Complete Non-Residential / Business Property Rates Data (Q2 2019)

The request was successful.

Dear St Albans District Council,

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

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

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

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

I last requested this data three months ago, and this is a request for an updated and current dataset.

I'm sure you get many requests for business rates and responding and managing these FOIs must be costly for you. Could I request that - as 71% of local authorities now do - you update and release this dataset via a dedicated page on your local authority website or on an open data service. I can recommend approaches for you to consider, and you should find that this reduces the time and cost of this request process.

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Chait

Gemma Kaur-Brown, St Albans District Council

CORPORATE SERVICES
Head of Service - Simonne De Vall
 
Our Ref: 000003466
Please ask for: FOI Coordinator
Direct Dial:  (01727) 819209
e-mail address: [St Albans District Council request email]
Date:  3rd July 2019

 
 
Dear Mr Chait
 
Freedom of Information Request - acknowledgement
Reference:000003466
 
I write with regard to your request for information to St Albans City &
District Council. Your email was received by the Council on 3rd July 2019.
 
Under Section 10(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we are
required to respond no later than 20 working days after the date we
receive your request.
This means that you should have a response by the 31st July 2019 . 
 
However, if we feel that we require further information to fulfill your
request we will write to inform you within the twenty day period [section
1(3)].
 
If the Council considers that we require further time to respond then we
will write to you informing you of the estimated date of response [section
10 (3)].
 
If we consider that complying with the request will exceed the cost limit
then we will write to tell you within 20 working days.
 
Kind Regards
 
 
 
FOI Coordinator
Corporate Services
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Privacy Notice for Freedom of Information (FOI)/Environmental Information
(EIR) Processes
This privacy notice explains how St Albans City & District Council (the
Data Controller) will use any personal information we collect about you
when you use our services.
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The information that the Council will collect varies depending on how you
use the Council’s Services. We are using the information provided in this
case because we have a legal obligation (Art. 6(1)(c)).  This means we
collect your personal information from you so that we can carry out a
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We will destroy this personal information 7 years after we have closed the
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information, please contact [1][St Albans District Council request email] and ask for a subject
access request.
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contact us to ask for this information to be corrected.  We will consider
your request and respond within one month.  Please contact
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[3]http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/council-and-d...
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Our Data Protection Officer for the purposes of Articles 37 to 39 of the
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calling 01727 819209 for our Complaints Team.
 
 
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Please contact us if you have any questions about our Data Protection
Policy, or concerns about how we handle your information: by emailing
[6][St Albans District Council request email] or write to us at: FOI Team, St Albans City &
District Council, St Peter’s Street, St Albans, AL1 3JE. 
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You have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner if you are
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GDPR Privacy Notice – FOI and EIR Art 6(1)(c) Legal Obligation 02.5.18
 
 
 
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Julie Young, St Albans District Council

CORPORATE SERVICES
Head of Service - Simonne De Vall
 
Our Ref: 000003466
Please ask for: FOI Coordinator
Direct Dial:  (01727) 819209
e-mail address: [St Albans District Council request email]
Date:  26th July 2019

 
 
Dear Mr Chait
 
Freedom of Information Request Ref. No. 000003466
 
I write with regard to your request for information sent by email to St
Albans City & District Council.  Your email was received by the Council on
3rd July 2019
 
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we are required to confirm what
information we hold, and if we do hold the information, disclose the
information, subject to exemptions or other provisions applying.
 
You requested:
 
In terms of the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, and subject to section
40(2) on personal data, could you please provide me with a complete and
up-to-date list of all business (non-residential) property rates data for
your local authority, and including the following fields:

- Billing Authority Property Reference Code (linking the property to the
VOA database reference)
- Firm's Trading Name (i.e. property occupant)
- Full Property Address (Number, Street, Postal Code, Town)
- Occupied / Vacant
- Date of Occupation / Vacancy
- Actual annual rates charged (in Pounds)
 
Our response:
 
We can confirm that we do hold this information.
 
All this information can be found on our website by using the following
link;
 
[1]https://www.stalbans.gov.uk/council-and-...
 
 
If you are dissatisfied with this response the Commissioner’s Office
recommends that you first refer the matter to the Council. You can do this
by writing to [2][St Albans District Council request email] asking for an internal review of my
decision. If you wish the Council to undertake an internal review, then
you must write to the Council within 40 working days of the date of this
letter. The Council will not consider any requests received after this
date unless there are exceptional circumstances for the delay. 
 
You have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office at the
following address: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
You must do this no later than two months after the Local Authority’s last
response to you.
 
 
Kind Regards
 
 
FOI Coordinator
Corporate Services
 
 
 
 
****Disclaimer****
The information in this message should be regarded as Private and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated.
If you have received this message in error it must be deleted and the
sender
notified.
The views expressed in this message are personal and not necessarily
those of St Albans City and District Council unless explicitly stated.
Please be aware that emails sent to or received from St Albans City and
District Council may be intercepted and read by the council.
Interception will only occur to ensure compliance with council policies or
procedures or regulatory obligations, to prevent or deter crime, or for
the
purposes of essential maintenance or support of the email system.
Please note that the Council does not accept service by e-mail
The personal information you provide will be held in accordance with the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Council’s Data
Protection Policy.  You can find more information about how we will handle
your personal information in our privacy notice: [3]Privacy Notice

References

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2. mailto:[St Albans District Council request email]
3. http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/Images/Privac...

Dear St Albans District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of St Albans District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Complete Non-Residential / Business Property Rates Data (Q2 2019)'.

On 3 July 2019, I sent an FOI request for a complete and up-to-date list of all business (non-residential) property rates data, and including the following fields:

- Billing Authority Code
- Firm's Trading Name (i.e. property occupant)
- Full Property Address (Number, Street, Postal Code, Town)
- Occupied / Vacant
- Date of Occupation / Vacancy
- Actual annual rates charged (in Pounds)

My request was answered by reference to your website, where you publication is refused in terms of Section 31(1)(a). According to the Information Commissioner's Office, "Section 31 is a prejudice based exemption and is subject to the public interest test. This means that not only does the information have to prejudice one of the purposes listed, but, before the information can be withheld, the public interest in preventing that prejudice must outweigh the public interest in disclosure."

Section 31(1)(a) deals specifically with "the prevention or detection of crime".

You cite EA/2006/0060 & 0066 as grounds for refusal, a decision notice exclusively dealing with residential properties. I have requested commercial data, and ICO has already found repeatedly that such findings are orthogonal.

You have been self-publishing your commercial ratepayer data for years, and it is strange that you now cite a 2006 finding - 13 years old - for refusal. I have prepared my own research into crime in vacant commercial properties by sending FOIs to every police authority in England and Wales. What follows is my submission to ICO and to the Information Tribunal in various cases over the past few years. Apologies if it seems pedantic, but it is critical that we have a common set of probabilistic definitions.

Vacancies form a small proportion of any commercial property base. Vacancy rates vary from as little as 2.6% in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, to 19.4% in the West Midlands.

Assuming that crime is evenly distributed (i.e. that an occupied commercial property is as likely to experience crime as an unoccupied property), for a vacancy rate of 10% you would expect a ratio of 9 crimes in occupied properties for each crime in an unoccupied property (ratio of 9:1).

In a street of 10 commercial properties, if 10 crimes were committed, and every property had an equal chance of being affected, then – all things being equal – each property, vacant or not, would experience one crime. That is the definition of “equal probability”, any property – irrespective of occupation state – is at the same risk.

Therefore, if we know the absolute number of property-related crimes, we can estimate a predicted number of crimes for both occupied and vacant properties. If the real data reveals more crime than predicted we have a positive correlation for increased risk; if the real data reveals the opposite, less crime than predicted, we have a negative correlation for increased risk.

According to UK Crime Stats (https://www.ukcrimestats.com/Police_Forc...) Hertfordshire Police Authority experiences the following level of crime June 2018 to July 2019 relating to Burglary + Criminal damage & arson + Robbery + Shoplifting = 15,982.

The ratio of 10 to 1 implies that, if there were 15,982 commercial property-related crimes, an average of 1,598 of these types of crimes would have been committed in vacant properties between June 2018 and July 2019.

Compare your data, where your vacancies are about 6% on average, and offer some evidence as to why you believe you are experiencing a greater-than-expected level of crime in vacant commercial properties.

It is insufficient to simply produce evidence that crime occurs in vacant properties. It is necessary to produce evidence demonstrating that vacancy property crime occurs at a rate higher than expected. I do not believe that you have done so; or could.

I requested statistics on crimes by vacancy status from Hertfordshire Constabulary in March 2016. These data are not aggregated and they were unable to comply unless I was willing to pay to have them go back through each written crime report and extract that data manually, if it existed at all (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...). If Hertfordshire Constabulary have no data, then St Alban's has no data.

If you have data that supports crime levels in vacant properties significantly in excess of what is expected per year, then we can assess whether or not vacant properties are at greater risk to crime. Note, however, greater risk does not identify the cause of that risk. I imagine that this would be of interest?

When I started my research in early 2016, 70 out of 348 local authorities were already regularly publishing their vacancy data to their open data websites. However, 66 local authorities in England and Wales refused to publish citing the risk of such data being used to commit crime. Their justifications cited previous findings by the Information Tribunal (such as Mr. Yiannis Voyias v the Information Commissioner and Camden EA/2011/0007) to validate their decisions.

They did not conduct their own risk assessments, they simply used Voyias as justification.

During 2016, I sent FOI requests to all police services across England and Wales requesting total number of incidents of criminal activity in empty commercial properties. At the time, I had secured 66% of vacancy data from local authorities through FOI requests, and direct access.

The combination of crime incident data and the list of local authorities would permit easy comparison between areas that regularly disclose and those which choose not to in order to assess whether there is a greater risk as a result of disclosure.

Out of 44 police services, only two were able to provide data on incidents in empty commercial properties. The remaining police services do not specifically collect such data and have no way of knowing what the incident rates are.

The two who have are Thames Valley Police and North Wales Police. If a relevant police authority is advising you on a Section 31(1)(a) exemption, then - unless they are either of these - they do not have data to validate their opinion.

There are about 45,000 commercial properties in North Wales and vacancies are about 8%, leading to an expected crime ratio of 12:1. North Wales Police state that there are an average of 1,780 crimes a year in occupied properties, and 26 crimes a year in unoccupied properties that largely have to do with theft, vandalism or arson (note that squatting in commercial property is not a crime and so unrecorded).

The total of 1,806 implies the expected number of vacant property crime incidents to be 71; 270% higher than the actual 26 recorded.

In other words, there is a large negative correlation between crimes committed in vacant properties relative to what was expected. A vacant property is less likely to experience crime.

This tells us that crime in empty commercial premises is extremely rare, and explains why most police services do not bother routinely aggregating such data.

The data from the Thames Valley police gives us a better idea of the variation between authorities which publish, and those which don’t.

For example, in 2015 Oxford had 4,038 commercial properties and suffered 2 cases of empty commercial property crime at a cost of £1,259. In comparison, they had 3,133 cases of crime committed in occupied business premises, at a cost of £507,956.

By comparison, Reading, with 5,659 commercial properties suffered 2 empty commercial property crimes that caused no damage at all.

Oxford refuses to publish under Section 31(1)(a) while Reading publishes regularly.

In total, across the Thames Valley, for 74,027 properties - of which about 7,000 are empty (9.5%) - only 11 crimes related to empty properties were recorded. Compare that to occupied and actively-traded properties which experienced 29,946 reported crimes.

For an approximate 9:1 vacancy ratio, and 30,000 crimes, you would expect 3,000 vacant property crimes. 11 is a statistical rounding error. Crime in vacant properties is not a meaningful risk.

The Thames Valley data are here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...
And the North Wales Police data are here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

In two distinct parts of the UK, with different approaches to recording crime, empty property crime is extremely rare, and – more importantly for publication considerations – publication of data listing empty properties does not have any impact on the number of incidents of crime.

Some local authorities who claim exemption under Section 31(1)(a) claim to have their own data to validate these claims. I sent FOIs requesting these data to 64 local authorities (including both those who do publish empty property data, and those who do not). Not one has any data - other than very sparse anecdotal data to support their claim.

All the data I collected indicates that there is no substantive basis for concern that publishing a list of empty properties will lead to prejudice under Section 31.

In November 2016, I appealed this class of refusal – using this evidence – to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

My central argument was that, in order to justify a Section 31(1)(a) exemption it is not sufficient simply to claim that crime occurs in empty commercial premises. Neither should anecdotal tales suffice. It is also necessary to provide evidence that publishing a list of empty properties in real, measurable terms increases the expected incidence rate for crime in such properties.

My submissions to ICO resulted in the following findings in my favour:

FS50628943 vs Cornwall Council; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50628978 vs London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50681246 vs London Borough of Camden; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50681250 vs London Borough of Greenwich; citing Section 31(1)(a) and Section 38(1)(b);
FS50681266 vs Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames Borough; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50681283 vs Westminster City Council who cited Section 31(1)(a);
FS50681292 vs London Borough of Wandsworth; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50681297 vs Knowsley Metropolitan Borough; citing Section 31(1)(a), 40(2), and 41;
FS50681322 vs West Berkshire Council; citing Section 31(1)(d);
FS50681326 vs Vale of Glamorgan; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50681332 vs Doncaster Metropolitan Borough; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50681336 vs Sheffield City Council; citing Section 31(1)(a), 31(1)(d), and 41;
FS50685343 vs London Borough of Ealing; citing Section 31(1)(a), 31(1)(d), and 31(2);
FS50685350 vs Liverpool City Council; citing Section 31(1)(a);
FS50685375 vs West Lancashire Borough Council; citing 31(1)(a);

In each of these decisions, the Commissioner either dismissed the application of the exemptions cited, or declared that “the public interest in the information being disclosed outweighs that in the exemption being maintained”.

Any claim in support of Section 31(1)(a) must also consider the public interest in the data requested.

In support of public interest, I offer that 95% of 348 local authorities in England and Wales now publish commercial vacancy data. 71% publish these as regular updates to their authority websites or open data services.

Retail and commercial vacancy, and its impact on commercial rates continue to be of great public interest (cf, as a small example, “City figures warn high street landlords face ‘tsunami’ of pressures” https://www.ft.com/content/fa7c48d0-6993..., “After the retail apocalypse, what next for the high street?” https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018..., “An investigation of the impact of 2017 business rates revaluation on independent high street retailers in the north of England” https://www.emeraldinsight.com/eprint/wT...).

These claims of a ‘retail apocalypse’ are having a very real impact on the capacity for local authorities to collect commercial rates. Most recently, Debenhams – the department store chain – has demanded business rates cuts to support their viability (https://www.ft.com/content/1bcbb9fc-6b3e...). It is critical that researchers have the data to test such claims, both now, and over time, in order to ensure that it is possible to differentiate between poor individual business management, and general economic difficulties.

I ask that you reconsider your refusal, and publish. Failing that, I will refer this matter to ICO for further review.

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

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Chait

Debra Wardena, St Albans District Council

CORPORATE SERVICES
Acting Head of Service - Simonne De Vall
 
Our Ref: 000003591
Please ask for: FOI Coordinator
Direct Dial:  (01727) 819209
e-mail address: [St Albans District Council request email]
Date:  8th August 2019

 
 
Dear Mr Chait
 
Internal Review Request – acknowledgement
Reference:000003591
 
I write with regard to your request for an internal review of the
Council’s response. 
 
Your email was received by the Council on 3rd July /2019.  The Council
sent a response to your request on 26th July 2019.
 
We have 20 working days to respond to an internal review request and our
response to you is due on 6th September 2019.
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
 
FOI Coordinator
Corporate Services
 
St Albans City & District Council District Council Offices, St Peter's
Street, St Albans, Herts AL1 3JE     
 
Tel: 01727 866100    [1]www.stalbans.gov.uk                
                                                                   
 
Do you have a ‘MyStAlbans’ District Account?
To register, just go to [2]www.stalbans.gov.uk/mystalbansdistrictaccount
to access a personalised online account that gives you instant access to
lots of useful council services, wherever you live in the District.
[3][IMG]
 
****Disclaimer****
The information in this message should be regarded as Private and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated.
If you have received this message in error it must be deleted and the
sender
notified.
The views expressed in this message are personal and not necessarily
those of St Albans City and District Council unless explicitly stated.
Please be aware that emails sent to or received from St Albans City and
District Council may be intercepted and read by the council.
Interception will only occur to ensure compliance with council policies or
procedures or regulatory obligations, to prevent or deter crime, or for
the
purposes of essential maintenance or support of the email system.
Please note that the Council does not accept service by e-mail
The personal information you provide will be held in accordance with the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Council’s Data
Protection Policy.  You can find more information about how we will handle
your personal information in our privacy notice: [4]Privacy Notice

References

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Julie Young, St Albans District Council

CORPORATE SERVICES
Head of Service - Simonne De Vall
 
Our Ref: 000003591
Please ask for: FOI Coordinator
Direct Dial:  (01727) 819209
e-mail address: [St Albans District Council request email]
Date:  4th September 2019

 
 
 
Dear Mr Chait
 
Freedom of Information Request – Internal Review 000003591
 
I write with regard to your request, received on 8^th August 2019, for our
response to be reviewed under the Internal Review procedure.
 
On the 3^rd July 2017 you requested information a list of all business
property rates data for the district.  You specified that you required
billing authority reference code (VOA database); firm’s trading name;
property address; occupied/vacant; actual annual rates charged.
 
We responded to your request on 26th July 2019.  You are unhappy with our
response and you provided a lengthy email in response which set out the
Information Commissioner’s decisions which you consider support your
position that data about business property rates including empty
properties is not subject to any applicable exemptions under the Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA).  You cite detailed analysis and statistical
information which support your supposition that the section 31 exemption
does not apply. 
 
In our original reply we  provided a link to the website where we provide
some of the data requested.  We do not provide the details relating to
empty properties.  We referred you to the statement on the website that
refers to current case law and indicates an initial position on empty
property data.
 
Internal Review Response
 
Firstly, we accept that our initial response was a departure from our
normal position with regard to commercial/business properties.  This was
an oversight due to a change in staff managing the FOI process in that
department.  We therefore enclose an excel spreadsheet of the information
requested.
 
Secondly, we have read the statistical information and analysis you
provide and we note that given the Information Commissioner’s decisions,
it seems likely that were we to have applied section 31, we would still
have determined release was appropriate given the balance of the public
interest test. 
 
We note that the case law is not recent (Voyias is 2013); you will be
aware that case law remains relevant until superceded by other case law. 
We accept that the decisions can be differentiated to some extent given
they relate to residential properties and not commercial.  We note your
lengthy analysis of crime statistics and we do not seek to present our own
statistics on this point.  We note the Information Commissioner’s
decisions, many of which find section 31 made out but the public interest
test in favour of disclosure. It is the application of the public interest
test as set out in the Commissioner’s decisions that in our view supports
the release of this information. 
 
Whilst we are releasing the information and do not seek to rely on section
31 of the Freedom of Information Act, this does not mean that we have
considered and or agree with all the suppositions you set out in reply. 
 
In this case we apologise for inconvenience caused by the oversight
described above and we release this commercial property information as
requested.
 
You have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office at the
following address: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
 
Kind regards
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
 
Colm O'Callaghan
Deputy Chief Executive (Finance & Legal)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I write with regard to your request, received on 8th August 2019 for our
response to be reviewed under the Freedom of Information Act Internal
Review procedure.
 
On the 3rd July 2019 you requested information:
 
 
 
We responded to your request on 26th July 2019.  You are unhappy with our
response and you have stated:
 
[insert IR request]
 
In our original reply we stated that [deal with the issue raised in the IR
request.g. WE DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE ACT - you asked for the number of
properties in Crazyland Street and we treated it as a request for the
names and addresses of the occupants.  I accept that our response was not
in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  I have now
provided the number of properties in Crazyland Street as requested.
g. WE DID COMPLY WITH THE ACT and WE ARE NOW RELEASING MORE- you asked for
the names addresses and telephone numbers of properties in Crazyland
Street.  We considered that the information you requested was personal
data of another and therefore we withheld the information.  We explained
the exemption as follows [insert the extract from the response about the
exemption/why we were not releasing the information].  I accept that our
response is not in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000
because the exemption did not apply to all of the information requested. 
I now enclose the addresses in the Crazyland Street as requested.  We
still uphold the exemption with regard to the names and telephone numbers
because ……….  We apologise for the inconvenience caused by our error.
 
e.g. WE DID COMPLY WITH THE ACT and WE ARE UPHOLDING OUR RESPONSE- you
asked for the telephone numbers of all residents in the council properties
in Crazyland Street.  We considered that the information you requested was
personal data of another and therefore we withheld the information.  We
explained the exemption as follows [insert the extract from the response
about the exemption/why we were not releasing the information].  I
consider that the exemption still applies [address any concerns raised in
the IR request] and our response was in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. 
 
You have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office at the
following address: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
You must do this no later than two months after the Local Authority’s last
response to you.
 
Kind regards
 
 
 
 
Head of ……. Or Strategic Principal Officer
 
 
 
 
                       
 
Do you have a ‘MyStAlbans’ District Account?
To register, just go to [1]www.stalbans.gov.uk/mystalbansdistrictaccount
to access a personalised online account that gives you instant access to
lots of useful council services, wherever you live in the District.
[2][IMG]
 
****Disclaimer****
The information in this message should be regarded as Private and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated.
If you have received this message in error it must be deleted and the
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Julie Young, St Albans District Council

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CORPORATE SERVICES
Head of Service - Simonne De Vall
 
Our Ref: 000003591
Please ask for: FOI Coordinator
Direct Dial:  (01727) 819209
e-mail address: [1][St Albans District Council request email]
Date:  4th September 2019

 
 
 
Dear Mr Chait
 
Freedom of Information Request – Internal Review 000003591
 
I write with regard to your request, received on 8^th August 2019, for our
response to be reviewed under the Internal Review procedure.
 
On the 3^rd July 2017 you requested information a list of all business
property rates data for the district.  You specified that you required
billing authority reference code (VOA database); firm’s trading name;
property address; occupied/vacant; actual annual rates charged.
 
We responded to your request on 26th July 2019.  You are unhappy with our
response and you provided a lengthy email in response which set out the
Information Commissioner’s decisions which you consider support your
position that data about business property rates including empty
properties is not subject to any applicable exemptions under the Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA).  You cite detailed analysis and statistical
information which support your supposition that the section 31 exemption
does not apply. 
 
In our original reply we  provided a link to the website where we provide
some of the data requested.  We do not provide the details relating to
empty properties.  We referred you to the statement on the website that
refers to current case law and indicates an initial position on empty
property data.
 
Internal Review Response
 
Firstly, we accept that our initial response was a departure from our
normal position with regard to commercial/business properties.  This was
an oversight due to a change in staff managing the FOI process in that
department.  We therefore enclose an excel spreadsheet of the information
requested.
 
Secondly, we have read the statistical information and analysis you
provide and we note that given the Information Commissioner’s decisions,
it seems likely that were we to have applied section 31, we would still
have determined release was appropriate given the balance of the public
interest test. 
 
We note that the case law is not recent (Voyias is 2013); you will be
aware that case law remains relevant until superceded by other case law. 
We accept that the decisions can be differentiated to some extent given
they relate to residential properties and not commercial.  We note your
lengthy analysis of crime statistics and we do not seek to present our own
statistics on this point.  We note the Information Commissioner’s
decisions, many of which find section 31 made out but the public interest
test in favour of disclosure. It is the application of the public interest
test as set out in the Commissioner’s decisions that in our view supports
the release of this information. 
 
Whilst we are releasing the information and do not seek to rely on section
31 of the Freedom of Information Act, this does not mean that we have
considered and or agree with all the suppositions you set out in reply. 
 
In this case we apologise for inconvenience caused by the oversight
described above and we release this commercial property information as
requested.
 
You have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office at the
following address: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
 
Kind regards
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
 
Colm O'Callaghan
Deputy Chief Executive (Finance & Legal)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I write with regard to your request, received on 8th August 2019 for our
response to be reviewed under the Freedom of Information Act Internal
Review procedure.
 
On the 3rd July 2019 you requested information:
 
 
 
We responded to your request on 26th July 2019.  You are unhappy with our
response and you have stated:
 
[insert IR request]
 
In our original reply we stated that [deal with the issue raised in the IR
request.g. WE DID NOT COMPLY WITH THE ACT - you asked for the number of
properties in Crazyland Street and we treated it as a request for the
names and addresses of the occupants.  I accept that our response was not
in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  I have now
provided the number of properties in Crazyland Street as requested.
g. WE DID COMPLY WITH THE ACT and WE ARE NOW RELEASING MORE- you asked for
the names addresses and telephone numbers of properties in Crazyland
Street.  We considered that the information you requested was personal
data of another and therefore we withheld the information.  We explained
the exemption as follows [insert the extract from the response about the
exemption/why we were not releasing the information].  I accept that our
response is not in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000
because the exemption did not apply to all of the information requested. 
I now enclose the addresses in the Crazyland Street as requested.  We
still uphold the exemption with regard to the names and telephone numbers
because ……….  We apologise for the inconvenience caused by our error.
 
e.g. WE DID COMPLY WITH THE ACT and WE ARE UPHOLDING OUR RESPONSE- you
asked for the telephone numbers of all residents in the council properties
in Crazyland Street.  We considered that the information you requested was
personal data of another and therefore we withheld the information.  We
explained the exemption as follows [insert the extract from the response
about the exemption/why we were not releasing the information].  I
consider that the exemption still applies [address any concerns raised in
the IR request] and our response was in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. 
 
You have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office at the
following address: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
You must do this no later than two months after the Local Authority’s last
response to you.
 
Kind regards
 
 
 
 
Head of ……. Or Strategic Principal Officer
 
 
 
 
                       
 
Do you have a ‘MyStAlbans’ District Account?
To register, just go to [2]www.stalbans.gov.uk/mystalbansdistrictaccount
to access a personalised online account that gives you instant access to
lots of useful council services, wherever you live in the District.
[3][IMG]
 
****Disclaimer****
The information in this message should be regarded as Private and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated.
If you have received this message in error it must be deleted and the
sender
notified.
The views expressed in this message are personal and not necessarily
those of St Albans City and District Council unless explicitly stated.
Please be aware that emails sent to or received from St Albans City and
District Council may be intercepted and read by the council.
Interception will only occur to ensure compliance with council policies or
procedures or regulatory obligations, to prevent or deter crime, or for
the
purposes of essential maintenance or support of the email system.
Please note that the Council does not accept service by e-mail
The personal information you provide will be held in accordance with the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Council’s Data
Protection Policy.  You can find more information about how we will handle
your personal information in our privacy notice: [4]Privacy Notice

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[St Albans District Council request email]
2. http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/mystalbansdis...
3. https://stalbans.force.com/mysadc/s/
4. http://www.stalbans.gov.uk/Images/Privac...