Complete Non-Residential / Business Property Rates Data (Q1 2021)

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

Dear Merthyr Tydfil Council,

In terms of the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, and subject to section 40(2) on personal data, could you please provide me with your local authority’s complete and most-recently updated list of all business (non-residential) property rates data, including the following fields:

- Billing Authority Property Reference Code (linking the property to the public VOA database reference)
- Firm's Trading Name (i.e. property occupant or ratepayer)
- Full Property Address (Number, Street, Postal Code, Town)
- Occupation / Vacancy status
- Date of Occupation / Vacancy
- Actual annual rates charged (in Pounds) and/or categories of reliefs/exemptions granted

If you are unable to provide an absolute “Occupation / Vacancy” status, please provide the Exemptions and / or Reliefs that a particular property may be receiving.

NOTE: While FOIs are meant to be requestor blind, these data are actively used by national government and UK universities to inform the economic response to COVID-19. Most recently, these data were used by MHCLG for the assessment of support to local authorities via the LEVELLING UP FUND.

Please publish quickly so that organisations trying to support your local authority can do so, and, if you have any difficulties, please contact me so that I may help.

Please provide these data as machine-readable as either a CSV or Microsoft Excel file, capable of re-use, and under terms of the Open Government Licence (reuse for any and all purposes, including commercial).

I last requested these data three months ago, and this is a request for your latest updated dataset.

Yours sincerely

Gavin Chait

FOI (Freedom of Information), Merthyr Tydfil Council

Diolch am eich e-bost.

Hoffem eich hysbysu ei fod yn bosibl na fyddwn yn gallu ymateb i’ch cais oddi fewn i’r fframwaith amser statudol. Mae ein staff yn delio gyda materion o flaenoriaeth uchel ar hyn o bryd ac yn hynny o beth efallai na fyddan nhw’n gallu coladu’r wybodaeth sydd ei hangen arnoch.

Bydd aelod o’r Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth ymateb cyn gynted ag sy’n bosibl gyda gwybodaeth bellach.

Diolch am eich amynedd.

Thank you for your email.

We would like to inform you that we might not be able to respond to your request within the statutory timeframe. Our staff are currently dealing with high priority matters and as such may not be able to collate the information you require.

A member of the Information Governance Team will respond to you as soon as possible with further information.

Thank you for your patience.
Croesawn ohebu yn Gymraeg a fydd hyn ddim yn arwain at oedi.

Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw ffeiliau a drosglwyddir gydag ef yn gyfrinachol ac wedi'u bwriadu ar gyfer pwy bynnag y cyfeirir ef ato neu atynt. Mae cynnwys yr e-bost hwn cynrychioli barn y sawl a enwir uchod, felly nid ydyw'n dilyn ei fod yn cynrychioli barn Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Merthyr Tudful.

Darllenwch ein hysbysiadau preifatrwydd<https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/council/data-...> i ddarganfod mwy am sut rydym yn defnyddio eich gwybodaeth bersonol.

Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Merthyr Tudful
Canolfan Dinesig
Stryd Y Castell
Merthyr Tudful
CF47 8AN

Teleffon: 01685 725000

We welcome correspondence in Welsh and this will not lead to a delay.

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. The contents of this e-mail represent the views of the individual(s) named above and do not necessarily represent the views of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Please read our privacy notices<https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/council/data-...> to find out more about how we use your personal information.

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
Civic Centre
Castle Street
Merthyr Tydfil
CF47 8AN

Telephone: 01685 725000

[https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/assets/img/lo...
http://www.merthyr.gov.uk

FOI (Freedom of Information), Merthyr Tydfil Council

 

Classification: NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED

 

Dear Sirs

 

RE: Freedom Of Information Act 2000 – INFORMATION Request

 

We have considered your request for information and on this occasion we
cannot supply the information you have requested. In accordance with
Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a
Refusal Notice.

 

The exemption applied is an absolute exemption pursuant to Section 41 of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This exemption relates to information
that was provided to us in confidence and is decided in accordance with
the data protection principles and the common law duty of confidence. The
Council considers that our duty of confidence would be jeopardised if this
information were to be disclosed as this information was provided to the
Council with expectation of confidence. By disclosing this information
into the public domain businesses may receive unwarranted and unsolicited
attention from third parties concerning their status and that of the
properties for which they are responsible.

 

We are sorry that we cannot help further on this occasion but if you are
in any way dissatisfied with the handling of your request, or have any
further information needs in the future then please contact the Data
Disclosure and Records Officer on 01685 725000 or [1][Merthyr Tydfil Council request email].
You have the right to appeal against our decision. If you wish to appeal
please set out in writing your grounds of appeal and send to:

 

Data Protection Officer

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council

Civic Centre

Castle Street

Merthyr Tydfil

CF47 8AN

 

Tel: 01685 725000

Fax: 01685 725060

Email: [2][email address]

 

You can find out more about the Act from the Information Commissioner at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office (Wales)

2^nd Floor

Churchill House

Churchill Way

Cardiff

CF10 2HH

 

Tel: 0330 414 6421

Email: [3][email address]

Website: [4]www.ico.org.uk

 

If you have any queries or concerns, or if I can be of any further
assistance, please feel free to contact me.

 

Yours faithfully

 

Swyddog Datgelu Data a Chofnodion/Data Disclosure and Records Officer

Tîm Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth/Information Governance Team

Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Merthyr Tudful/Merthyr Tydfil County Borough
Council

 

Canolfan Dinesig/Civic Centre

Stryd Y Castell/Castle Street

Merthyr Tudful/Merthyr Tydfil

CF47 8AN/CF47 8AN

Ffon/Tel: 01685 725000

E-bost/E-mail: [5][Merthyr Tydfil Council request email]

 

Croesawn ni ohebu yn y Gymraeg/We welcome correspondence in Welsh.

Croesawn ohebu yn Gymraeg a fydd hyn ddim yn arwain at oedi.

Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw ffeiliau a drosglwyddir gydag ef yn gyfrinachol
ac wedi'u bwriadu ar gyfer pwy bynnag y cyfeirir ef ato neu atynt. Mae
cynnwys yr e-bost hwn cynrychioli barn y sawl a enwir uchod, felly nid
ydyw'n dilyn ei fod yn cynrychioli barn Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Merthyr
Tudful.

Darllenwch ein [6]hysbysiadau preifatrwydd i ddarganfod mwy am sut rydym
yn defnyddio eich gwybodaeth bersonol.

Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Merthyr Tudful
Canolfan Dinesig
Stryd Y Castell
Merthyr Tudful
CF47 8AN

Teleffon: 01685 725000

We welcome correspondence in Welsh and this will not lead to a delay.

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and
intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are
addressed. The contents of this e-mail represent the views of the
individual(s) named above and do not necessarily represent the views of
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Please read our [7]privacy notices to find out more about how we use your
personal information.

Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
Civic Centre
Castle Street
Merthyr Tydfil
CF47 8AN

Telephone: 01685 725000

[8]http://www.merthyr.gov.uk

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Merthyr Tydfil Council request email]
2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.ico.org.uk/
5. mailto:[Merthyr Tydfil Council request email]
6. https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/council/data-...
7. https://www.merthyr.gov.uk/council/data-...
8. http://www.merthyr.gov.uk/

Dear Merthyr Tydfil Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Merthyr Tydfil Council's handling of my FOI request 'Complete Non-Residential / Business Property Rates Data (Q1 2021)'.

On April 12, 2021, I sent an FOI request in terms of the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, and subject to section 40(2) on personal data, for a complete and up-to-date list of all business (non-residential) property rates data for your local authority, and including the following fields:

- Billing Authority Property Reference Code (linking the property to the VOA database reference)
- Firm's Trading Name (i.e. property occupant or ratepayer)
- Full Property Address (Number, Street, Postal Code, Town)
- Occupation / Vacancy status
- Date of Occupation / Vacancy
- Actual annual rates charged (in Pounds) or categories of reliefs/exemptions granted

My request has been refused in terms of Section 41.

According to the Information Commissioner's Office, "Section 41 applies to information that has been obtained from another person and whose disclosure to the public would constitute an actionable breach of confidence."

Please could you specify precisely which data you refuse to release, and under what terms you consider this to be in confidence (i.e. in what way are you bound by the non-commercial ratepayer to hold these data in confidence).

From my perspective, none of these data can be considered to be in confidence:

- Billing Authority Reference Code: already public, used by the Valuations Office to permit cross-referencing of their data to that of local authorities; it is already published in public;
- Firm’s Trading Name: already published via Companies House for all registered companies, and often published in advertising materials by businesses themselves;
- Full property address: already published by numerous agencies, including the VOA;
- State of Occupation: visible to anyone walking past the property, and collected manually by commercial services like Local Data Company; this is also advertised when properties are placed on the market (i.e. no tenant is affected if there is no tenant), or when existing tenants advertise their services;
- Date of Occupation / Vacancy: as with state of occupation;
- Actual annual rates charged: commercial data relevant to the operation of the local authority, and critical to understanding local authority revenue collection;

Simply be way of illustration, here are several links where entire business databases are publicly presented (i.e. openly accessible) which contain details of commercial business data, including addresses, names of tenants and from where dates of occupation are presented, or may be derived based on the date of such data being added or updated into these databases:

- Valuations Office Authority publishes a regularly-updated schedule of all ratepayers and valuations at https://voaratinglists.blob.core.windows... including addresses and billing-authority reference numbers. This also includes a data schedule which - while not complete - contains a significant proportion of names of ratepayers and dates of occupation;
- Yelp.com has an API for their database of businesses permitting complete access and interrogation of their comprehensive database of business information, available at https://www.yelp.com/developers;
- Companies House provides developer tools and search facilities on all company information in the UK, including address, company activity, and financial disclosure, https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about...
- And there are numerous other companies, such as Yell.com, 118118.com and so on which all provide aggregated data on businesses;

You do not state in your rejection what data in my request you regard as ‘in confidence’, and it is unclear how you have arrived at this conclusion.

The combination of these data permit us to reconcile your individual authority data with that of the Valuations Office and so create a single, unified database of commercial property vacancy across England and Wales, as well as the actual revenue raised from these commercial properties.

I should also note that, of the 349 local authorities in England and Wales, over 75% of these either already make these data available, or have done so in response to FOI requests from ourselves. Of those who have refused, only a handful have ever claimed that the data were collected ‘in confidence’.

I ask that you reconsider your decision and make this data available to us under terms which permit our use thereof.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Chait