Costs of Knowle Relocation Project

J Woodward made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon District 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 East Devon District Council.

Dear Ms Symington,

I would like to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I am also making this Request under the Environmental Impact Regulations 2004 which require disclosure on the part of Local Authorities.

OVERALL BUDGET:

According to the minutes of the Council meeting of 25th March 2015: “The Council will secure relocation in total for under £10m” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/25... [including press report: http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/gr...

According to the agenda for the Cabinet meeting of 6th April 2016, the ‘overall budget’ for the relocation project is £9.7m: http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06...
This was confirmed during the meeting: “The Deputy Chief Executive advised the budget for relocation remained the same.” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1649621/06...

> Could you provide the breakdown of the overall budget. How was the figure arrived at? When was this figure arrived at?

> In stating that “the budget for relocation remained the same,” could you confirm the reference point for the comparison made. What was the overall budget at the inception of the relocation project? Have there been any changes since then?

OVERRUN COSTS:

According to the agenda for the Cabinet meeting of 6th April 2016, “we are allowing a further three months within the project timetable. The timeline now anticipates HQ occupation in Feb 2018.” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06...

> Could you clarify how the amended Construction Timetable, “To reflect the revision of the planning timetable” and the “further three months within the project timetable”, will affect costs. What provision has been made for cost overrun? What clauses in any agreements with PegasusLife account for any “revision of the planning timetable”?

Following the Stakeholder Engagement Event 26 July 2013, the following question was posed on the Moving and Improving pages: “Costs appear to be the driver for this project. How confident are you that the 20% contingency you have put aside will be enough to manage any overruns?”
It was answered in the following manner: “As we have made clear, keeping costs down for the District is a priority for the Council and office relocation is a part of that.” http://futuresforumvgs.blogspot.co.uk/20...

> Could you confirm that the 20% contingency still stands. How much exactly does this contingency amount to? Where is it included in the ‘overall budget’ costs?

EXMOUTH:

According to the minutes of the Council meeting of 25th March 2015: “Exmouth Town Hall modernisation will cost in the region of £1m” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/25...

According to the agenda for the Cabinet meeting of 6th April 2016, “There is more financial risk with costs associated with Exmouth Town Hall as this is a refurbishment project and the condition of the building appears to worse than expected” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06...

According to the response to a further FOI request, the Exmouth property dates back to the 1920s and possibly to the 1870s – which compares to the date of the Knowle property to the 1880s and the 1970s: “We understand it was converted into municipal offices following acquisition by the former Exmouth Urban District Council in the 1920s and the deed pack contains a plan referring to a "house" on the land dating back to 1871 but we do not hold definitive dating information.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

> Could you provide the breakdown of the costs associated with the refurbishment project. How exactly does the fact that “the condition of the building appears to worse than expected” affect the final estimated costs of refurbishment of Exmouth Town Hall?

> Could you provide me with the specifications for refurbishment of the Exmouth site. Are the costs of refurbishing the Exmouth building based on the same principles and approach as for refurbishing the Knowle building? Are the details for refurbishment at Exmouth as detailed as those given for Knowle in the Davis Langdon [now AECOM] report presented to Cabinet on 17th July 2013 – which concluded that the total sum for refurbishment at Knowle would be £15m? http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca...

HONITON:

Following the Stakeholder Engagement Event 26 July 2013, the following question was posed on the Moving and Improving pages: “What is the estimated Capital Cost of a new build office?”
It was answered in the following manner: “It is not possible to be exact and any figures should be treated with caution. However, as a ball park figure something in the region of £6 - 8 million is not unreasonable, depending whether it is constructed to a BREEAM Very Good or Excellent Standard.” http://futuresforumvgs.blogspot.co.uk/20...

According to the minutes of the Council meeting of 25th March 2015: “New Offices at Honiton will cost in the region of £7m” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/25...

In my FOI request “Cost and value of proposed headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton” of 3rd January 2015, I made several requests for information – and received replies from you on 9th February: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

Now that eighteen months have elapsed and now that this particular aspect of the relocation project has advanced considerably, could you now provide full answers to my original questions:

> My first question was: “I would be grateful if you could remind me of the costs for the proposed new-build headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton, which I understand has been made publicly available”
> Now that the detailed planning application has been submitted, could you confirm a breakdown of the building costs for the new headquarters at Honiton: https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online...

> My second question was: “What work has been carried out by the District Council to determine the value of the proposed new headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton once they have been built?” To which you answered: “We will be in a better position to advise on the value once a design has been prepared and accepted.”
> In which case, now that “a design has been prepared and accepted”, could you provide me with details as to “what work has been carried out by the District Council to determine the value of the proposed new headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton once they have been built”.

COSTS OF BORROWING:

At the Cabinet meeting of 17th July 2013, the costs of borrowing were outlined: “The option to move would use capital receipts from the sale of the Knowle and, if required, prudential borrowing up to a maximum of £4.8M (the calculated savings on running costs over the 20 years following the move).” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183338/ca...
This was confirmed in October and November 2013: http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/182093/os_... http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1005015/21...

According to the minutes of the Council meeting of 25th March 2015, the costs of borrowing were confirmed as follows: “To make the move to modern offices £2.1m of long-term borrowing was needed” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/25...

According to the agenda for the Cabinet meeting of 8th June 2016, the costs of borrowing were as follows:
“Future Borrowing
There are plans for the Council to borrow £13,262,782 to fund its capital programme in 2016/17.
This borrowing may be from internal resources, PWLB, or from the market, the most cost effective method being selected at the time the funds are required.
The 2016/17 borrowing requirement is made up as follows:
… £5,990,000 Office Relocation” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1732386/08...

> Could you provide a breakdown of how each of these figures was reached – namely: £2.1m, £4.6m and £5.99m. What does each of these figures represent? How are these seeming discrepancies to be explained?

STAFF LEVELS AND COSTS:

A job advertisement for the Relocation Manager in early 2012 stated that the figure was 400 staff: “...will facilitate the district council office move from its current offices to a new building for approximately 400 staff.” http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/vit...
And: www.eastdevon.gov.uk/relocation_project_...
And: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

At the Cabinet meeting of 17th July 2013, a report was submitted on staffing numbers: “7.0 New Build Office Running Costs: 7.1 Calculation of anticipated running costs of a new build office assumes the following:-
2. The number of staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level. It is understood desk spaces will be reduced to allow for modern working practices.
4.0.0 Office accommodation requirements: 4.1.6 The Corporate Organisational Development Manager is investigating the potential for staff to work in more mobile and flexible ways. Work Smart is the council’s name for its home, mobile and flexible working arrangements for staff which will be developed through the Council’s management team and subject to consultation with staff and fit with operational requirements. It will involve more staff working away from the office or dividing their time between the office and another location. In doing so EDDC hopes to have a more flexible workforce and service delivery available and accessible to customers around the district. More desks can be shared, storage space reduced, communal and shared space more effectively provided and less traditional office space overall will be required. Initial staff survey work, Member requirements and office layout planning has resulted in an office size projection that involves a mix of communal space, meeting space, reception area, 250 desks and Council specific space such as the Council Chamber itself. This leads to an overall total floor space of 3,352m2.
Further detailed operational and design work will be conducted to refine the mix and usage of that space.” www.eastdevon.gov.uk/cabinet_agenda_1707...

The District Council says it will need 250 desk-bound staff, confirmed at the Cabinet meeting of 3rd December 2014: “h. A new HQ in Honiton can be restricted in size and cost to a 170 desk equivalent scale with an improved Exmouth Town Hall for 80 EDDC staff” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/526937/031...

> Could you confirm that “the number of staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”. What is the “current level” of staff? Why is there a seeming discrepancy between the 2012 and the 2014 figures? How many staff will be stationed at Honiton and Exmouth? How many will be stationed at “another location”?

> Could you also confirm that the costs of “staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”. What are these anticipated to amount to?

> Could you provide cost details with regard to the Work Smart arrangements. What are the costs of employing further IT and other specialists to facilitate and implement the Work Smart arrangements? Have these costs been included in the total ‘overall budget’ for the relocation project?

> Could you confirm that a redundancy policy with regard to the relocation project has been formulated. What costs have been factored in for redundancies for those unwilling or unable to move offices, for recruitment of replacement staff and for compensation to staff who stay with regard to additional commuting time and costs?

ENERGY COSTS:

I have now received a response to my Internal Review – from an FOI request from 9th April 2016 – with regard to several questions on the relocation project. I have in turn responded that I will be seeking clarification from the Information Commissioner’s Office: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...
However, I would like to reiterate these points as background to my further questions below:

> "7: Could you clarify exactly what the basis is for the figure of "annual energy costs of £83,900 pa" for Knowle? Is this the calculation for one year, or the average figure over a period?” And: “Does the "predicted energy cost for Honiton/Exmouth combined of £33,700 pa" still stand? And: “What are the calculations for the Council's energy costs for Knowle "even after repairs"?” And: “Could you clarify exactly what the basis is for the figure of "annual energy costs of £83,900 pa" for Knowle?” In other words, could you please provide me with the exact calculations by which Davis Langdon [now AECOM] arrived at the figure of £83,901 by March 2015?” And: “Could you provide me with the actual figure for energy costs as at March 2015?” And: “Does the "predicted energy cost for Honiton/Exmouth combined of £33,700 pa" still stand?” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

> "8: Did the Council refer to Dept. of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) predictions for energy costs over the next 20 years when calculating "the total savings in running costs of Honiton/Exmouth over Knowle"? And: “Which figures and which website links did the Council use to make these calculations?" And: “I would like access to the specific documentation from the DECC which the Council used when calculating energy costs over the 20 year period.” And: “I would like access to the specific documentation provided by the SWEEG at the time.” And: “I would like full access to the external independent advice, the energy cost as identified within the DECC's updated projections 2014 and Grant Thornton's own model.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

According to the minutes of the Council meeting of 25th March 2015, earlier calculations for energy savings were confirmed: “Comparing operational expenditure over 20 years between Knowle and the twin site solution of Honiton and Exmouth, the twin sites will save the Council £6m.” And: “From day 1 of the move and thereafter in the new and modernised offices the Council will be saving on operational expenditure including repayment of borrowing; after 20 years the Council would have cleared the debt.” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/25...

In my FOI request “Cost and value of proposed headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton” of 3rd January 2015, I made several requests for information – but this did not include any requests for running costs: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

> Could you provide me with information with regards to the “operational expenditure over 20 years” for “the twin site solution of Honiton and Exmouth”. What are the anticipated costs, including energy, for both sites? How exactly will “the twin sites save the Council £6m”?

In my FOI request “Specs for Honiton and Exmouth HQs”, I had asked for the approximate figures for the area of the Heathpark and Exmouth Town Hall premises, and was provided with the following information:
For Honiton:
“2619 m2. This figure is subject to design development”
For Exmouth:
“1249 m2 - this is an existing building and so the figure is fixed”
“Exmouth Town Council: 901 sq feet” [= 83.7 m2]
“I can confirm that the current area identified for EDDC staff at Exmouth
Town Hall is 585m2 – excluding all communal, circulating and meeting
spaces.”
“The area of the committee room and chamber is 1,445 sq feet [= 134.2 m2] which is available for use by all tenants and others.”
“The approximate gross internal floor measurement for areas classed as circulation/communal/meeting areas (including the Chamber) is 366 m2.”
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...
[And further information is available for the Heathpark planning application specifications at: https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online... and http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06...

> Could you confirm the floor area of the two sites to be used by the Council at Honiton and Exmouth: this is 2619 m2 for Honiton and 951 m2 (= 585 m2 plus 366 m2) for Exmouth giving a total of 3570 m2; these are by my own calculation using the information provided above. I would like the total figures for both sites in m2 which will be used by the District Council, either exclusively or as shared facilities.

According to the Davis Langdon [now AECOM] report presented to Cabinet on 17th July 2013 – energy costs at Knowle are based on the total floor area currently used by staff: “3.4.3: The current gross internal floor area totals some 7,722 m2, with the former Hotel providing 5,784 m2 and the Office Extensions 1,938m2." http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca...

> Could you confirm the floor area of the current site at Knowle. [See my FOI request “Total floor area of Knowle” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t... ]

> Could you confirm that the calculations for energy and other operating cost savings for the relocation project were calculated on the total floor area of the Knowle site (7,722 m2) and not on the total floor area of the Honiton and Exmouth sites (approx. 3570 m2). [See my own calculations above.]

> Could you confirm that the approaches and methods to calculate energy and other operating costs used for the Honiton and Exmouth sites have been the same as those used by Davis Langdon [now AECOM] to calculate energy and other operating costs at Knowle. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca... Are the same criteria and standards as specified in the 2013 report the same as those being applied to both the new Honiton and the refurbished Exmouth sites? I would like access to the comparative data.

Thank you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Woodward

East Devon District Council

Thank you for submitting a request for information. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For updates on this case, please quote your unique reference number 101000574652 .

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East Devon District Council

Good morning Mr Woodward

Thank you for your request for information. I have pulled out from your lengthy email, the actual information requests, which I have listed below and provided our responses/links to information underneath, where appropriate. We have noted that many of these information requests are duplicates of previous requests and so have referred to earlier responses, where applicable.

1. Breakdown of the overall budget for the re-location project and how figure arrived at
The overall budget remains the same as published in the Cabinet report of March 2015 which is available here http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110.... Our project document archive also contains a breakdown of the budget with some minor redactions for on-going commercial matters http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1468420/6-... . This redacted detail remains exempt from disclosure under Regulation 12(5)(e) but, as previously advised, it will be published, along with more recent documentation, at appropriate project milestones and when its commercial sensitivity has reduced.

2. What was the overall budget at the inception of the project?
See above http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110...

3. What clauses in any agreements with Pegasus Life account for any revision of the planning timetable
I refer you back to our response of 19th November to a previous information request which outlined our reasons for withholding the contractual agreement between EDDC and Pegasus Life. As our response to that request is currently the subject of a complaint to the ICO, we will not respond further on the same point. It is now for the ICO to determine whether appropriate exceptions have been applied to this information which, at this point in time, remains withheld for reasons of commercial confidentiality (Reg 12(5)(e))

4. Where is the 20% contingency included in the overall budget costs?
The overall budget contains a 20% contingency.

5. Could you provide a breakdown of costs for the refurbishment project for Exmouth Town Hall
The costs for this project are not yet known and details of any anticipated costs and / or negotiations with contractors is commercially confidential and exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e).

6. Could you provide me with the specifications for the refurbishment of the Exmouth site
No detailed specification is held at this time. This matter is currently subject to contractor negotiation, the detail of which is exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e).

7. Could you remind me of the costs for the proposed new-build headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton
As per our response to you in April 2016, our response to this request is as follows: Detailed build costs are not yet available. The baseline budget is identified in the recent report to Cabinet http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06... (item 11). This report outlines the stage we are at with the new-build in Honiton.

8. Could you confirm a breakdown of the building costs for the new headquarters at Honiton
Anticipated costs are exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e)

9. Could you provide details as to what work has been carried out by the District Council to determine the value of the proposed new headquarters at Heathpark once they have been built
As per our response to you in April 2016, our response to this request is as follows: No further work will be carried out until a design has been finalised and planning permission granted.

10. Could you provide a breakdown of the costs of borrowing figures ? namely £4.6m and £5.99m.
The link above to the March 2015 Cabinet report includes an estimated cost of borrowing

11. How many staff will be stationed at Honiton and Exmouth. How many stationed at another location
There will be 220 desks at Heathpark and 90 based in Exmouth ? staff work with different workstyles which are fixed office workers, mobile, flexible or homeworker and it is not necessary to have a 1:1 ratio of desk to staff.

12. What are costs of staff employed in the new facility anticipated to amount to
We are unclear what information you are seeking here and would ask you to clarify this point please.

13. Could you provide cost details with regard to the worksmart arrangements. What are the costs of employing further IT specialists to facilitate and implement the work smart arrangements?
No information held.

14. Could you provide me with the energy costs as at March 2015
The energy costs at Knowle have been provided to you previously in the form of actual bills for the period including March 2015. These were sent to you on 9th March 2016 and included bills up to September 2015. The ICO has determined that this was a reasonable response to your previous requests about energy costs at Knowle.

15. Could you provide me with information with regards to the operational expenditure over 20 years for the twin-site solution of Honiton and Exmouth. What are the anticipated costs, including energy, for both sites? How exactly will the twin sites save the council £6m
I refer you again to the Cabinet report of March 2015

16. I would like total figures for both sites in m2 (Honiton and Exmouth)
The figure for Exmouth (1,249m2) was sent to you on 20th April 2016
Heathpark: 2,619m2

17. Could you confirm the floor area for the current site at Knowle
7,722m2 as provided to you previously in January 2014

I hope this information is helpful but if you feel dissatisfied with our response to your request, please refer the matter to our Monitoring Officer for an internal review [email address]

You may also contact the Information Commissioner for advice at www.ico.org.uk

Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

Dear Ms Symington,
Thank you for your response of 3rd August.
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
I am writing to request an internal review of East Devon District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Costs of Knowle Relocation Project'.
I would like to refer to my own questions – and to your own answers of 3rd August.

OVERALL BUDGET:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide the breakdown of the overall budget. How was the figure arrived at? When was this figure arrived at?
Your Answer 1. Breakdown of the overall budget for the re-location project and how figure arrived at .
The overall budget remains the same as published in the Cabinet report of March 2015 which is available here http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110.... Our project document archive also contains a breakdown of the budget with some minor redactions for on-going commercial matters http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1468420/6-... . This redacted detail remains exempt from disclosure under Regulation 12(5)(e) but, as previously advised, it will be published, along with more recent documentation, at appropriate project milestones and when its commercial sensitivity has reduced.
>>> My Response: I am prepared to accept this response for the time being, as you state that there are ‘minor redactions’ only.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > In stating that “the budget for relocation remained the same,” could you confirm the reference point for the comparison made. What was the overall budget at the inception of the relocation project? Have there been any changes since then?
Your Answer 2. What was the overall budget at the inception of the project?
See above http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110...
>>> My response: Thank you for the reference.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you clarify how the amended Construction Timetable, “To reflect the revision of the planning timetable” and the “further three months within the project timetable”, will affect costs.
>>> My response: You have failed to answer this in any way. Could you please provide an answer. Thank you.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > What provision has been made for cost overrun? What clauses in any agreements with PegasusLife account for any “revision of the planning timetable”?
Your Answer 3. What clauses in any agreements with Pegasus Life account for any revision of the planning timetable?
I refer you back to our response of 19th November to a previous information request which outlined our reasons for withholding the contractual agreement between EDDC and Pegasus Life. As our response to that request is currently the subject of a complaint to the ICO, we will not respond further on the same point. It is now for the ICO to determine whether appropriate exceptions have been applied to this information which, at this point in time, remains withheld for reasons of commercial confidentiality (Reg 12(5)(e))
>>> My response: Thank you. We shall await the outcome of the case being considered by the ICO.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm that the 20% contingency still stands. How much exactly does this contingency amount to? Where is it included in the ‘overall budget’ costs?
Your Answer 4. Where is the 20% contingency included in the overall budget costs?
The overall budget contains a 20% contingency.
>>> My response: Thank you for the information.

EXMOUTH:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide the breakdown of the costs associated with the refurbishment project. How exactly does the fact that “the condition of the building appears to worse than expected” affect the final estimated costs of refurbishment of Exmouth Town Hall?
Your Answer 5: The costs for this project are not yet known and details of any anticipated costs and / or negotiations with contractors is commercially confidential and exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e)
>>> My response: The fact that you state (http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06... ) that the “the condition of the building appears to worse than expected” means that there will be a corresponding effect on the costs of refurbishment. If you do not wish to let me have details of these costs for the moment, could you at least confirm that a) Members have access to these figures; b) that these costs will be more than anticipated; and c) by what percentage the estimated costs will rise. Thank you.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide me with the specifications for refurbishment of the Exmouth site. Are the costs of refurbishing the Exmouth building based on the same principles and approach as for refurbishing the Knowle building? Are the details for refurbishment at Exmouth as detailed as those given for Knowle in the Davis Langdon [now AECOM] report presented to Cabinet on 17th July 2013 – which concluded that the total sum for refurbishment at Knowle would be £15m? http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca...
Your Answer 6: No detailed specification is held at this time. This matter is currently subject to contractor negotiation, the detail of which is exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e).
>>> My response: You have failed to provide an answer to my question comparing specifically the methodologies for calculating costs at Exmouth and Knowle. I asked if the same approach for refurbishing the Exmouth premises is the same as that which was used when calculating the refurbishment of Knowle (and the refurbishment of Knowle was subsequently rejected). Could you please answer this specific point. Thank you.

HONITON:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > “I would be grateful if you could remind me of the costs for the proposed new-build headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton, which I understand has been made publicly available”
Your answer 7: As per our response to you in April 2016, our response to this request is as follows: Detailed build costs are not yet available. The baseline budget is identified in the recent report to Cabinet http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06... (item 11). This report outlines the stage we are at with the new-build in Honiton.
>>> My response: Whilst in April, now six months ago, detailed build costs were not available, I would have expected the figures to be available now. Again, if you do not wish to let me have details of these costs, could you at least confirm that a) Members have access to these figures; and b) that these costs will be either the same as or different to those anticipated? Thank you.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Now that the detailed planning application has been submitted, could you confirm a breakdown of the building costs for the new headquarters at Honiton: https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online...
Your answer 8: Anticipated costs are exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e)
>>> My response: Your constant reference to this Regulation evades the point that, in order to arrive at well-informed decisions, Members of the Council and interested members of the public need access to information so as to judge any decision as sound. The intention of this Regulation cannot have been to stymie informed debate and proper decision-making. It is primarily for this reason that I have asked for an Internal Review.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > My second question was: “What work has been carried out by the District Council to determine the value of the proposed new headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton once they have been built?” To which you answered: “We will be in a better position to advise on the value once a design has been prepared and accepted.”
> In which case, now that “a design has been prepared and accepted”, could you provide me with details as to “what work has been carried out by the District Council to determine the value of the proposed new headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton once they have been built”.
Your answer 9: As per our response to you in April 2016, our response to this request is as follows: No further work will be carried out until a design has been finalised and planning permission granted.
>>> My response: Again, I find this evasive. You actually stated that you would “be in a better position to advise on the value once a design has been prepared and accepted.” And now that “a design has been prepared and accepted” you still refuse to provide the information; the value of a property can be estimated by professionals without it having first to achieve planning permission. Could you please provide me with your own estimation of the value of the completed property – as this will be joining your list of assets which you will have to account for. Thank you.

COSTS OF BORROWING:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide a breakdown of how each of these figures was reached – namely: £2.1m, £4.6m and £5.99m. What does each of these figures represent? How are these seeming discrepancies to be explained?
Your answer 10: The link above to the March 2015 Cabinet report includes an estimated cost of borrowing
>>> My response: You have failed to provide an answer, as the link to documentation you mention does not refer to all three figures. Could you please explain the differences between the three figures and answer my questions in full. Thank you.

STAFF LEVELS AND COSTS:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm that “the number of staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”. What is the “current level” of staff? Why is there a seeming discrepancy between the 2012 and the 2014 figures? How many staff will be stationed at Honiton and Exmouth? How many will be stationed at “another location”?
Your answer 11: There will be 220 desks at Heathpark and 90 based in Exmouth ? staff work with different workstyles which are fixed office workers, mobile, flexible or homeworker and it is not necessary to have a 1:1 ratio of desk to staff.
>>> My response: Again, you have failed to provide an answer to my question. I did not ask how many desks will be provided. I asked how many staff will be on your payroll – as you yourself have referred to “the number of staff”. Could you please answer my questions. Thank you.
Furthermore, the Council stated in March 2015: “1.21 Some proposals have been made by third parties that suggest that the Council could somehow squeeze into the rear buildings leaving the former hotel to be redeveloped into flats. This is financially and operationally impractical.” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110...
As you have referred to the number of desks in your current answer, would the figure of 220 desks ‘squeeze into the rear buildings’ at Knowle? I would be grateful for an answer as this is both relevant and follows on from your own methodology. Thank you.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you also confirm that the costs of “staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”. What are these anticipated to amount to?
Your answer 12: We are unclear what information you are seeking here and would ask you to clarify this point please.
>>> My response: To clarify: What are the current costs of staff employed at the current HQ? And what do you anticipate the future costs of staff employed at the new HQs (“the new facility”)? Thank you.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide cost details with regard to the Work Smart arrangements. What are the costs of employing further IT and other specialists to facilitate and implement the Work Smart arrangements? Have these costs been included in the total ‘overall budget’ for the relocation project?
Your answer 13: No information held
>>> My response: In the accounts for 2015-16, which I have examined, there are several entries for “Seashell Communications, Teignmouth: Work smart: How to work better: working from home: hot desking” etc. There have been other Worksmart meetings, for example, at Exmouth Town Hall http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1468420/6-... (point 1.2). I would like you to provide me with the full costs with regard to the Work Smart arrangements please, as these references are only a part of those. Thank you.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm that a redundancy policy with regard to the relocation project has been formulated. What costs have been factored in for redundancies for those unwilling or unable to move offices, for recruitment of replacement staff and for compensation to staff who stay with regard to additional commuting time and costs?
>>> My response: You have failed to answer this. Could you please provide an answer. Thank you.

ENERGY COSTS:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > "7: Could you clarify exactly what the basis is for the figure of "annual energy costs of £83,900 pa" for Knowle? Is this the calculation for one year, or the average figure over a period?” And: “Does the "predicted energy cost for Honiton/Exmouth combined of £33,700 pa" still stand? And: “What are the calculations for the Council's energy costs for Knowle "even after repairs"?” And: “Could you clarify exactly what the basis is for the figure of "annual energy costs of £83,900 pa" for Knowle?” In other words, could you please provide me with the exact calculations by which Davis Langdon [now AECOM] arrived at the figure of £83,901 by March 2015?” And: “Could you provide me with the actual figure for energy costs as at March 2015?”
And: “Does the "predicted energy cost for Honiton/Exmouth combined of £33,700 pa" still stand?” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...
MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > "8: Did the Council refer to Dept. of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) predictions for energy costs over the next 20 years when calculating "the total savings in running costs of Honiton/Exmouth over Knowle"? And: “Which figures and which website links did the Council use to make these calculations?" And: “I would like access to the specific documentation from the DECC which the Council used when calculating energy costs over the 20 year period.” And: “I would like access to the specific documentation provided by the SWEEG at the time.” And: “I would like full access to the external independent advice, the energy cost as identified within the DECC's updated projections 2014 and Grant Thornton's own model.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...
Your answer 14: The energy costs at Knowle have been provided to you previously in the form of actual bills for the period including March 2015. These were sent to you on 9th March 2016 and included bills up to September 2015. The ICO has determined that this was a reasonable response to your previous requests about energy costs at Knowle.
>>> My response. I totally accept the ICO’s Decision that your response was reasonable with regard to my requests for energy bills. However, ‘energy bills’ is not the same as ‘energy costs’ as far as my detailed questions above are concerned and you have again evaded my questions. Nevertheless, the questions 7 and 8 above are now with the ICO for consideration and I await their response.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide me with information with regards to the “operational expenditure over 20 years” for “the twin site solution of Honiton and Exmouth”. What are the anticipated costs, including energy, for both sites? How exactly will “the twin sites save the Council £6m”?
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110...
Your answer 15: I refer you again to the Cabinet report of March 2015
>>> My response: I am prepared to accept this response for the time being, as the report does indeed provide some detail, although the basis on which these figures have been calculated can be questioned. I might return to this point at a later date.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm the floor area of the two sites to be used by the Council at Honiton and Exmouth: this is 2619 m2 for Honiton and 951 m2 (= 585 m2 plus 366 m2) for Exmouth giving a total of 3570 m2; these are by my own calculation using the information provided above. I would like the total figures for both sites in m2 which will be used by the District Council, either exclusively or as shared facilities.
Your answer 16: The figure for Exmouth (1,249m2) was sent to you on 20th April 2016
Heathpark: 2,619m2
>>> My response: Thank you for that clarification.

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm the floor area of the current site at Knowle. [See my FOI request “Total floor area of Knowle” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t... ]
> Could you confirm that the calculations for energy and other operating cost savings for the relocation project were calculated on the total floor area of the Knowle site (7,722 m2) and not on the total floor area of the Honiton and Exmouth sites (approx. 3570 m2). [See my own calculations above.]
> Could you confirm that the approaches and methods to calculate energy and other operating costs used for the Honiton and Exmouth sites have been the same as those used by Davis Langdon [now AECOM] to calculate energy and other operating costs at Knowle. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca... Are the same criteria and standards as specified in the 2013 report the same as those being applied to both the new Honiton and the refurbished Exmouth sites? I would like access to the comparative data.
Your answer 17: 7,722m2 as provided to you previously in January 2014
>>> My response: You did indeed provide a response to my request on 29th January 2014 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c... ; however, I am still awaiting a response to a further request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...
Nevertheless, you have failed to provide answers to my other questions. Could you please provide answers to these. Thank you.

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

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Woodward

East Devon District Council

Dear Mr Woodward,

Thank you for submitting a request for an internal review. We will respond to your request where reasonably possible, within 20 working days.

For updates on this case, please quote your unique reference number 101000607469.

---------------------------------------
Customer Service Centre
East Devon District Council
Web: www.eastdevon.gov.uk

Henry Gordon Lennox, East Devon District Council

Mr Woodward

 

I am sorry that you feel dissatisfied with our response to your request
for information. Because of the length of your email and sheer number of
queries, it has not been easy to pick out the specific points you wish to
be reviewed, but we have done our best to extract these from your text. I
have only left those parts of your email which we view as needing to be
addressed and we have provided our responses in bold font to try to make
it easier.

 

OVERALL BUDGET:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION  > Could you clarify how the amended Construction
Timetable, “To reflect the revision of the planning timetable” and the
“further three months within the project timetable”, will affect costs.

>>> My response: You have failed to answer this in any way. Could you
please provide an answer. Thank you.

EDDC Response: This is not a request for recorded information but a
question regarding a projection about future costs. I confirm that no
information is held in response to this part of your request.

 

EXMOUTH:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION  > Could you provide the breakdown of the costs
associated with the refurbishment project. How exactly does the fact that
“the condition of the building appears to worse than expected” affect the
final estimated costs of refurbishment of Exmouth Town Hall?

Your Answer 5:  The costs for this project are not yet known and details
of any anticipated costs and / or negotiations with contractors is
commercially confidential and exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e)

>>> My response: The fact that you state
([1]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06...
) that the “the condition of the building appears to worse than expected”
means that there will be a corresponding effect on the costs of
refurbishment. If you do not wish to let me have details of these costs
for the moment, could you at least confirm that a) Members have access to
these figures; b) that these costs will be more than anticipated; and c)
by what percentage the estimated costs will rise. Thank you.

EDDC Response: You are asking questions rather than asking for recorded
information and this goes beyond the scope of the FOI Act. We have told
you that detail of anticipated costs is commercially confidential at this
stage and that any information regarding these cost predictions is exempt
from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information
Regulations. Nothwithstanding, I can confirm though that this information
will be subject to Member scrutiny and will be published in the future
when it is appropriate to do so.

 

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide me with the specifications for
refurbishment of the Exmouth site. Are the costs of refurbishing the
Exmouth building based on the same principles and approach as for
refurbishing the Knowle building? Are the details for refurbishment at
Exmouth as detailed as those given for Knowle in the Davis Langdon [now
AECOM] report presented to Cabinet on 17th July 2013 – which concluded
that the total sum for refurbishment at Knowle would be £15m?
[2]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca...

Your Answer 6: No detailed specification is held at this time. This matter
is currently subject to contractor negotiation, the detail of which is
exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e).

>>> My response: You have failed to provide an answer to my question
comparing specifically the methodologies for calculating costs at Exmouth
and Knowle. I asked if the same approach for refurbishing the Exmouth
premises is the same as that which was used when calculating the
refurbishment of Knowle (and the refurbishment of Knowle was subsequently
rejected). Could you please answer this specific point. Thank you.

EDDC response: This is a question about how costs have been calculated –
not a request for recorded information. We have explained that detailed
specifications are currently under negotiation and that the detail of this
negotiation is currently exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e)

 

HONITON:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > “I would be grateful if you could remind me of the
costs for the proposed new-build headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton, which
I understand has been made publicly available”

Your answer 7: As per our response to you in April 2016, our response to
this request is as follows: Detailed build costs are not yet available.
The baseline budget is identified in the recent report to Cabinet
[3]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06... (item 11). This report
outlines the stage we are at with the new-build in Honiton.

>>> My response: Whilst in April, now six months ago, detailed build costs
were not available, I would have expected the figures to be available now.
Again, if you do not wish to let me have details of these costs, could you
at least confirm that a) Members have access to these figures;  and b)
that these costs will be either the same as or different to those
anticipated? Thank you.

EDDC response: The detailed costs will be only be known upon obtaining a
satisfactory planning permission and receiving (and approving) a tender
for the construction contract. In respect of a) Members will at the
appropriate time have access to this information. In respect of b) your
are asking for information that is not held and which requires
supposition.

 

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Now that the detailed planning application has been
submitted, could you confirm a breakdown of the building costs for the new
headquarters at Honiton: [4]https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online...

Your answer 8: Anticipated costs are exempt from disclosure under Reg
12(5)(e)

>>> My response: Your constant reference to this Regulation evades the
point that, in order to arrive at well-informed decisions, Members of the
Council and interested members of the public need access to information so
as to judge any decision as sound. The intention of this Regulation cannot
have been to stymie informed debate and proper decision-making. It is
primarily for this reason that I have asked for an Internal Review.

EDDC response: It is not understood what decision making you are referring
to. To clarify though, build costs would not be relevant to any planning
decision. As above, Members will have sight of this information at the
appropriate time.

 

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > My second question was: “What work has been carried
out by the District Council to determine the value of the proposed new
headquarters at Heathpark, Honiton once they have been built?” To which
you answered: “We will be in a better position to advise on the value once
a design has been prepared and accepted.”

> In which case, now that “a design has been prepared and accepted”, could
you provide me with details as to “what work has been carried out by the
District Council to determine the value of the proposed new headquarters
at Heathpark, Honiton once they have been built”.

Your answer 9: As per our response to you in April 2016, our response to
this request is as follows: No further work will be carried out until a
design has been finalised and planning permission granted.

>>> My response: Again, I find this evasive. You actually stated that you
would “be in a better position to advise on the value once a design has
been prepared and accepted.” And now that “a design has been prepared and
accepted” you still refuse to provide the information; the value of a
property can be estimated by professionals without it having first to
achieve planning permission. Could you please provide me with your own
estimation of the value of the completed property – as this will be
joining your list of assets which you will have to account for. Thank you.

EDDC response: At this moment in time, a specific valuation of the
new-build premises on the basis of the design submitted to obtain planning
permission is not held. The Council is not obliged to generate the
information you have requested.

 

COSTS OF BORROWING:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide a breakdown of how each of these
figures was reached – namely: £2.1m, £4.6m and £5.99m. What does each of
these figures represent? How are these seeming discrepancies to be
explained?

Your answer 10: The link above to the March 2015 Cabinet report includes
an estimated cost of borrowing

>>> My response: You have failed to provide an answer, as the link to
documentation you mention does not refer to all three figures. Could you
please explain the differences between the three figures and answer my
questions in full. Thank you.

EDDC response: This is a request for an explanation of how figures have
been calculated and, as you know, we are not obliged to provide
explanation. Nonetheless, the three reports (links for which you have
provided) do, in our view, explain what the three figures represent.
Notwithstanding what I have just said, and in order to try and be helpful
I can confirm the following;

- The £2.1m represents the amount of borrowing required over the 20 year
period once the short term borrowing has been repaid following receipt of
the capital sum from the sale of the Knowle.

- The £4.8m (while you have referred to £4.6m we think you mean £4.8m)
refers to the additional running costs of the Knowle as compared to a
purpose built building over a 20 year period.

- The £5.99m is shown in our capital programme for 16/17 as it represents
the proportion of the overall short term borrowing estimated to be
required in 2016/17.

In answer to the last question, there is no discrepancy as they all
represent different things.

 

STAFF LEVELS AND COSTS:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm that “the number of staff
employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”. What is
the “current level” of staff? Why is there a seeming discrepancy between
the 2012 and the 2014 figures? How many staff will be stationed at Honiton
and Exmouth? How many will be stationed at “another location”?

Your answer 11: There will be 220 desks at Heathpark and 90 based in
Exmouth ? staff work with different workstyles which are fixed office
workers, mobile, flexible or homeworker and it is not necessary to have a
1:1 ratio of desk to staff.

>>> My response: Again, you have failed to provide an answer to my
question. I did not ask how many desks will be provided. I asked how many
staff will be on your payroll – as you yourself have referred to “the
number of staff”. Could you please answer my questions. Thank you.

Furthermore, the Council stated in March 2015: “1.21 Some proposals have
been made by third parties that suggest that the Council could somehow
squeeze into the rear buildings leaving the former hotel to be redeveloped
into flats. This is financially and operationally impractical.”
[5]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110...

As you have referred to the number of desks in your current answer, would
the figure of 220 desks ‘squeeze into the rear buildings’ at Knowle? I
would be grateful for an answer as this is both relevant and follows on
from your own methodology. Thank you.

EDDC response: We do not hold information about how many staff we will
employ in the future. We provide monthly updates on our headcount figure
online here
[6]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-demo....
We do not hold the information as to whether ‘220 desks would ‘squeeze
into the rear buildings’ at the Knowle’.

 

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you also confirm that the costs of “staff
employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”. What are
these anticipated to amount to?

Your answer 12: We are unclear what information you are seeking here and
would ask you to clarify this point please.

>>> My response: To clarify: What are the current costs of staff employed
at the current HQ? And what do you anticipate the future costs of staff
employed at the new HQs (“the new facility”)? Thank you.

EDDC response: We do not hold information on predicted future staffing
levels. Your original request did not ask for detail of current staffing
costs. While it did not form part of your initial request, and in an
attempt to be helpful, here is a link to the Council’s outturn report for
2015/16
[[7]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1732386/08...
– item 11]  which gives the overall staff revenue costs. This has not been
broken down to just staff based at the Knowle offices as this would place
an unreasonable time burden on us to do so.

 

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you provide cost details with regard to the
Work Smart arrangements. What are the costs of employing further IT and
other specialists to facilitate and implement the Work Smart arrangements?
Have these costs been included in the total ‘overall budget’ for the
relocation project?

Your answer 13: No information held

>>> My response: In the accounts for 2015-16, which I have examined, there
are several entries for “Seashell Communications, Teignmouth: Work smart:
How to work better: working from home: hot desking” etc. There have been
other Worksmart meetings, for example, at Exmouth Town Hall
[8]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1468420/6-...
(point 1.2). I would like you to provide me with the full costs with
regard to the Work Smart arrangements please, as these references are only
a part of those. Thank you.

EDDC response: As outlined previously, no information is held with regard
to specific costs associated with developing, or employment of additional
ICT specialists to facilitate, the Work Smart arrangements. The figures
you have seen in our accounts relate to payments made to a consultant who
helped to co-ordinate a series of workshops for staff to explain to them
the Worksmart arrangements.

 

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm that a redundancy policy with
regard to the relocation project has been formulated. What costs have been
factored in for redundancies for those unwilling or unable to move
offices, for recruitment of replacement staff and for compensation to
staff who stay with regard to additional commuting time and costs?

>>> My response: You have failed to answer this. Could you please provide
an answer. Thank you.

EDDC response: Again, this is a question rather than a request for
specific information. I confirm that no information is held which would
constitute a redundancy policy for the re-location project. The issue of
compensation is currently being discussed with Unison and a position being
formulated. Accordingly that information is exempt from disclosure under
Reg 12(4)(d) of the Environmental Information Regulations on the basis
that it is material in the course of completion. In respect of the sum for
compensation, I can confirm that there is a provisional sum within the
budget for this cost but the actual figure is commercially confidential at
this stage and therefore exempt from disclosure under Reg 12(5)(e).

 

ENERGY COSTS:

MY ORIGINAL QUESTION > Could you confirm the floor area of the current
site at Knowle. [See my FOI request “Total floor area of Knowle”
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t... ]

> Could you confirm that the calculations for energy and other operating
cost savings for the relocation project were calculated on the total floor
area of the Knowle site (7,722 m2) and not on the total floor area of the
Honiton and Exmouth sites (approx. 3570 m2). [See my own calculations
above.]

> Could you confirm that the approaches and methods to calculate energy
and other operating costs used for the Honiton and Exmouth sites have been
the same as those used by Davis Langdon [now AECOM] to calculate energy
and other operating costs at Knowle.
[10]http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca... Are the same criteria and
standards as specified in the 2013 report the same as those being applied
to both the new Honiton and the refurbished Exmouth sites? I would like
access to the comparative data.

Your answer 17: 7,722m2 as provided to you previously in January 2014

>>> My response: You did indeed provide a response to my request on 29th
January 2014
[11]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...
; however, I am still awaiting a response to a further request
[12]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

EDDC response: We are not aware that you are awaiting further information
in respect of this request which has been closed on our system. If you do
require further specific detail, please let us know in relation to that
request.

 

I hope these comments are helpful.

If you remain dissatisfied with our response to your request for
information, you have the right to refer matters to the Information
Commissioner [13]www.ico.org.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

HENRY GORDON LENNOX

 

Strategic Lead - Legal, Licensing and Democratic Services

East Devon District Council

Tel: 01395 517401

Ext: 2601

Email: [email address]

 

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References

Visible links
1. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06...
2. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca
3. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1622700/06
4. https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online
5. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/939266/110...
6. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-demo...
7. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1732386/08...
8. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1468420/6-...
9. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t
10. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca
11. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...
12. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...
13. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Dear Mr Gordon Lennox,

Thank you for your response of 29th September.

With regard to the ‘sheer number of queries’ I had put to you, I had decided to group together all my questions on costs with regard to the relocation project, rather than provide you with individual FOI requests on each area of costs. I have previously chosen to separate requests which could otherwise have been gathered together – for example, with regard to gas and electricity bills; or reports by consultants Alder King and Kensington Taylor. On the other hand, because the issue of ‘costs’ is crucial to any project, I felt that all these specific points should be provided under the umbrella of one single FOI request.

If I might address your own most recent responses following my request for an Internal Review:

OVERALL BUDGET:
You state that “This is not a request for recorded information but a question regarding a projection about future costs.” My understanding, however, is that the compilation of a ‘budget’ is essentially the determination of ‘future costs’: that X will cost so many £s; that cash has to be set aside for any planned expenditures. Any future expenditures, as well as any contingencies, have to be anticipated and costed: it is therefore not unreasonable to ask for such information. In which case, I am baffled at your response: “I confirm that no information is held in response to this part of your request.”

OVERRUN COSTS:
You fail to address the question I raise under this heading: “Could you clarify how the amended Construction Timetable, “To reflect the revision of the planning timetable” and the “further three months within the project timetable”, will affect costs.”

EXMOUTH:
My questions on Exmouth are simply asking for specific details on one area from your budgeting calculations, as referred to above.
The regular excuse the District Council has provided me in order to avoid publishing information which should otherwise be available for public scrutiny – that it is “commercially confidential” – frankly beggars belief, as the use of public monies has to be made accountable to the rate-paying public – and not simply to “Member scrutiny” and only once the Council deems it “appropriate”. Furthermore, the revelation of any cost overruns would more than likely be embarrassing to the Council, rather than to any “commercial” body. The EIRs exist to enable the proper publication of information, and not to help a public body avoid any potential reputational damage.
To conclude: my request for access to detailed specifications and cost calculations are a necessary part of my enquiries as to how the Council budgets the spending of public monies – and should therefore be open to public scrutiny.

HONITON:
As the Council will be making its own planning application to build at Honiton, I hardly think that it is “supposition” to say that calculations of the cost of the final build will already have been made – and in some detail, as we are now well beyond the April date when you said that the detailed build costs “are not yet available”. Of course, build costs are not included in any planning decision – but the Council will have made calculations of the cost as part of its overall relocation project planning process.
As regards “decision-making”, I refer both to the “decision” to apply for planning permission as reported in the press http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/eddc... and to the “decision” the Council’s planning committee will have to make on this planning application when it is brought forward. And, again, whilst I appreciate that the build costs will not be part of the application, Members will have a duty and the public will have an interest in scrutinising the cost of any plans to build a new Council Headquarters at Honiton as part of any application.
Finally, you stated earlier in April that you would “be in a better position to advise on the value once a design has been prepared and accepted” – and yet, despite this design having been prepared for the planning application, you now refuse to “advise on the value”.

COSTS OF BORROWING:
If all three figures ‘represent different things’ then the presentation of these figures as reported are extremely misleading to say the least.
On 17th July 2013, the Council states that “The option to move would use …, if required, prudential borrowing up to a maximum of £4.8M” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183338/ca...
On 25th March 2015, the Council states that “To make the move to modern offices £2.1m of long-term borrowing was needed” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1464854/25...
And on 8th June 2016, the Council states that “The 2016/17 borrowing requirement is made up as follows: … £5,990,000 Office Relocation” http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1732386/08...
The press, the public and Members will have been led to believe that the costs of borrowing to allow for relocation are anything between £2m and £6m. You state that you “are not obliged to provide explanation” and yet in my original question I simply asked for a more detailed “breakdown of how each of these figures was reached” as these are very substantial figures which have, in turn, been used to justify Council policy – and which, as a rate-payer and elector, I am absolutely entitled to ask for.

STAFF LEVELS AND COSTS: CURRENT AND FUTURE
Again, you avoid answering my original question: “Could you confirm that “the number of staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”.”
As with most of my requests as part of this FOI enquiry, I am simply asking for clarification with regards to policy and comment from the District Council. In this respect, I asked for confirmation of your own statement, namely, that the costs of “staff employed in the new facility will remain at the current level”. I am simply asking for the evidence which supports this claim that District Council intends to maintain staffing costs for its “new facility”. Namely: how much is the “current level” of staffing costs in comparison to the costs of staff who will be “employed at the new facility”? The District Council has stated that the staff costs for “the new facility” will “remain at the current level” – and yet you contradict this assertion by now stating that you “do not hold information on predicted staff levels” and that you do not have the numbers for “just staff based at the Knowle offices”.
As for the claim that “1.21 Some proposals have been made by third parties that suggest that the Council could somehow squeeze into the rear buildings leaving the former hotel to be redeveloped into flats. This is financially and operationally impractical.” – the Council cannot on the one hand state that a claim is “financially impractical” and yet on the other state that is unable to provide the evidence that it is so. The Council has stated something and I simply wish to have the corroborating data.

STAFF LEVELS AND COSTS: WORK SMART
I am again baffled that you state that “no information is held” with regard to another key foundation for the move to a new HQ – namely, that the District Council will be able to introduce “new and efficient working practices”. To quote from a press release from 2015:
“The costs of heating, maintaining and repairing Knowle and converting it to accommodation fit for new ways of working are high – and would mean spending money on an asset with no value…
“Fundamental to the move is EDDC’s desire to move away from traditional working practices that are both expensive and wasteful. Investing in the working environment, technology, business processes and flexible working practices will realise the benefits of lower operating costs, high productivity and better services for our residents.
“The council’s Worksmart approach will help it to move away from traditional ways of desk-bound working. New ways of working mean that increasingly work will take place at the most effective locations respecting the needs of the task, the customer, the individual and the team. Properly equipped mobile officers will be able to operate more efficiently; the use of surgeries across the district will continue to manage local demand; and an improving website, plus other applications, will offer a greater number of online transactional services.”
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/news/2015/03/cou... and http://www.trinitymatters.co.uk/index.ph...
You state in your latest reply that “no information is held with regard to specific costs associated with developing, or employment of additional ICT specialists to facilitate, the Work Smart arrangements.” This was only one part of my question.
However, my initial request asked the following: “Could you provide cost details with regard to the Work Smart arrangements.” This was the context to the further questions of “What are the costs of employing further IT and other specialists to facilitate and implement the Work Smart arrangements? Have these costs been included in the total ‘overall budget’ for the relocation project?”
I had asked for information about the costs for the Work Smart project, which is clearly key to the District Council’s relocation project, as stated in the citations above. I would have liked you to provide evidence that “Investing in the working environment, technology, business processes and flexible working practices will realise the benefits of lower operating costs, high productivity and better services for our residents” – and “the council’s Worksmart approach” is, as stated above, clearly fundamental to this.

STAFF LEVELS AND COSTS: REDUNDANCY POLICY
Finally, you again state that, on the one hand, “no information is held” and, on the other, that any information that you do have is “exempt from disclosure under the EIRs”. As for the latter, any such basic costs as staffing should not be subject to exemption: these figures should be made available to the public and councillors in order to make informed judgements as to the feasibility or otherwise of, specifically, the relocation project. Simply by stating that these key costs are “material in the course of completion” and that they are “commercially confidential at this stage and therefore exempt from disclosure” flies in the face of democratic accountability, the basic principles of transparency and the due processes of scrutiny and oversight.

ENERGY COSTS: FLOOR AREA
The separate request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t is currently being dealt with by the ICO.
You have not addressed this question: “Could you confirm that the calculations for energy and other operating cost savings for the relocation project were calculated on the total floor area of the Knowle site (7,722 m2) and not on the total floor area of the Honiton and Exmouth sites (approx. 3570 m2).”
And you have not addressed these questions: “Could you confirm that the approaches and methods to calculate energy and other operating costs used for the Honiton and Exmouth sites have been the same as those used by Davis Langdon [now AECOM] to calculate energy and other operating costs at Knowle.
[http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1183866/ca. [This link is dead.] “Are the same criteria and standards as specified in the 2013 report the same as those being applied to both the new Honiton and the refurbished Exmouth sites? I would like access to the comparative data.”

You refer to the ICO: I will be contacting them to ask for clarification.
Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Woodward