Complete Non-Residential / Business Property Rates Data

The request was refused by Carmarthenshire Council.

Dear Carmarthenshire Council,

In terms of the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, could you please provide me with a complete and up-to-date list of all business (non-residential) property rates data for Carthmarthenshire Local Authority, 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)

I appreciate that properties owned / rented by individuals are personal information and such personal data (i.e. the Firm's Trading Name) would be excluded from our request in terms of Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In such cases, please provide the remaining information with the Firm's Trading Name either blank or listed as 'individual'.

Please provide this as machine-readable as either a CSV or Microsoft Excel file, capable of re-use, and under terms of the Open Government Licence. I will be matching the billing authority code to the Valuations Office master list, so please ensure that the code is correctly formatted.

I am compiling a comprehensive time-series database of business activity across the UK and will require the dataset updated on a quarterly basis. Some 20% of local authorities already provide this dataset (and a total of 30% of local authorities provide a subset of these data) on a monthly to quarterly basis on a dedicated page on their websites or on an open data service. I would appreciate it if you could do the same.

Thank you and kind regards

Gavin Chait

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

Dear Mr Chait,

Thank you for your request for information, which was received on 2nd February, 2016 and is being dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We are therefore required to provide a response within 20 working days, which will be on or before 1st March, 2016.

If we require clarification we will contact you as soon as possible – please note that the timescale for response specified above may be subject to change if this is the case.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any queries, remembering to quote the reference number above in any communications.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

show quoted sections

FOIA, Carmarthenshire Council

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Chait,

I refer to your request for information, which was received on 2nd February, 2016 and has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

The specific information you requested was as follows:

"In terms of the Freedom of Information Act of 2000, could you
please provide me with a complete and up-to-date list of all
business (non-residential) property rates data for
Carthmarthenshire Local Authority, 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)

I appreciate that properties owned / rented by individuals are
personal information and such personal data (i.e. the Firm's
Trading Name) would be excluded from our request in terms of
Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In such
cases, please provide the remaining information with the Firm's
Trading Name either blank or listed as 'individual'."

In response, please find attached two spreadsheets which provide the relevant information held by the Council.

However, please note that we are withholding information regarding empty Properties owned by individuals, which is considered exempt from disclosure under the Act on the same basis as that set out in the Information Tribunal’s decision in England v Bexley & the ICO. In this case, Section 31 (1) (a) was found to apply to such information. Rather than repeat or summarise this decision, a full copy of the decision is attached.

As I am refusing to provide some of the requested information on the basis explained above, please consider this email to be a formal notice of refusal as required by Section 17 of the Act.

If you are unhappy with the way in which your request has been dealt with, you have the right to complain in the first instance to:

The Head of Administration & Law
Carmarthenshire County Council
County Hall
Carmarthen
Carmarthenshire
SA31 1JP

Email: [email address]

If you remain unhappy with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.org.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely

John Tillman
Swyddog Gwybodaeth a Diogelu Data
Adran y Prif Weithredwr
Cyngor Sir Gaerfyrddin

Information & Data Protection Officer
Chief Executive's Department
Carmarthenshire County Council

Mewnol/Internal: 4127
Allanol/External: 01267 224127

Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiadau yn gyfrinachol ac wedi'u bwriadu at ddefnydd yr unigolyn y'u cyfeiriwyd ato/ati yn unig. Os derbyniwch y neges hon trwy gamgymeriad, rhowch wybod i'r sawl a'i hanfonodd ar unwaith, dilëwch y neges o'ch cyfrifiadur a dinistriwch unrhyw gopïau papur ohoni. Ni ddylech ddangos yr e-bost i neb arall, na gweithredu ar sail y cynnwys. Eiddo'r awdur yw unrhyw farn neu safbwyntiau a fynegir, ac nid ydynt o reidrwydd yn cynrychioli safbwynt y Cyngor. Dylech wirio am firysau eich hunan cyn agor unrhyw atodiad. Nid ydym yn derbyn unrhyw atebolrwydd am golled neu niwed a all fod wedi'i achosi gan firysau meddalwedd neu drwy ryng-gipio'r neges hon neu ymyrryd â hi.

This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed.
If received in error please notify the sender immediately, delete the message from your computer and destroy any hard copies. The e-mail should not be disclosed to any other person, nor the contents acted upon.

Any views or opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Council.

You should carry out your own virus check before opening any attachment. We accept no liability for any loss or damage which may be caused by software viruses or interception/interruption of this mail.

Dear Carmarthenshire Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Carmarthenshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'Complete Non-Residential / Business Property Rates Data'.

On 2 February 2016, 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 has been refused in terms of Section 31(a). According to the Information Commissioners 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(a) deals specifically with "the prevention or detection of crime".

The purpose of our use of the data requested is in informing entrepreneurs and business seekers about opportunities in empty premises when they are advertised for new tenants. We combine local authority premises occupation data with other data (from the Valuations Office and ONS) to develop forward guidance on business potential in each empty business property. Further details on our activities are available at http://pikhaya.com, but our activity is supported by the Open Data Institute and we have received funding from the EU Open Data Incubator to develop this service.

Our combined data are made available via online commercial property leasing intermediaries as a free service to business seekers. These leasing intermediaries combine our data with properties being offered for rent.

In other words, these are properties being clearly advertised as empty whether the local authority data are publicly available or not.

I should also note that, of the 350 local authorities in England and Wales, over 100 of these either already make these data available, or have done so in response to FOI requests from ourselves.

I observe that, while some of the data requested was released, only those properties owned by individuals were excluded from release. As described in the original request, under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I would expect personal information to be obscured. That does not mean that the actual commercial premises should be removed from a data release, but only that the personally-identifying information be removed.

I am mindful, though, that not all authorities wish to release direct information on empty premises. In that case, could I suggest that you provide only a list of occupied properties which we would then reconcile against the master list of properties from the Valuations Office Agency (VOA). VOA data are available via their website, and the complete database by subscription. Empty premises will be known to residents of the community in which they are based.That means that anyone not resident in your community and wanting to find the list of empty properties would have to undertake the costs and technicalities of a similar data reconciliation.

I would ask that you consider that the public interest in economic development and improving opportunities for independent businesses and entrepreneurs far outweighs any concern that the release of data which can identify empty business properties may cause crime.

Unemployment and economic deprivation are often key to reducing the potential for crime. Our intention is to support local economic development initiatives through the use of these data.

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

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

Yours faithfully,

Gavin Chait

Robert Edgecombe, Carmarthenshire Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Chait,

 

Please find enclosed my response to your request for an internal review in
this matter.

 

Yours sincerely

Robert Edgecombe

Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiadau yn gyfrinachol ac wedi'u bwriadu at
ddefnydd yr unigolyn y'u cyfeiriwyd ato/ati yn unig. Mae'n bosib bod yr
e-bost hefyd yn cynnwys gwybodaeth gyfreithiol freintiedig. Os derbyniwch
y neges hon trwy gamgymeriad, rhowch wybod i'r sawl a'i hanfonodd ar
unwaith, dilëwch y neges o'ch cyfrifiadur a dinistriwch unrhyw gopïau
papur ohoni. Ni ddylech ddangos yr e-bost i unrhyw un arall, na gweithredu
ar sail y cynnwys. Eiddo'r awdur yw unrhyw farn neu safbwynt a fynegir, ac
nid ydynt o reidrwydd yn cynrychioli safbwynt y Cyngor. Dylech wirio am
firysau eich hunan cyn agor unrhyw atodiad. Nid ydym yn derbyn unrhyw
atebolrwydd am golled neu niwed a all fod wedi'i achosi gan firysau
meddalwedd neu trwy ryng-gipio’r neges hon neu ymyrryd â hi. Ni fydd y
Cyngor yn derbyn dogfennau a gyflwynir yn y cyfeiriad e-bost hwn at
ddibenion cyfreithiol, oni chytunir ar hynny yn ysgrifenedig ymlaen llaw
gyda'r sawl sy'n eu hanfon.

This e-mail and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for
the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. This e-mail may also
contain legally privileged information. If received in error please notify
the sender immediately, delete the message from your computer and destroy
any hard copies. The e-mail should not be disclosed to any other person,
nor the contents acted upon. Any views or opinions expressed are those of
the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Council. You
should carry out your own virus check before opening any attachment. We
accept no liability for any loss or damage which may be caused by software
viruses or interception/interruption of this mail. The Council will not
accept service of documents at this e-mail address for legal purposes,
unless agreed in advance in writing with the sender.

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