Advice from consultants on signing deal for E&C redevelopment

A Glasspool made this Freedom of Information request to Southwark Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Southwark Borough Council.

Dear Southwark Borough Council,

Prior to signing the Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease for the redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle in July 2010, Southwark took advice on this agreement from Herbert Smith consultants:

http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/new...

Please provide me with a copy of this advice and any documents relating to this advice given to the council by Herbert Smith.

Yours faithfully,

A Glasspool

Regeneration, Southwark Borough Council

Southwark Council - Information request

Our reference: 292285

show quoted sections

Plewniak, Martyna , Southwark Borough Council

Dear Mr Glasspool,

Request for information: 292285

Thank you for your request for information that was received on 29 April
2013 in which you requested:

Prior to signing the Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease for the
redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle in July 2010, Southwark took advice
on this agreement from Herbert Smith consultants:

[1]http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/new...

    
Please provide me with a copy of this advice and any documents relating to
this advice given to the council by Herbert Smith.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’) obliges us to respond to
requests promptly and in any case no later than 20 working days after
receiving your request. 

However, when a qualified exemption applies to the information and the
public interest test is engaged, the Act allows the time for response to
be longer than 20 working days, and a full response must be provided
within such time as is reasonable in all circumstances of the case.  We
do, of course, aim to make all decisions within 20 working days, including
in cases where we need to consider where the public interest lies in
respect of a request for exempt information.  In this case, however, we
have not yet reached a decision on where the balance of the public
interest lies.

The specific exemption which applies in relation to your request is
Section 42 of the Act – Legal Professional Privilege.

We estimate that it will take an additional 10 working days to reach a
decision on where the balance of the public interest lies.  Therefore, we
will provide a response no later than 12 June 2013.  If it appears that it
will take longer than this to reach a conclusion, we will keep you
informed.

I apologise for the delay which has arisen and for any inconvenience it
might have caused.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact us using the above
details
Further information on the Freedom of Information Act is available through
the Information Commissioner at the:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire.  SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
Internet: [2]www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely,

Martyna Plewniak
System information project officer

The email you received and any files transmitted with it are confidential,
may be covered by legal and/or professional privilege and are intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
If you have received this in error please notify us immediately. If you
are not the intended recipient of the email or the person responsible for
delivering it to them you may not copy it, forward it or otherwise use it
for any purpose or disclose its contents to any other person. To do so may
be unlawful. Where opinions are expressed in the email they are not
necessarily those of Southwark Council and Southwark Council is not
responsible for any changes made to the message after it has been sent.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/new...
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Plewniak, Martyna, Southwark Borough Council

Dear Mr Glasspool,
Re: Your request for information: 292285
Thank you for your request for information that was received on 28 April
2013 in which you requested:
Prior to signing the Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease for the
redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle in July 2010, Southwark took advice
on this agreement from Herbert Smith consultants:

[1]http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/new...

Please provide me with a copy of this advice and any documents relating to
this advice given to the council by Herbert Smith.

Please accept our sincere apology for the delay that accrued in responding
to your request.
Having considered your request, as well as consulting Herbert Smith who
were our legal advisers, the council regrets to inform you that the
information you requested is being withheld under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. The exemption that applies to this information is:
Section 42 – Legal Professional Privilege.

Reliance upon this exemption under FOI is subject to the requirement under
Section 2 (2) (b) that the public interest in maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

In this instance, the council asserts that the public interest in
providing this information does not out weigh the likely prejudice to the
council’s legal interests.

In arriving at this view, the council has considered the following factors
both for and against the release of information.

Factors in favour of release:
· Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act confers a presumption in
favour of disclosure
· The specific request is in relation to a large scale regeneration scheme
covering a large area of the borough and affecting many residents as a
result. The sheer scale of the plans carries with it an inherent amount of
public interest

Factors in favour of withholding:
· The fact that this advice was procured by the council and provided to
the council under the presumption of legal professional privilege

· The fact that the council has a right to seek independent legal opinion
free from external prejudice
· The fact the council has the right to a free and frank exchange of ideas
in relation to this advice
· The fact the Regeneration Agreement is ongoing and therefore the advice
is still ‘live’ .
It is the council’s assertion that the factors in favour of withholding
this legally privileged information outweigh the factors in favour of
release and therefore, in accordance with Section 17 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make an appeal for a review of our decision, please
write to the:

Corporate Freedom of Information Manager
The Governance Team (2^nd Floor)
PO BOX 64529
London
SE1P 5LX
Email: [2][Southwark Borough Council request email]
If you are not content with the outcome of your appeal, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
Information Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have first
exhausted our internal appeal procedure and you should contact him within
2 months of the outcome of your internal appeal.

Further information on the Freedom of Information Act is available through
the Information Commissioner at the:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Internet: [3]www.ico.org.uk
Yours sincerely,

Martyna Plewniak
System information project officer

The email you received and any files transmitted with it are confidential,
may be covered by legal and/or professional privilege and are intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
If you have received this in error please notify us immediately. If you
are not the intended recipient of the email or the person responsible for
delivering it to them you may not copy it, forward it or otherwise use it
for any purpose or disclose its contents to any other person. To do so may
be unlawful. Where opinions are expressed in the email they are not
necessarily those of Southwark Council and Southwark Council is not
responsible for any changes made to the message after it has been sent.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/new...
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Dear Southwark Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Southwark Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Advice from consultants on signing deal for E&C redevelopment'.

In light of the Information Commissioner's recent decision concerning my related FOI request for the Heygate masterplan financial viability assessment(ref: 12/AP/1092), I am requesting that the above FOI request is subjected to an internal review.

As the Information Commissioner states in his report, this regeneration scheme is the "biggest in Western Europe", and "the council must have been aware that such a vast scheme, with the attendant repercussions for the local community would attract public interest and would be subject to enhanced levels of scrutiny."(para. 69)

The Commissioner goes on to highlight a number of issues in relation to the regeneration scheme and the need for greater transparency, because of "publically reported concerns that the council might not have achieved the best value for public resources in the disposal of its land to Lend Lease." (para. 71)

The Commissioner points out the "concerns about the relationship between the council and Lend Lease."(para. 106)
Whilst the Commissioner does not endorse the veracity of these concerns, he "considers that the reputation of public institutions and their legitimacy and effectiveness in carrying out their role can be damaged by public perceptions."

The commissioner concludes "As it is not in the public interest for public authorities’ actions to be perceived or potentially constrained by such perceptions, disclosure would provide reassurance about the council’s conduct and would serve the interest in transparency and accountability."

We feel the commissioner's conclusions regarding the viability assessment, apply equally to the information requested concerning the advice Southwark took on signing the Regeneration Agreement with Lend Lease.

Furthermore, we are losing our homes to facilitate this regeneration, so we feel that it is only right to ensure that the public benefits of the scheme outweigh the loss we will suffer as a result.

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,

A Glasspool
Heygate Leaseholders Group

Regeneration, Southwark Borough Council

Southwark Council - Information request

Our reference: 292285

show quoted sections

Crisp, Tom, Southwark Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Glasspool,

Please see attached letter containing my decision following my review of
the Council's response to your 27 April information request.

<<20130820 Glasspool review decision letter.pdf>>
Yours faithfully

Tom Crisp
Assistant Lawyer - Governance,
Finance and Corporate Services
London Borough of Southwark
PO Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX
(160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH)
DX: 136147 London Bridge 7

Tel: 020 7525 5113         Ext: 55113
Fax: 020 3357 3220        Blackberry: 07944 872394

The email you received and any files transmitted with it are confidential,
may be covered by legal and/or professional privilege and are intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
If you have received this in error please notify us immediately. If you
are not the intended recipient of the email or the person responsible for
delivering it to them you may not copy it, forward it or otherwise use it
for any purpose or disclose its contents to any other person. To do so may
be unlawful. Where opinions are expressed in the email they are not
necessarily those of Southwark Council and Southwark Council is not
responsible for any changes made to the message after it has been sent.