to the planning authority and immediately made available online to the public. ....”, and
--- “Comments that have been submitted may be viewed within the list of documents for this application.”
Under the “Help with this page” tab, visitors are also informed that “... You can view all comments submitted against this application by members of the public. ...”

UNFORTUNATELY, DESPITE WHAT THE PUBLIC WERE TOLD, THEIR COMMENTS ON THIS PLANNING APPLICATION WERE NOT MADE AVAILABLE ON THE COUNCIL’S WEBSITE.

+++ ANY “objections” that have been redacted or otherwise withheld should now be provided, with only telephone numbers and/or email addresses redacted.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

Your Ref: F/CRT/10008910

Since it is now more than 40 working days since I requested the internal review, I have now complained to the Information Commissioner about the Council's handling of this case.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

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