COSREC - update?

William Thackeray made this Freedom of Information request to City of London Corporation

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 partially successful.

William Thackeray

Dear City of London Corporation,

My enquiry concerns mandatory relief from national non-domestic rates (NNDR) granted by the City of London to Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc (CoSREC), a South Australian corporation.

On 27 September 2010, the City of London's Finance committee considered the issue of whether mandatory relief from NNDR should continue to be granted to COSREC. The briefing paper they used to reach this decision was the Report to Finance Committee dated 22 May, 2007.

Subsequently, on 25 Jan 2011, Bob Neill MP stated (in his official role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government) that:

"Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but Ministers are of the view that this does not mean that the Church of Scientology deserves favoured tax treatment over and above other ratepayers. The Church of Scientology is not a registered charity, the Charity Commission ruled that it does not provide a public benefit.

Councils should take these issues into consideration when weighing up whether to use their powers to issue charitable relief. Ministers do not believe that the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation."

This statement can be found on the DCLG website:
http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/...

In the light of this new statement from the DCLG, has the City of London reconsidered - or does it plan to reconsider - the tax break (mandatory relief from NNDR) it grants to COSREC?

Please provide the information to me in electronic format at this email address. As I have made previous FOIA requests to the City of London, I would (in order to avoid duplication) like to explicitly exclude from this request any information which I have previously requested - my interest in this request is exclusively in the City of London's response to DCLG's statement of January 2010.

You may wish to refer this query to Peter Nelson (Assistant Town Clerk) who has dealt with related requests in the past.

Thank you for your help with this issue.

Yours faithfully,

William Thackeray

COL - EB - Information Officer, City of London Corporation

Dear Mr Thackeray,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 (FOIA) - INFORMATION REQUEST

The City of London (CoL) acknowledges receipt of your request for
information of 19 July 2011.

Public authorities are required to respond to requests within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days beginning from the first working
day after they receive a request. The Act does not always require public
authorities to disclose the information which they hold.

The FOIA applies to the CoL as a local authority, police authority and
port health authority. The CoL is the local and police authority for the
"Square Mile", ie the historic City of London, and not for London as a
whole. Please see the following link to a map on the CoL's website, which
shows the area covered:

[1]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Corporation/maps/boundary_map.htm.
The CoL's port health authority functions extend beyond the City boundary.
For further information please see:
[2]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/porthealth.

Yours sincerely,

Information Officer
City of London
Tel: 020-7332 1209
[3]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

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COL - EB - Information Officer, City of London Corporation

Dear Mr. Thackeray,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 (FOIA) - INFORMATION REQUEST

I refer to your request of 19 July 2011, and the acknowledgement by the
City of London (CoL) on the same date.

In your request you asked whether the City of London (CoL) has
reconsidered, or whether it plans to reconsider "the tax break (mandatory
rate relief from NNDR) it grants to COSREC?" You also clarified that your
request explicitly excludes any information previously requested and
explained that you were interested "exclusively in the City of London's
response to DCLG's statement of January 2010".

We have taken your reference to "the DCLG's statement of January 2010" to
mean the letter from the DCLG dated 25 January 2011. We were not aware of
this letter; thank you for drawing it to our attention.

The City of London (CoL) responds as follows:

Since September 2010 the CoL has not reconsidered the award of mandatory
rate relief to the Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc
(COSREC). However, it is normal practice for the CoL to undertake an
annual review of all cases where business rate relief has been granted to
ensure that the criteria under section 43 of the Local Government Finance
Act 1988 continue to be met. We can confirm, therefore, that in reviewing
the award of relief to COSREC later this year, the letter will be taken
into consideration.

If you wish to make a complaint about the way the CoL has managed your
enquiry under the FOIA, please make your complaint in writing to email
address: [email address]. For a link to the CoL's FOI
complaints procedure, please visit the following page:
[1]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/Feedback, at the end of which is located the
FOI complaints procedure. If, having used the CoL's FOI Complaints
Procedure, you are still dissatisfied, you may request the Information
Commissioner to investigate. Please contact: Information Commissioner,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Tel: (01625)
545700. Website: [2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/.

The FOIA applies to the City of London as a local authority, police
authority and port health authority.

The City of London holds the copyright in this email. The supply of it
does not give a right to re-use it in a way that would infringe that
copyright, for example, by making copies, publishing and issuing copies to
the public or to any other person. Brief extracts of any of the material
may be reproduced under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988 (sections 29 and 30) for the purposes of
research for non-commercial purposes, private study, criticism, review and
news reporting, subject to an acknowledgement of the copyright owner.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Bilsland
Chamberlain
Chamberlain's Office
City of London
[3]www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

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William Thackeray

Dear Chris,

Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

Yours sincerely,

William Thackeray