Additional Request

James Buchanan made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Liverpool City Region Combined Authority,

In response to a previous FOI you have referred to "James Gill in his role as Chair of the Strategic Investment Fund Panel."

A review of the Combined Authority website and of the Authority meeting schedule provides no reference to this Panel.

Please answer the following questions:

What is the Strategic Investment Fund Panel?

Who are the members of the Panel?

It is assumed by the title that the Panel has a role in the allocation of Combined Authority investment funds. Why is the membership of the Panel not listed are why are meetings not listed on the website of the Combined Authority?

Please provide copies of all papers and minutes of meetings of the Panel at which James Gill was present.

Who appointed Mr Gill and given his involvement with a developer in Liverpool who deemed that appropriate? Was this a decision of Steve Rotherham?

Was James Gill's involvement with MIDIA known by the Combined Authority and Steve Rotherham when Mr Gill was appointed?

Yours faithfully,

James Buchanan

FOI CA, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Dear Mr Buchanan

RSN22078

Thank you for your email to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority. Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 / Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and we will aim to provide a response within twenty working days.

Please note that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Information Commissioner’s Office has acknowledged that resources may be diverted away from functions such as responding to information requests to ensure that other services can still be delivered. This may mean that a response is provided outside of the stautory timeframe. Your patience is appreciated at this extraordinary time.

If you have any queries about this request do not hesitate to contact me. Please quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Henderson

Senior Information Management Officer | LCRCA | Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
Office: 0151 330 1679 | Email: [Liverpool City Region Combined Authority request email]

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

FOI CA, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority

Dear Mr Buchanan

RSN22078

Thank you for your recent request made under the Freedom of Information Act. Please find the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s response to your enquiry below.

What is the Strategic Investment Fund Panel?

The Investment Panel provides advice and guidance on the application of the Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund. The role of the panel is set out in the Combined Authority’s Investment Strategy and Assurance Framework. The latest versions of these were approved by the Combined Authority in September 2020 and are available on the Combined Authority website at this link.

Who are the members of the Panel?

The current members of the panel are:

• Helen Heap
• Helen Legg
• James Gill
• Janet Hemingway
• John Flamson
• Leon Rossiter
• Mark Rawstron
• Michael Birkett
• Phil McCann
• Paul Karakusevic
• Amanda Lamb
• Claire Dove

They participate in a personal capacity i.e. they are not representatives of any organisation.

It is assumed by the title that the Panel has a role in the allocation of Combined Authority investment funds. Why is the membership of the Panel not listed are why are meetings not listed on the website of the Combined Authority?

As above, the role of the Investment Panel is set out in the Assurance Framework and Investment Strategy. The Investment Panel has no decision making powers and is advisory only. Any recommendations of the Investment Panel are made available to the Combined Authority as part of its decision making process. These recommendations are included with the Combined Authority reports available on our website at this link.

Please provide copies of all papers and minutes of meetings of the Panel at which James Gill was present.

By way of background, the Strategic Investment Fund has awarded grants to c.250 projects since its foundation in 2016. All of these projects, as well as those ultimately not put forward to Combined Authority meetings, have been considered by the SIF Panel, which Mr Gill has chaired for the vast majority of its existence.

As defined by Section 12 of the Act, the cost limit for responding to a request under the Act for a local government body is set at £450, which is calculated at a rate of £25 per hour (totalling the equivalent of 18 hours’ work). When considering the cost of responding, the Combined Authority is able to take into account the time spent

a) determining whether the information is held;
b) locating the information;
c) retrieving the original record, and
d) extracting the requested data from the original record.

Should the cost exceed this appropriate limit, the authority has no obligation to fulfil the request. Given that the SIF Panel has been in existence for almost five years, has met c.50 times and has considered many hundreds of applications (250 successful, many more unsuccessful), the basic process of pulling all the requested information together for disclosure is highly likely to exceed the 18 hour cost limited permitted.

Time spent considering the possible application of exemptions cannot be counted under Section 12, but it can under Section 14(1), allows a request to be refused when providing a response would place a disproportionate burden on the public body. The Information Commissioner has published guidance on the use of Section 14 at this link.

Given the nature of the SIF Panel’s work, the papers they consider contain a great deal of detailed financial and commercially sensitive information of the histories of the applicants and how a SIF grant would be utilised. Consideration would therefore have to be given to Section 43 of the Act (‘Commercial Interests’) for each paper considered, which would involve a consultation exercise with the applicant and subsequent weighing of the public interest test by the Combined Authority. Even at an extremely conservative estimate of one hour of work per paper, this would take in excess of 250 hours of officer time to complete.

The Commissioner’s guidance states that a public body will have a sufficient case that responding to a request would place them under a disproportionate effort when:

• The requester has asked for a substantial volume of information AND
• The authority has real concerns about potentially exempt information, which it will be able to substantiate if asked to do so by the ICO AND
• Any potentially exempt information cannot easily be isolated because it is scattered throughout the requested material.

The Combined Authority is of the opinion that all three aspects are satisfied in this case.

The Commissioner’s guidance also states that “the key question to ask is whether the request is likely to cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress […] This will usually be a matter of objectively judging the evidence of the impact on the authority and weighing this against any evidence about the purpose and value of the request.” There have been, to our knowledge, no allegations of impropriety related to the recommendations of the SIF Panel, which, as stated above, are not a decision-making body in any event. There is, in the Combined Authority’s view, no overriding argument that would justify the significant burden that responding to this question would bring.

For the reasons stated above, this aspect of your request is refused in accordance with Section 12 and Section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act.

In accordance with Section 16 of the Act, and to provide you with relevant advice and assistance, should you wish to reduce the scope of your enquiry to particular project, theme or timeframe, we would be happy to reconsider your request in line with the legislation.

Who appointed Mr Gill and given his involvement with a developer in Liverpool who deemed that appropriate? Was this a decision of Steve Rotherham?

All appointments to the SIF Panel are made by at the meetings of the Combined Authority, details of which are on our website at this link.

As set out in the Assurance Framework: “The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority will appoint independent members following an open advert and selection process led by the Authority’s Nomination Committee which includes the Combined Authority’s Head of Paid Service, Director Commercial Investment and Development and Managing Director of the Local Enterprise Partnership.”

Was James Gill's involvement with MIDIA known by the Combined Authority and Steve Rotherham when Mr Gill was appointed?

All applicants to become SIF Panel members provided details of their background and expertise to allow the Nomination Committee to make suggestions on appropriate appointments.

Furthermore, all Panel members are required to declare any conflicts of interests as they may arise.

We can advise that non-commissioned projects are first considered by an internal panel, chaired by Mark Bousfield (NB. Mr Gill has no involvement with this stage). If approved they are then presented to the external SIF Panel. MIDIA did submit an application, which was not approved by the internal panel and was therefore not considered by the SIF Panel. As Mr Gill has not been involved in putting forward any recommendations for the award of SIF monies to MIDIA, a declaration of interests at a meeting has not been required.

I trust that this information is of interest to you.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review, which should be addressed to:
Jill Coule
Chief Legal Officer / Monitoring Officer
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority
[email address]

If you are not content with the result of your internal review, you also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, whose address is
The Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF
www.ico.org.uk

Andy Henderson

Senior Information Management Officer | LCRCA | Mann Island, PO Box 1976, Liverpool, L69 3HN
Office: 0151 330 1679 | Email: [Liverpool City Region Combined Authority request email]

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

The information supplied continues to be protected by copyright. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including for private study and non-commercial research and for any other purpose authorised by an exception in current copyright law. Documents (except photographs) can also be used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example, commercial publication would require the permission of the copyright holder.

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir