Financial Support agreed with Aston Martin

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Welsh Government,

Please provide details of the financial support agreed with Aston Martin to create 750 jobs at St Athan.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gallard

Llywodraeth Cymru

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Gallard
 
Please find attached an acknowledgment to your recent request for
information.  Please direct any replies to [1]es&[email address] . 
 
Regards,
 
Trystan.
Uned Busnes y Llywodraeth I Government Business Unit
Adran yr Economi, Gwyddoniaeth a Thrafnidiaeth I Department for Economy,
Science and Transport
Llywodraeth Cymru| Welsh Government
 
 
On leaving the Government Secure Intranet this email was certified virus
free. Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored
and/or recorded for legal purposes.
Wrth adael Mewnrwyd Ddiogel y Llywodraeth nid oedd unrhyw feirws yn
gysylltiedig â’r neges hon. Mae’n ddigon posibl y bydd unrhyw ohebiaeth
drwy’r GSi yn cael ei logio, ei monitro a/neu ei chofnodi yn awtomatig am
resymau cyfreithiol.

References

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1. mailto:es&[email address]

Dear Welsh Government,

Hello- in your initial response you indicated that my query would be addressed by 14th March. We are now nine days beyond that deadline. Please can you advise when you are likely to respond. By law the deadline for your response is tomorrow, the 24th March

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gallard

Llywodraeth Cymru

1 Atodiad

 
Please find attached a reply to your recent request for information. 
Please direct any replies to [1]es&[email address] . 
 
Uned Busnes y Llywodraeth I Government Business Unit
Adran yr Economi, Gwyddoniaeth a Thrafnidiaeth I Department for Economy,
Science and Transport
Llywodraeth Cymru| Welsh Government
 
 
 
On leaving the Government Secure Intranet this email was certified virus
free. Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored
and/or recorded for legal purposes.
Wrth adael Mewnrwyd Ddiogel y Llywodraeth nid oedd unrhyw feirws yn
gysylltiedig â’r neges hon. Mae’n ddigon posibl y bydd unrhyw ohebiaeth
drwy’r GSi yn cael ei logio, ei monitro a/neu ei chofnodi yn awtomatig am
resymau cyfreithiol.

References

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1. mailto:es&[email address]

Dear Welsh Government,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Welsh Government's handling of my FOI request 'Financial Support agreed with Aston Martin'.

Firstly can you confirm if you consulted (in accordance with the Secretary of State's Code of Practice, and as requred by the ICO guidance) with Aston Martin on the release of this information. The ICO states:

" in claiming the exemption on the basis of prejudice to the commercial interests of a third party, the public authority must have evidence that this does in fact represent or reflect the view of the third party. The public authority cannot speculate in this respect; the prejudice must be based on evidence provided by the third party, whether during the time for compliance with a specific request or as a result of prior consultation. This approach has been confirmed by the Information Tribunal"

You say in Annex A that information about funding details reveals "historic commercial information, proposed activities and business development proposals".

You also state that (concerning information about the taxpayer support of Aston Martin)

"I do not believe that it would be of interest to the wider public" .

This is a pretty staggering assertion. Firstly an FOI request is not required to be of interest to the wider public. The test that should be applied is whether the release is in the public interest. To quote from the ICO guidance on the public interest test

"The public interest here means the public good, not what is of interest to the public"

The ICO also confirm that:

"Clearly there is a public interest in the scrutiny of how public money is spent. This will be equally true whether a public authority is purchasing goods or services or responsible for awarding grants to private sector companies. "

Further on you state

"I do not believe there is any pressing public interest in the release of the funding details"

Please can you confirm where the concept of a 'pressing public interest' comes from? ICO guidance states that the presumption should always be in favour of disclosure. There is no need for a 'pressing public interest' in order to release information.

I agree that historic commercial information (where not available in Aston Martin's published accounts), proposed activities, and business development proposals are commercially sensitive. However- this is not what I asked for. I asked for details of the funding that Welsh Government has agreed to supply to Aston Martin. I do not want to see any of their commercial information. I'd also note that FOI guidance suggests

"If there are portions of a document that cannot be disclosed due to one of the above exemptions,
disclosure is still favored, with redactions that are as limited as possible."

Please confirm whether it was considered whether a redacted version of what I requested could have been provided, and if not, why not.

I'd also note that Welsh Government frequently publishes information on the amount of grant funding given to companies (e.g http://gov.wales/newsroom/businessandeco... ), so it is clearly not the case that this information is necessarily commercially sensitive.

In conclusion I'd like you to internally review this request with particular attention paid to:

1.) Whether the correct decision was made in testing whether information was "of interest to the wider public" rather than whether release was in the public interest.
2.) Whether Aston Martin was consulted about the release of this information, as required by the ICO guidance.
3.) Whether the information I have requested can be provided by redacting documents to protect any commercially sensitive information. It should not be necessary to provide details about Aston Martin's business plan in order to release how much money Welsh Government has agreed to pay them.

Many thanks,

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

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gallard

Dear Welsh Government,

Please can you acknowledge you have received my request for an internal review, and advise on the timescale in which you will respond.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gallard

Dear Welsh Government,

I am chasing again to ask for a timescale for a response to this request for a review. I would like to remind you that you have 20 working days from the time I requested the review (24th March) in order to complete the review and respond (that would be by the end of the week).

I have still received no acknowledgement of my complaint- and I would ask that you acknowledge that you are proceeding with the review, and when it will be completed.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gallard

Dear Welsh Government,

This internal review is now overdue. This was due to be responsed to by the end of last week- but I have had no communication since submitting the review. We're now 2 days after the 20 day limit. Please could you chase up with the relevant team and find out what is going on. I'm sure your aware that ICO guidance suggests that if the 20 day limit is to be breached- I should have received an email telling me this, and the reasons for the delay

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Gallard

Llywodraeth Cymru

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Gallard,
 
Please find attached a response to your recent complaint.  Please direct
any replies to [1]es&[email address] . 
 
Regards,
 
Uned Busnes y Llywodraeth I Government Business Unit
Adran yr Economi, Gwyddoniaeth a Thrafnidiaeth I Department for Economy,
Science and Transport
Llywodraeth Cymru| Welsh Government
 
 
On leaving the Government Secure Intranet this email was certified virus
free. Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored
and/or recorded for legal purposes.
Wrth adael Mewnrwyd Ddiogel y Llywodraeth nid oedd unrhyw feirws yn
gysylltiedig â’r neges hon. Mae’n ddigon posibl y bydd unrhyw ohebiaeth
drwy’r GSi yn cael ei logio, ei monitro a/neu ei chofnodi yn awtomatig am
resymau cyfreithiol.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:es&[email address]

Llywodraeth Cymru

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Gallard
 
Please find attached a letter regarding your freedom of information
request.
 
Regards
Gill
 
Gill Davies
Head of Government Business Drafting Team / Pennaeth Tîm Drafftio Busnes y
Llywodraeth
Department for Economy, Science and Transport / Adran yr Economi,
Gwyddoniaeth a Thrafnidiaeth
 
Tel / Ffon: 029 2082 3293
e-mail / e-bost:
[email address][1][email address]
 
 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd Thomas Gallard anodiad ()

This case is currently with the Information Commissioner. The Welsh Government provided an updated response, removing their reliance on section 43- here is my response to the ICO:

Hello,

I'm writing to you as I note that the Welsh Government has provided a new response to this case, removing the reliance on section 43, and instead relying on

Section 29(1)(b) – The economy
Section 36(2)(c) – The effective conduct of public affairs.

I'm just writing with a few quick thoughts on this new line of argument, which I'd like you to take into consideration.

The main thrust of argument is now (I believe) summarised as:

Attracting and keeping major businesses is a very competitive market and releasing information on the amount of support provided to one business could be used by others to try to force the Welsh Government’s hand to provide similar levels of funding

I do not agree with this line of argument. More importantly, the Welsh Government has, across a long period, released information about the level of support provided to companies. Here are some examples, all taken from the Gov.wales website:

ClothCat receives £225k of Welsh Government funding (5th December 2016)
Amplyfi receives £400k of Welsh Government funding (24th November 2016)
ElectoImpact receives £282k of Welsh Government funding (16th November 2016)
Ford recieves £14.67m of Welsh Government funding (September 2015)

Admittedly, the support provided to Aston Martin is likely to be at a larger scale than all but the last of these examples, but I don't believe the principle is any different (nor is there any such argument made in the Welsh Government's response).

Ultimately- I believe there is an overriding public interest in how large amounts of tax payers money is spent. While being sympathetic to the financial interests of the Welsh Government, they have chosen to publicise the success of bringing Aston Martin to Wales widely (here- for example, is the First Minister meeting with them - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-35640..., and here are Welsh Labour taking political credit for the jobs created ) .

It is a key part of our political system that we are able to judge politicians on results. There is a huge public interest in knowing how much was spent on bringing Aston Martin to Wales so that we, the citizens and taxpayers, can decide if it was a good deal or not.

Thanks very much,

Gadawodd Thomas Gallard anodiad ()

The ICO has ruled in favour of my appeal, and ordered the Welsh Government to release this information
https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

Llywodraeth Cymru

1 Atodiad

  • Attachment

    ATISN 10230 T Gallard Aston Martin funding ICO Decision Notice reply.pdf

    139K Download View as HTML

Dear Mr Gallard,
 
Please find attached a letter following the recent decent decision
notice.  Please direct any replies to
[1][email address].
 
Cofion/Regards,
 
Uned Busnes y Llywodraeth / Government Business Unit
Adran yr Economi a’r Seilwaith/ Department for Economy and Infrastructure
Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government
QED Centre, Treforest, RCT, CF37 5YR
 
 
 
 
On leaving the Government Secure Intranet this email was certified virus
free. Communications via the GSi may be automatically logged, monitored
and/or recorded for legal purposes.
Wrth adael Mewnrwyd Ddiogel y Llywodraeth nid oedd unrhyw feirws yn
gysylltiedig â’r neges hon. Mae’n ddigon posibl y bydd unrhyw ohebiaeth
drwy’r GSi yn cael ei logio, ei monitro a/neu ei chofnodi yn awtomatig am
resymau cyfreithiol.

References

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1. mailto:[email address]

Gadawodd Richard Taylor anodiad ()

The BBC have an article reporting on the information released in response to this request:

"Aston Martin plant funding by Welsh Government revealed" - 2 June 2017
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-40132...

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