Aberdeen City's relationship with Aberdeen Journals Ltd

Suzanne Kelly made this Freedom of Information request to Aberdeen City Council

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Dear Aberdeen City Council,

I note you have refused to answer recent FOI requests concerning what rent, if any Aberdeen Journals Ltd (Press & Journal, Evening Express) are paying for premises in Marischal College, who approved any such deal(s), how long any free rent period lasts, commercial value of any rent, consideration, loan etc made by the council to AJL and its companies. You relied on

I remind you that the Information Commissioner ruled not long ago in my favour and forced you to release information you tried to withhold concerning Stewart Milne's deals with ACC. The Council tried to rely on 'commercial confidentiality'. The Information Commissioner decided that the clear public interest outweighed any such exemption, not least because when a deal with public money is concluded, the public have a right to know how such deal was arrived at.

With that as background, please release forthwith: a. market value per square metre of office space in Marischal Square (for convenience Marischal Square = the new build across the road from the city's Marischal College office where the Press & Journal and Evening Express are operating from); b. the amount the Press & Journal is paying per square metre; c. if that amount is less than the market value, then supply all correspondence concerning how the lower rate was arrived at; d. minutes of any committee meeting at which this subject and rental rate was mentioned that are not in the public domain; in any event supply all correspondence between Aberdeen Journals Ltd companies (known commonly as Evening Express and Press & Journal and any AJL entities) for the period 1 January 2017 through the present day - to include invoices, agreements, memos, formal legal documents, emails, letters, memos, phone call records; e. advise whether or not Aberdeen City Council personnel, elected officials, staff have accepted any discounts, hospitality, gifts, favours from Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its companies for the period 1 January 2017 through the present day - this to include officers and the Chief Executive.

I do not support your reliance on 'commercial confidentiality -not only is this not applicable to deals concluded that involve public money, but in this instance there is an intermingling of press and government which seems without precedent which gives rise to many concerns.

Yours faithfully,

Suzanne Kelly

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

Information enquiry reference FOI-19-0730.

 

Thank you for your recent request for information, which we received on 27
May 2019.

 

The scheduled date for our response to your request for information is on
or before 25 June 2019.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries in the
meantime.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

[1]ACC_Crest_for Tomina Egbuson | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College |Business Hub 17,  3^rd Floor | Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522166

[2]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
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to regular monitoring.

References

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Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

Thank you for your request for information, made under Section 1(1) of the
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA), and received on 27 May
2019.

 

d.  minutes of any committee meeting at which this subject and rental rate
was mentioned that are not in the public domain; in any event supply all
correspondence between Aberdeen Journals Ltd companies (known commonly as
Evening Express and Press & Journal and any AJL entities) for the period 1
January 2017 through the present day - to include invoices, agreements,
memos, formal legal documents, emails, letters, memos, phone call records;

 

Could you please clarify if you are looking for the correspondence held by
the whole Council or the ones within a particular Service ? Could you
please provide more explanation ?

 

Clarifying these points will help us to be sure we are providing, where
possible, the information you are interested in.  Please note we will keep
your request on file for 20 working days whilst we await your
clarification.  It can often be helpful to discuss your request with a
member of our team who may be able to help you frame your request or
explain more about how ACC holds its information; if this is something you
feel may be helpful please do call us, and we will be happy to assist you.

 

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

[1]ACC_Crest_for Salomeh Kheyri Rad | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College | Business Hub 17 | 3^rd Floor | Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522166

[2]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
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Dear Foi Enquiries,

I clearly mean the whole council. Please now also explain why you asked if I only meant a particular service. The remit - renting/giving space to AJL companies must be narrow enough for the search to be done.

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Kelly

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

Information enquiry reference FOI-19-0730.

 

Many thanks for your recent clarification of your information request,
which we received on 10 June 2019. 

 

The scheduled date for our response to your request for information is on
or before 08 July 2019.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries in the
meantime.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

[1]ACC_Crest_for Salomeh Kheyri Rad | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College | Business Hub 17 | 3^rd Floor | Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522166

[2]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
from viruses, we cannot be responsible for any viruses transmitted with
this email and recommend that you subject any incoming email to your own
virus checking procedures. Unless related to Council business, the
opinions expressed in this email are those of the sender and they do not
necessarily constitute those of Aberdeen City Council. Unless we expressly
say otherwise in this email or its attachments, neither this email nor its
attachments create, form part of or vary any contractual or unilateral
obligation. Aberdeen City Council's incoming and outgoing email is subject
to regular monitoring.

References

Visible links
2. http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/

Dear Foi Enquiries,

Should this request, as I suspect, require my asking the Information Commissioner to intervene, I am going on record as calling your request for clarification, viz 'did I mean the whole council' to be a frivolous, transparent attempt to delay responding to me.

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Kelly

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

Dear Ms Kelly,

Thank you for your e-mail and please accept our apologies for delay in getting back to you.

Please note that we were advised by the relevant Service to seek clarification which we have the right to do so. Asking for clarification does not mean we wish to postpone providing a response to you, it is because we want to make sure an accurate response is provided to your information request.

Hope this helps and please let us know in case of any further details needed.

Kind regards

Salomeh Kheyri Rad | Access to Information Officer
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team | Customer Feedback |Customer
Marischal College | Business Hub 17 | 3rd Floor | Broad Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

Dial: 01224 522166
www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC | Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

show quoted sections

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

Please accept our sincerest apologies that ACC has failed to respond to
your information request within the statutory 20 working days. 

 

ACC is endeavouring to ensure you receive a response within the next 5
working days, but would like to take this opportunity to advise you that,
as ACC has missed the statutory deadline for responding, you are entitled
to request a review.  More information about requesting a review is
included in the Further Information section, below.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

If ACC has failed to respond to your information request within the
statutory 20 working days you can submit a complaint or request a review
of our response. You should do this within 40 working days after receipt
of this information. To complain or request a review, please write to:

 

Access to Information Team
Customer Feedback
Corporate Experience
Aberdeen City Council
3^rd Floor North

Business Hub 17

Marischal College
Broad Street
ABERDEEN AB10 1AQ

Email: [1][Aberdeen City Council request email]

Your request for review must include your name, an address, and your
reason(s) for requesting a review. You should also include the reference
number for your original request for information.

               

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your request for review, you
can apply directly to the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner
(OSIC) for a decision. Generally, OSIC cannot make a decision unless you
have been through the Council’s review procedure. The Scottish Information
Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

The Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

Kinburn Castle

Doubledykes Road

St Andrews

Fife

KY16 9DS

[2]www.itspublicknowledge.info

 

Should you wish to appeal against the Scottish Information Commissioner's
decision, there is an appeal to the Court of Session on a point of law
only. Any such appeal must be made within 42 days after the date of the
decision has been issued.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

[3]ACC_Crest_for Tomina Egbuson | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College |Business Hub 17,  3^rd Floor | Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522166

[4]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
from viruses, we cannot be responsible for any viruses transmitted with
this email and recommend that you subject any incoming email to your own
virus checking procedures. Unless related to Council business, the
opinions expressed in this email are those of the sender and they do not
necessarily constitute those of Aberdeen City Council. Unless we expressly
say otherwise in this email or its attachments, neither this email nor its
attachments create, form part of or vary any contractual or unilateral
obligation. Aberdeen City Council's incoming and outgoing email is subject
to regular monitoring.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Aberdeen City Council request email]
2. http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/
4. http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/

Dear Foi Enquiries,

On 9 July you wrote to say you were expecting to have a reply to me within days. I have not had that reply on this thread; I do not seem to have it via email or post either.

If you had given the Press & Journal a market rate, I am confident you would have already disclosed as much. You will be aware that press reports said the Press & Journal was going to either get 'free' or peppercorn rent for its premises.

You are extremely late in replying.

You asked for a clarification which still seems entirely frivolous to me: there was no reason to think that I only wanted information on this serious matter from any specific department, and it is clear that a great many departments and individuals will have been involved in the decision making - whatever the rent it.

Please answer now. The points in this latest message from me include items I will be asking you to cover in any internal review, which if you can't supply the information shortly will be requested.

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Kelly

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

We sincerely apologise for the delay in providing a response to this
request. We are currently chasing the relevant service, as a matter of
urgency,  to get the information we need in order to respond.

 

As soon as we get what we need from the service, we will issue a response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

[1]ACC_Crest_for Tomina Egbuson | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College |Business Hub 17,  3^rd Floor | Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522166

[2]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
from viruses, we cannot be responsible for any viruses transmitted with
this email and recommend that you subject any incoming email to your own
virus checking procedures. Unless related to Council business, the
opinions expressed in this email are those of the sender and they do not
necessarily constitute those of Aberdeen City Council. Unless we expressly
say otherwise in this email or its attachments, neither this email nor its
attachments create, form part of or vary any contractual or unilateral
obligation. Aberdeen City Council's incoming and outgoing email is subject
to regular monitoring.

References

Visible links
2. http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/

Dear Foi Enquiries,

Per your last message "We sincerely apologise for the delay in providing a response to this
request. We are currently chasing the relevant service, as a matter of
urgency, to get the information we need in order to respond. As soon as we get what we need from the service, we will issue a response."

I think you should have that information by now. Councillor William Young does not believe me when I shared on social media that this request is taking so long; he believes this should be readily available. Which department is it that needs months to provide data on this simple matter?

Cllr Young also posted that he believes it will be market rent that Aberdeen Journals is paying for the space. If that were so, I am convinced the city would be positively crowing about it.

May I now have my information please?

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Kelly

Dear Foi Enquiries,

Further to my last message, I can only conclude from the massive delay in this request, that you must be renting the space to Aberdeen Journals Ltd at less than the market rate. If not, you would have answered a and b of my request long ago.

On the offchance that the city is renting the space at market rate, and seeing as you have not supplied any information whatsoever, I am now asking that while you collect the data, you supply answers to a and b now; which for ease of reference are: "a. market value per square metre of office space in Marischal Square (for convenience Marischal Square = the new build across the road from the city's Marischal College office where the Press & Journal and Evening Express are operating from); b. the amount the Press & Journal is paying per square metre"

If the city does not have this information at its fingertips, easily accessible electronically, then I conclude something is drastically wrong with financial and clerical management I give you until Wednesday of this coming week to supply answers to a and b, and the rest can follow - although it should not be a long wait as you no doubt have been assembling the data all these weeks.

If despite all of your assurances the council now plans not to answer this FOI, let me know by Wednesday as well, and I will then take this to the information commissioner's office.

Yours

Suzanne Kelly

Dear Foi Enquiries,

Tomorrow is the deadline; then I will ask you to carry out an internal review - my grounds will be spelled out in detail. I thought you would like to know Cllr William Young has just again written on Facebook he is sure that AJL is paying market rate for the Marischal Square premises it has from the city: if that is the case, then why this delay?

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Kelly

Dear Aberdeen City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Aberdeen City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Aberdeen City's relationship with Aberdeen Journals Ltd'.

I expect a robus, in-depth review which will address every failing that our correspondence history shows; this to include:

1. The scheduled date for our response to your request for information is on
or before 25 June 2019 - which has been failed badly, despite your assurances the information was being sourced and would be with me shortly, nothing has been forthcoming.

2. ACC asked me to 'clarify' d) of my request which was: "d. minutes of any committee meeting at which this subject and rental rate was mentioned that are not in the public domain; in any event supply all correspondence between Aberdeen Journals Ltd companies (known commonly as Evening Express and Press & Journal and any AJL entities) for the period 1 January 2017 through the present day - to include invoices, agreements, memos, formal legal documents, emails, letters, memos, phone call records;"

You wrote: "Could you please clarify if you are looking for the correspondence held by the whole Council or the ones within a particular Service ? Could you please provide more explanation ?"

Your review must cover what precisely in d) needed clarification or explanation - it is a completely clear, detailed request. You must also explain to me why you felt it necessary to ask for an explanation "looking for the correspondence held by the whole Council or the ones within a particular Service ?" : explaining why you thought I meant a particular service or services, and why I would want to limit my request to a particular service or services. Please also address my previously-stated concern that this question of whether I meant a service or the whole council is a stalling technique, which looking at the time this request has taken and the sensitivity of the material I want - which is in the public interest to have - was not disclosed. I repeat my reply to this curious clarification request, and want you to address it as part of your detailed review and response: "The remit - renting/giving space to AJL companies must be narrow enough for the search to be done."

3. What is the 'relevant service' that is unable to supply the information requested? As per your 3 July response to me and later responses to me, you talk of a 'relevant service' without ever identifying the service/department by name: why is that? Finance for one will have, electronically and easily-accessible, information on detailed invoices/bills sent to AJL for the property in question: I consider that responding to my request, at least for the financial side, could have been done within a week and that's being generous. Please advise the name of the service that has kept us waiting all these months to supply the information? This is to be part of your review and response.

4. For the record, I referred in my FOI to the previous Information Commissioner's decision to release information you held on Stewart Milne/his companies in which the IC's office found that once a contract involving public money was in place, it was no longer a sensitive commercial matter, but something the public should have access to, as public money was involved. This applies here as well obviously; your review should tell me whether or not you debated not honouring my request, and if so, on what grounds you planned not to honour my request.

5. As part of our correspondence, I remind you that Cllr William Young has repeatedly stated AJL is paying a fair commercial rate for the property and that the information should be available very quickly as to what the amount is: Your review and response to me should explain how an elected member of your council's position about the rate AJL pays and the speed of which the information should have been available differs so very greatly from your failure to provide it.

6. At no point did the city offer to give me a portion of the information - you could always have offered to give me the figures requested swiftly, and could have asked for my patience while you gathered the requested correspondence - even if given the narrow topic of such correspondence it should not have been as time consuming as it proved for you to provide. I consider it a failure of the FOI team not to have made such an offer to me, and this should be addressed in your review and explained to me.

I consider this to be the main thrust of what your review should take in, but you may add other failings that you may be aware of in your internal processes that led to this disastrous handling of the request as part of your review and advise me what they are. If I do think of further relevant issues, I will add them to this request no later than the end of play today.

You can either supply the information today, or press ahead with this internal review and report back to me.

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

Yours faithfully,

Suzanne Kelly

Claire Barranger-Clark, Aberdeen City Council

Dear Suzanne,

I can confirm that I have received your email, and will respond tomorrow,

Kind Regards

Claire

Claire Barranger-Clark | Senior Access to Information Officer
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team | Customer Feedback |Customer
Marischal College |Business Hub 6, 1st Floor| Broad Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

Dial: 01224 522166
www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC | Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

From: Suzanne Kelly [mailto:[FOI #578927 email]]
Sent: 19 September 2019 11:25
To: Foi Enquiries <[email address]>
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Aberdeen City's relationship with Aberdeen Journals Ltd

Dear Aberdeen City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Aberdeen City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Aberdeen City's relationship with Aberdeen Journals Ltd'.

I expect a robus, in-depth review which will address every failing that our correspondence history shows; this to include:

1. The scheduled date for our response to your request for information is on or before 25 June 2019 - which has been failed badly, despite your assurances the information was being sourced and would be with me shortly, nothing has been forthcoming.

2. ACC asked me to 'clarify' d) of my request which was: "d. minutes of any committee meeting at which this subject and rental rate was mentioned that are not in the public domain; in any event supply all correspondence between Aberdeen Journals Ltd companies (known commonly as Evening Express and Press & Journal and any AJL entities) for the period 1 January 2017 through the present day - to include invoices, agreements, memos, formal legal documents, emails, letters, memos, phone call records;"

You wrote: "Could you please clarify if you are looking for the correspondence held by the whole Council or the ones within a particular Service ? Could you please provide more explanation ?"

Your review must cover what precisely in d) needed clarification or explanation - it is a completely clear, detailed request. You must also explain to me why you felt it necessary to ask for an explanation "looking for the correspondence held by the whole Council or the ones within a particular Service ?" : explaining why you thought I meant a particular service or services, and why I would want to limit my request to a particular service or services. Please also address my previously-stated concern that this question of whether I meant a service or the whole council is a stalling technique, which looking at the time this request has taken and the sensitivity of the material I want - which is in the public interest to have - was not disclosed. I repeat my reply to this curious clarification request, and want you to address it as part of your detailed review and response: "The remit - renting/giving space to AJL companies must be narrow enough for the search to be done."

3. What is the 'relevant service' that is unable to supply the information requested? As per your 3 July response to me and later responses to me, you talk of a 'relevant service' without ever identifying the service/department by name: why is that? Finance for one will have, electronically and easily-accessible, information on detailed invoices/bills sent to AJL for the property in question: I consider that responding to my request, at least for the financial side, could have been done within a week and that's being generous. Please advise the name of the service that has kept us waiting all these months to supply the information? This is to be part of your review and response.

4. For the record, I referred in my FOI to the previous Information Commissioner's decision to release information you held on Stewart Milne/his companies in which the IC's office found that once a contract involving public money was in place, it was no longer a sensitive commercial matter, but something the public should have access to, as public money was involved. This applies here as well obviously; your review should tell me whether or not you debated not honouring my request, and if so, on what grounds you planned not to honour my request.

5. As part of our correspondence, I remind you that Cllr William Young has repeatedly stated AJL is paying a fair commercial rate for the property and that the information should be available very quickly as to what the amount is: Your review and response to me should explain how an elected member of your council's position about the rate AJL pays and the speed of which the information should have been available differs so very greatly from your failure to provide it.

6. At no point did the city offer to give me a portion of the information - you could always have offered to give me the figures requested swiftly, and could have asked for my patience while you gathered the requested correspondence - even if given the narrow topic of such correspondence it should not have been as time consuming as it proved for you to provide. I consider it a failure of the FOI team not to have made such an offer to me, and this should be addressed in your review and explained to me.

I consider this to be the main thrust of what your review should take in, but you may add other failings that you may be aware of in your internal processes that led to this disastrous handling of the request as part of your review and advise me what they are. If I do think of further relevant issues, I will add them to this request no later than the end of play today.

You can either supply the information today, or press ahead with this internal review and report back to me.

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

Yours faithfully,

Suzanne Kelly

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Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

2 Attachments

 

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

Thank you for your request for a review dated 19 September 2019 and for
providing feedback about the way in which your request was handled.  I am
sorry that on this occasion we have not delivered a positive customer
experience.

 

Under Freedom of Information legislation, applicants can only have one
review before approaching the Information Commissioners Office. This
review can either be based on lateness or content but essentially you only
get one opportunity to review.  You therefore may wish to withhold your
review based on lateness at present, and to use the review opportunity to
challenge the response if you are dissatisfied with this.

 

In the meantime, please find below a response to your points raised;

 

1.  The scheduled date for our response to your request for information is
on or before 25 June 2019 - which has been failed badly, despite your
assurances the information was being sourced and would be with me shortly,
nothing has been forthcoming.

 

I sincerely apologise for the delay in providing you a response to your
request which was due on 25th June 2019.  Unfortunately, it has taken the
responding service longer to respond than anticipated and I acknowledge
that this is an unacceptable length of time for your request to be
outstanding.  This matter has been raised with the appropriate service
manager and I will contact you next week with a revised timescale for
response.

 

In the meantime, I acknowledge that you have had a considerable wait for
the response and as we are in a position to provide a response to question
(e), this is now detailed below:

 

e.  advise whether or not Aberdeen City Council personnel, elected
officials, staff have accepted any discounts, hospitality, gifts, favours
from Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its companies for the period 1 January 2017
through the present day - this to include officers and the Chief
Executive.

 

A search of our gift and hospitality register and consultation with chief
officers and the Chief Executive have confirmed that no personnel have
staff have accepted any discounts, hospitality, gifts, favours from
Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its companies for the period 1 January 2017
through the present day.

We handled your request for information in accordance with the provisions
of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Please refer to the
attached PDF for more information about your rights under FOISA.

 

2.  ACC asked me to 'clarify' d) of my request which was:  "d. minutes of
any committee meeting at which this subject and rental rate was mentioned
that are not in the public domain; in any event supply all correspondence
between Aberdeen Journals Ltd companies (known commonly as Evening Express
and Press & Journal and any AJL entities) for the period 1 January 2017
through the present day - to include invoices, agreements, memos, formal
legal documents, emails, letters, memos, phone call records;"

 

You wrote:  "Could you please clarify if you are looking for the
correspondence held by the whole Council or the ones within a particular
Service ? Could you please provide more explanation ?"

 

Your review must cover what precisely in d) needed clarification or
explanation - it is a completely clear, detailed request.  You must also
explain to me why you felt it necessary to ask for an explanation "looking
for the correspondence held by the whole Council or the ones within a
particular Service ?" :  explaining why you thought I meant a particular
service or services, and why I would want to limit my request to a
particular service or services.  Please also address my previously-stated
concern that this question of whether I meant a service or the whole
council is a stalling technique, which looking at the time this request
has taken and the sensitivity of the material I want - which is in the
public interest to have - was not disclosed.  I repeat my reply to this
curious clarification request, and want you to address it as part of your
detailed review and response:  "The remit - renting/giving space to AJL
companies must be narrow enough for the search to be done."

 

The responding service requested clarification as they believed that in
order to interrogate all the correspondence held for the whole council,
the costs to process the request would be in excess of £600 and if so it
would not be possible to release the information under Section 12 -
Excessive Cost of Compliance - of the FOISA. In such circumstances, it is
current practice to ask the requester to specify what information is
required to allow the request to be narrowed if need be.  I am sorry that
this was not explained to you at the time and for this I apologise. I
would like to reassure you that this was not an attempt to "stall", but a
failure on our part to explain to you why we were asking for the
information.

 

It may still be the case that when you receive your response, that the
information has not been provided under this exemption. I'll be happy to
discuss this with you further if this is the case.

 

3.  What is the 'relevant service' that is unable to supply the
information requested?  As per your 3 July response to me and later
responses to me, you talk of a 'relevant service' without ever identifying
the service/department by name:  why is that?  Finance for one will have,
electronically and easily-accessible, information on detailed 
invoices/bills sent to AJL for the property in question:  I consider that
responding to my request, at least for the financial side, could have been
done within a week and that's being generous.   Please advise the name of
the service that has kept us waiting all these months to supply the
information?  This is to be part of your review and response.

 

Asset Management is the service that holds the information that you have
requested and are the responding service on that we are awaiting a
response from.

 

4.  For the record, I referred in my FOI to the previous Information
Commissioner's decision to release information you held on Stewart
Milne/his companies in which the IC's office found that once a contract
involving public money was in place, it was no longer a sensitive
commercial matter, but something the public should have access to, as
public money was involved.  This applies here as well obviously; your
review should tell me whether or not you debated not honouring my request,
and if so, on what grounds you planned not to honour my request. 

 

All FOI requests are considered as individual cases. Where services feel
that information is commercially sensitive, they are asked to explain why
as part of their response. If you are dissatisfied with decision made, you
will have the opportunity to review this.

 

5.  As part of our correspondence, I remind you that Cllr William Young
has repeatedly stated AJL is paying a fair commercial rate for the
property and that the information should be available very quickly as to
what the amount is:  Your review and response to me should explain how an
elected member of your council's position about the rate AJL pays and the
speed of which the information should have been available differs so very
greatly from your failure to provide it.

 

All requests for information have to be considered in line with Freedom of
Information legislation. We appreciate that there has been a delay in
responding to your request. Please note that Mr Young has not been an
elected member for Aberdeen City Council since May 2017.

 

6.  At no point did the city offer to give me a portion of the information
- you could always have offered to give me the figures requested swiftly,
and could have asked for my patience while you gathered the requested
correspondence - even if given the narrow topic of such correspondence it
should not have been as time consuming as it proved for you to provide.  I
consider it a failure of the FOI team not to have made such an offer to
me, and this should be addressed in your review and explained to me.

 

In relation to your point above, I agree that a partial response of the
information we already had collated and approved could have been released
to you. As such, I have provided the response to question (e) above.

 

I'm happy to answer any further queries you may have - but cannot answer
any further questions about the content of the response as this has not
yet been finalised.

 

Kind Regards

 

Claire Barranger-Clark

 

 

[1]ACC_Crest_for Claire Barranger-Clark | Senior Access to Information
mac email Officer

Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College |Business Hub 6,  1^st Floor| Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522166

[2]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Visible links
2. http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

Thank you for your clarified information request of 10 June 2019 and
please accept our apologies for delay in providing the response to you. 
Aberdeen City Council (ACC) has completed the necessary search for the
information requested. Our response is now detailed below.

 

I note you have refused to answer recent FOI requests concerning what
rent, if any Aberdeen Journals Ltd (Press & Journal, Evening Express) are
paying for premises in Marischal College, who approved any such deal(s),
how long any free rent period lasts, commercial value of any rent,
consideration, loan etc made by the council to AJL and its companies. 

 1. Market value per square metre of office space in Marischal Square (for
convenience Marischal Square = the new build across the road from the
city's Marischal College office where the Press & Journal and Evening
Express are operating from).

The market value per square metre of office space is part of the
negotiations regarding the commercial deals for letting space at Marischal
Square between the Council, Muse and the occupiers, which are commercially
sensitive, therefore, ACC is unable to provide you the required details as
it is exempt from disclosure. In order to comply with its obligations
under the terms of Section 16 of the FOISA, ACC hereby gives notice that
we are refusing your request under the terms of Section 33(1)(b) –
Commercial Interests - of the FOISA.

 

Do commercial interests exist in relation to the information?

ACC considers that commercial interests exist because it comprises
information in regards to a third party commercial deals. This information
is not publicly available as it is information which would normally only
be known by the contracting parties and their advisors.

 

Please describe how disclosure of the requested information would cause
the level of harm required for this exemption?

The release of this information could have a significant detrimental
effect on the Council’s negotiating position for future transactions as
Marischal Square. The details could be used by the applicant to have an
unfair competitive advantage over other parties looking to let space in
Marischal Square. ACC considers that, were we to release this information,
we would prejudice our commercial relationship with them who did not agree
for their information to be made public.

 

What are the public interest arguments?

The public must be reassured that public bodies are spending taxpayers’
money wisely. In particular, the public has the right to know how much
money is being contributed, and the nature of the additional services.

 

However, ACC is of the view that in this case, the public interest lies in
withholding the information as disclosure would prejudice ACC’s commercial
relationships and future contractual negotiations with Marischal Square
occupiers and after considering all the circumstances of the case, the
public interest is best met by applying Section 33(1)(b).

 

 2. The amount the Press & Journal is paying per square metre

The headline rent paid per square metre paid by AJL at Marischal Square is
£322.92.

 

 3. If that amount is less than the market value, then supply all
correspondence concerning how the lower rate was arrived at

We are unable to respond to this question as the response to question 1 is
 withheld under Section 33(1)(b) – Commercial Interests - of the FOISA.

 

 4. Minutes of any committee meeting at which this subject and rental rate
was mentioned that are not in the public domain; in any event supply
all correspondence between Aberdeen Journals Ltd companies (known
commonly as Evening Express and Press & Journal and any AJL entities)
for the period 1 January 2017 through the present day - to include
invoices, agreements, memos, formal legal documents, emails, letters,
memos, phone call records

Clarified as: I clearly mean the whole council. The remit - renting/giving
space to AJL companies must be narrow enough for the search to be done.

Marischal Square electronic case file has 169 folders and within that 1497
files. A high level review of each file would be required to remove all
files prior to January 2017 and then a review to only collate files that
refer to AJL companies. Thereafter each file which relates to AJL
companies would have to be reviewed in detail and all appropriate
redaction completed. In addition to the electronic file the paper case
file for the property would require reviewed to establish if there is any
of the documents contained within it along with a review of the email
files from all officers of the Council involved in the process.

 

ACC is unable to provide you with all correspondence between Aberdeen
Journals Ltd companies, as the cost of providing it has been calculated as
being in excess of the statutory maximum (£600).  The cost has been
calculated as follows:

 

Calculation of time:

High level review of Marischal Square electronic case file – 1497 files @
2 minute each =  2994 minutes

Detailed review of every file containing AJL companies – circa 50 files @
15 minutes each = 750 minutes

Review of paper case file – 120 minutes

Review of Council staff emails (2 staff) – 120 minutes

Review of non-Corporate Landlord file systems – 120 minutes

 

Total estimated time 4,104 minutes equals 68.4 hours @ £15/hour equals
£1026 estimate costs.

 

Please note that this is restricted to Marischal Square which is the
assumed request, if it applies to the renting of any property asset then
the cost would be increased significantly as all 738 property case files
would have to be reviewed to ensure we had established that we have picked
up every AJL company in occupation of a Council asset.

 

In order to comply with its obligations under the terms of Section 16 of
the FOISA, ACC hereby give notice that we are refusing your request under
the terms of Section 12 - Excessive Cost of Compliance - of the FOISA.

               

 5. Advise whether or not Aberdeen City Council personnel, elected
officials, staff have accepted any discounts, hospitality, gifts,
favours from Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its companies for the period 1
January 2017 through the present day - this to include officers and
the Chief Executive.

Aberdeen City Council personnel, Chief Executive, Elected Officials and
staff have NOT accepted any discounts, hospitality, gifts, favours from
Aberdeen Journals Ltd and its companies for the period 1 January 2017
through the present day.

 

 

INFORMATION ABOUT THE HANDLING OF YOUR REQUEST

 

ACC handled your request for information in accordance with the provisions
of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Please refer to the
attached PDF for more information about your rights under FOISA.

 

We hope this helps with your request.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

[1]ACC_Crest_for Tomina Egbuson | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College |Business Hub 17,  3^rd Floor | Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522166

[2]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
from viruses, we cannot be responsible for any viruses transmitted with
this email and recommend that you subject any incoming email to your own
virus checking procedures. Unless related to Council business, the
opinions expressed in this email are those of the sender and they do not
necessarily constitute those of Aberdeen City Council. Unless we expressly
say otherwise in this email or its attachments, neither this email nor its
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to regular monitoring.

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Dear Aberdeen City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Aberdeen City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Aberdeen City's relationship with Aberdeen Journals Ltd'. Your last-minute refusal to supply data and your costing schedule are unacceptable.
Earlier correspondence details a numbered list of issues your review, which I now formally request be held, should cover. In addition I want the review to cover:

I. why it took so long to reply with virtually no data and so much data refused when earlier indications from ACC was that data was coming;

II Your reliance on commercial sensitivity where public money is concerned I reject, it seems likely the public is not getting value for money or transparency of how its funds are used or revenue it should have is not being maximised in this case;

III you made no attempt until now to say the search is too expensive to undertake- I utterly reject the finding and your costings. Explain. You know easily and electronically-accessibly how much AJL pays for the space be it paid annually, quarterly or monthly. I woukd also remind you again of earlier Information Commission decision re Stewart Milne in my favour that in part said the public have right to financial data on concluded contracts involving public funds. The council was found years back to be failing the taxpayers over real estate dealings and your review should cover who decided and how to respond to me as you did.

IV after all these months and asking previously only for me to specify which services/depts should supply data (a frivolous request to me imo) are you now in this refusal saying (which I reject given the specific nature of subject matter and limited time frame) that it is too large/too expensive to answer: you should have indicated this months ago AND asked me to narrow scope with your help: you failed utterly. I contest that you cannot easily locate electronically the related data and correspondence for this comparatively narrow topic of a fairly new lease.

Hold your internal review and revert as soon as you can. These are serious breaches of law imo.

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

Yours faithfully,

Suzanne Kelly

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Kelly,

Thank you for your request for a review, received on 20 September 2019, to
reconsider the information request FOI-19-0730 - Marischal Square on the
basis that you are not satisfied with the content of the response from
Aberdeen City Council (ACC) and the length of time to provide a response.
Under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), if an
applicant writes to ACC expressing dissatisfaction with the way in which
ACC has dealt with their request (this includes enquiring about the status
of a late response), ACC must treat this as a formal request for review.
The applicant does not need to specifically ask for a review.

In accordance with the timescales set out in FOISA, you should receive a
review outcome on or before 18 October 2019. If a response to your
information request is provided on or before that date, this will be
deemed to be the review outcome. If ACC fails to provide you with a
response by that date, you can apply to the Office of the Scottish
Information Commissioner (OSIC) to make a decision. Please refer to the
Further Information section below.

I would also take this opportunity to advise you that you will have no
further opportunities to seek a review at local authority level after your
response has been provided, as FOISA allows applicants to have one review
only. If you receive your response and disagree with any aspect of it, you
should contact OSIC directly.

Yours sincerely,

Jennifer McDonald
On behalf of Review Panel Clerk

 

FURTHER INFORMATION

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your request for an internal
review, you can apply directly to the Office of the Scottish Information
Commissioner (OSIC) for a decision. Generally, OSIC cannot make a decision
unless you have been through the ACC’s review procedure. To make an
application to OSIC, please write or email OSIC at:

The Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner
Kinburn Castle
Doubledykes Road
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9DS
[1]www.itspublicknowledge.info

An application to OSIC must be made in writing within six months of
receipt of ACC’s Review Decision Notice. When applying to OSIC for a
decision you should give your name and address for correspondence. Please
note that OSIC will not be able to investigate if you have not used your
real name to make your information request. You must also specify:

You must also specify:

● which request for information your requirement for review relates to
● the reason that you asked ACC to carry out a review of your request
● the reason why you are not satisfied with ACC's review outcome decision

The Commissioner will contact ACC and invite its comments on your
application. Thereafter (if no settlement has meantime been reached), the
Commissioner must reach a decision within 4 months of receiving your
application, or within such other period as is reasonable. You will
receive written notice of the outcome of the Commissioner’s decision.

Should you wish to appeal against the Scottish Information Commissioner's
decision, there is an appeal to the Court of Session on a point of law
only. Any such appeal must be made within 42 days after the date of the
decision has been issued.

 

 

[2]ACC_Crest_for Jennifer McDonald | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College |Business Hub 6,  1^st Floor| Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AQ

 

Dial: 01224 522697

[3]www.aberdeencity.gov.uk | Twitter: @AberdeenCC |
Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
from viruses, we cannot be responsible for any viruses transmitted with
this email and recommend that you subject any incoming email to your own
virus checking procedures. Unless related to Council business, the
opinions expressed in this email are those of the sender and they do not
necessarily constitute those of Aberdeen City Council. Unless we expressly
say otherwise in this email or its attachments, neither this email nor its
attachments create, form part of or vary any contractual or unilateral
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References

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Dear Foi Enquiries,

I object to the wording you just used in replying to me: you wrote that my request for a review was based on the lateness of the reply: In the correspondence above I listed considerably more grounds for the review. I wish to now add two further points your review must cover along with the points listed previouisly which you ignored in replying to me:

ADDITIONAL POINT FOR INTERNAL REVIEW 1 Your response indicated to me that absolutely no ACC personnel took any form of gift of hospitality whatsoever from AJL from 1 January 2017 to the present day: I find this almost impossible to believe both in terms that you checked all hospitality declarations for the time period - and in doing so you did not find so much as a single newspaper or coffee, meal, tickets to an event coming from AJL to anyone at ACC: explain findings and how research done.

ADDITIONAL POINT FOR INTERNAL REVIEW 2 I asked for information on what the market rate was and how it was used in calculating the rate arrived at: surely there must be paperwork and data showing how the £322 was arrived at.

ADDITIONAL POINT FOR INTERNAL REVIEW 3. You are now representing that £322 is what AJL pays per square metre - which you describe as a 'headline rent'. This by definition means that a different rent had been paid at some point in time. The definition for headline rent: "A headline rent is the rent paid under a lease after the end of any rent free or reduced rent periods. It is an artificially inflated rent which ignores the rent free period or any other concessions given by the landlord to the tenant in return for a higher headline rate." When I asked you how much AJL was paying in rent, I consider it disingenuous of you to supply the headline rent and omit any previously-paid rent, which is clearly 100% relevant to my question.

I insist you add these 3 items to your review - as you only responded to me today and cannot have held such review yet, there is time for them to be added. I believe in my earlier message asking for a review I reserved the right to add further points. You have time to add them before the review; please ensure you do.

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Kelly

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

Dear Ms Kelly

We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail and all your points will be considered at the review.

Yours sincerely

Jennifer McDonald
On behalf of Review Panel Clerk

show quoted sections

Martyn Orchard, Aberdeen City Council

1 Attachment

Link: [1]File-List

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

Thank you for your request for a review which was received on 20 September
2019. The Review Panel met on 4 October and considered the matter again
subsequently - please find attached the decision notice.

 

In terms of Section 15 - Duty to provide advice and assistance - of the
FOISA, the following information is also provided on behalf of the Access
to Information Team.

 

Failure to respond in time

 

We sincerely apologise for there being a delay in providing you with a
response to your request which was due on 25 June 2019. It is acknowledged
that this is an unacceptable length of time for your request to be
outstanding. This matter has been raised with staff involved in handling
your request to identify the reasons for the delay and how we can improve
this.

 

Failure to explain that the request may be excessive

 

The responding service requested clarification as they believed that in
order to interrogate all of the correspondence held for the whole Council,
the costs to process the request would be in excess of £600 and if so it
would not be possible to release the information under Section 12 -
Excessive Cost of Compliance - of the FOISA. In such circumstances, it is
current practice to ask the requester to specify what information is
required to allow the request to be narrowed if need be and explain the
reason behind this. This would allow the applicant to review their
request.

 

It is acknowledged that you were not given due advice and assistance as we
failed to inform you that your request may be excessive and why we were
asking you to narrow your search. We apologise for this error and would
like to reassure you that this area of our practice has been reviewed.
However, it is important to highlight that if any information was
provided, following a narrowed search, there is a possibility that such
information would be heavily redacted in terms of Section 33(1)(b) -
Commercial Interests - of the FOISA.

 

Information regarding Gifts and Hospitality

 

With reference to the final part of your request for information, Chief
Officers are required to hold a Register for Gifts and Hospitality within
their service in accordance with the Council’s Financial Regulations. All
staff have a responsibility to declare any gifts presented to them. All
gifts, whether accepted or not, that are not considered to be
insignificant or that cannot be considered reasonable hospitality received
directly in connection with any meeting, function or conference must be
recorded in the appropriate Register for Gifts and Hospitality. Gifts that
are considered insignificant may be excluded from the Register if they
have a monetary value of £50.00 or less. In terms of elected members, the
Councillors’ Code of Conduct
([2]https://www.standardscommissionscotland....)
deals with Gifts and Hospitality, mainly within Sections 3 and 4, where
you will also find that the £50.00 threshold is applied.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

Martyn Orchard

Acting Clerk to the FOI Review Panel

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This e-mail (including any attachment to it) is
confidential, protected by copyright and may be privileged. The
information contained in it should be used for its intended purposes only.
If you receive this email in error, notify the sender by reply email,
delete the received email and do not make use of, disclose or copy it.
Whilst we take reasonable precautions to ensure that our emails are free
from viruses, we cannot be responsible for any viruses transmitted with
this email and recommend that you subject any incoming email to your own
virus checking procedures. Unless related to Council business, the
opinions expressed in this email are those of the sender and they do not
necessarily constitute those of Aberdeen City Council. Unless we expressly
say otherwise in this email or its attachments, neither this email nor its
attachments create, form part of or vary any contractual or unilateral
obligation. Aberdeen City Council's incoming and outgoing email is subject
to regular monitoring.

References

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1. file:///tmp/cid:filelist.xml@01D58594.8EBC0B40
2. https://www.standardscommissionscotland....

Dear Martyn Orchard,

Thank you for your latest document. I will be taking this to the information commissioner.

I am not satisfied with the city's:

lateness of response and review's addressing of this by an apology;

lack of help narrowing down my request: -
- it never explained why it was asking if I was interested in certain departments only as the means of narrowing the search, especially as:
- the time frame was already quite narrow I believe - correspondence between the city and Aberdeen Journals Ltd concerning the clearly-stated overarching topic of Marischal Square. I know you keep electronic records of invoicing: you did not supply the results of searching these records for the time period - which could not have taken very much time or effort (unless you have many real estate deals with AJL re. Marischal) - you should have supplied all invoices AND I ASK THAT YOU DO SO NOW WITHOUT ANY FURTHER TACTICS WHICH I CAN ONLY SEE AS DELAYING BY MEANS OF DISINGENUOUS SOPHISTRY. The city also stores emails electronically, and a search of the few people in contact with AJL over this transaction and rent could not have taken a lot of time or cost $600;
failure even now to make any attempt at assisting me in obtaining the information you hold: where is your offer to, for example, send me the invoices relevant to the request, narrow the time band if need there genuinely be, or to send me any of the information that your electronic systems could easily and swiftly return. Searching MS Office takes moments: this could have been done. You also store outgoing correspondence electronically. If there is a paper file on Marischal College - and I know there will be one from my previous visits to your Finance department, you could easily have copied its contents and sent that to me as a start.

Failure to send a breakdown of this £600 fee, which by now i know to be customary

When you did finally supply a rental figure, it did not cover the entire period of my request, it is the rent that AJL is now paying after a period of having had some form of lower rent or other incentive.

I consider how this entire request was handled to be with a strategy on the part of the city not to give the requested information. I look forward to swift comment on this so I may pass it to the Information Commissioner to review the entire situation.

Yours sincerely,

Suzanne Kelly

Martyn Orchard, Aberdeen City Council

Dear Ms Kelly,

I feel it is best that you go straight to the Information Commissioner as that is your next level of appeal; the FOI Review Panel has made its decision.

Regards,

Martyn

show quoted sections

Foi Enquiries, Aberdeen City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Kelly,

 

In relation to your recent appeal to the Information Commissioner;

 

We have decided to release confirmation of whether the amount that the
Aberdeen Journals Limited is paying per square meter is less, equal to or
more than the market value. At the time of Aberdeen Journals Limited
signing the lease for office space at Marischal Square – the terms and
conditions of their agreement were commercially sensitive.

 

However, with the passing of time this information is no longer as
commercially sensitive as it was when we received the request. The
Aberdeen property market has changed since the transaction was completed
and the previous FOI request was made.

 

We can confirm that Aberdeen Journals Limited is currently paying the
market value rate of £30 per square foot. At the time of Aberdeen Journals
Limited signing the lease for office space at Marischal Square –and at the
time when the request was made - the terms and conditions of their
agreement included a rent free period. This ended in March 2020. This rent
free period would be an incentive available to any potential renter at the
time of the lease being take out. This would be a standard clause and the
rent free period would be decided as appropriate depending on the
financial health of the local property market at that time. For clarity
the transaction entered into in relation to the lease of space to Aberdeen
Journals Limited was considered to be on market transaction terms.

 

As technically, Aberdeen Journals Limited were paying no rent at the time
of the request, we will be providing the following documentation. Please
see attached the Head of Terms. As the rent-free period was one of the
incentives offered to all prospective customers at the time, there is no
further correspondence relating to how the lower rate was decided. We
asked the relevant service to undertake a search of their records and they
confirmed that, as the rent-free period was a standard incentive offered
to all prospective customers, and Aberdeen Journals are currently paying
the market value rate of £30 per square foot, then there is no
correspondence held that relates to how a lower rate was decided.

 

Please note that third party names and personal details, as well as the
names of ACC Officers who are below Chief Officer level have been redacted
from the attached document. This is because ACC considers that this
information is exempt from disclosure. In order to comply with our
obligations under the terms of Section 16 of the FOISA, we hereby give
notice that we are refusing your request under the terms of Section
38(1)(b) in conjunction with Section 38(2)(A)(a) – Personal Information  -
of the FOISA.

 

In making this decision ACC considered the following points:

 

We are of the opinion that Section 38(1)(b) applies to the information
specified above as the information in question is personal information
relating to living individuals, of which the applicant is not the data
subject.

 

We are of the opinion that Section 38(2A)(a) applies, as we consider that
disclosure of this information would be a breach of the ‘lawfulness,
fairness and transparency’ principle. These individuals have not consented
to the disclosure of their information, and we do not consider that they
would expect us to release this information about them into the public
domain under the FOISA.

 

Kind regards,

 

Grant Webster

Access to Information Officer

 

 

 

[1]ACC_Crest_for Grant Webster | Access to Information Officer
mac email
Aberdeen City Council | Access to Information Team |
Customer Feedback |Customer

Marischal College | Business Hub 6 | 1^st Floor  | Broad
Street | Aberdeen | AB10 1AB

 

Dial: 01224 522166

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Facebook.com/AberdeenCC

 

 

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