Empty Properties

ian thompson made this Freedom of Information request to Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council.

Dear Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please can you provide a list of the empty properties within the borough

Yours faithfully,

ian thompson

Data Protection, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Thompson

I refer to your Freedom of Information request received 27 March 2017 requesting details of any empty property within the Trafford District. I can confirm that the Council holds this information.

Pursuant to section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Council must advise an applicant whether any particular exemptions apply to the provision of the information sought and the reasons for this.

In relation to empty properties, it is the Council’s opinion that the information you have requested is exempt under Section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  Pursuant to section 31, information held by a public authority is exempt if its release would prejudice or be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime. This exemption includes general crime prevention measures taken by a Local Authority and particularly safeguarding information about the physical security of buildings in the area.
 
The exemption under section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act is a qualified exemption, meaning that the public interest test must be applied in this instance.  Having applied the public interest test, the Council has concluded that the release of information pertaining to vacant properties in the District could lead to those properties becoming susceptible to damage or other criminal acts, including illegal habitation or facilitation of identity fraud.  The public interest test therefore favours non-disclosure of this information.

This is in line with the decision of the First-Tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) on 22 January 2013 in the matter of Voyias v The Information Commissioner and the London Borough of Camden (EA/2011/0007).

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to: Information Governance Manager, Trafford Council, Town Hall, Talbot Road StretfordM33 0TH or via email to [E-bost cais Trafford Council]

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance
Legal Services | Trafford Council | Trafford Town Hall | Talbot Road | Stretford | M32 0TH
Email: [email address]

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Dear Data Protection,

I am surprised and saddened by your response as i have received a different response by Cheshire East
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Yours sincerely,

ian thompson

Data Protection, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Thompson

Thank you for your email in which you expressed dissatisfaction with our response to your FOI, reference 4677.

Your request has now been passed for internal review. We aim to complete all internal reviews within 20 working days. We will notify you of the outcome of the review and, where appropriate, provide the requested information.

If you require any further information in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us

Kind regards

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Data Protection, Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Thompson
Further to your email of 31 March 2017, in which you expressed dissatisfaction with the handling of your request for information (ref. 4677), an internal review has been completed and I can provide you with the following response.

Your Original Request:
Please can you provide a list of the empty properties within the borough

Our Original Response:
S30(1)(a) exemption applied to information on empty properties.

Your Complaint:
I am surprised and saddened by your response as I have received a different response by Cheshire East
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Outcome of Internal Review:
Trafford Council maintains its position that the release of information about empty commercial property is exempt from disclosure under Section 31(1)(a).
The council also feels that disclosure of such information may pose a risk to health and safety and therefore also withholds the information under Section 38.
Data relating to privately owned property is considered personal data and therefore also withheld under S40(2)

Details:
Section 30(1)(a): As part of the review process we have considered the arguments put forward by the complainant in recent ICO decisions (Decision Notice FS50628943 - https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak..., and FS50628978 - https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...) , as well as the arguments put forward by each council. Trafford Council recognises that the ICO felt that public interest in these two cases favoured disclosure however that conclusion is based on the circumstances within the boroughs to which they relate. Trafford Council is currently working with partners, including Greater Manchester Police, to tackle illegal raves and car racing at empty units within certain parts of the borough. We have recently implemented a Public Space Protection Order linked to this issue. We share information on empty properties with the police in an attempt to combat this problem and feel that making such information available to the public would harm their, and our, efforts. We have consulted with partners when making this decision and they agree with our view. We therefore believe the public interest lies in withholding the information.

Section 38: It has also been determined that publishing data relating to empty properties may pose a risk to health and safety. If details of empty business premises is put into the public domain there is a risk that people will try to enter these premises, either to commit crime or for shelter/curiosity, and put themselves in danger.
As stated within the ICOs decision notices there are websites advising people on squatting in empty commercial premises, and paragraph 26 of the judgement in the remitted First-tier Tribunals decision in Voyias states that the Tribunal were “provided with sufficient evidence, in particular in material published by the ASS…to satisfy us that squatters do check available lists of empty properties and that the release of such a list by another council in response to a freedom of information request in the past had led to an increase in squatting”.
We believe that releasing the list will increase the likelihood of people entering the property, and that entering the property may pose a danger to those individuals. We therefore believe it is in the public interest to withhold this information for the purposes of Health and Safety.

Section 40(2): The provision of data by the owners of privately owned empty properties, is done so for the purposes of council tax relief only. The data subject would not expect this information to be shared publically and to do so would breach data protection legislation. This information is therefore withheld under S40(2).

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

The supply of information in response to a freedom of information request does not confer an automatic right to re-use the information. Under UK copyright law you can use any information supplied for the purposes of private study and non-commercial research without requiring permission. Similarly, information supplied can also be re-used for the purposes of news reporting. An exception to this is photographs.
For other forms of re-use, for example publishing the information, you would need the permission of the organisation or person who owns the copyright. In the case of information produced by government departments and agencies you can re-use the information under the Open Government Licence. For information about this please see http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/o...
If, however, the copyright is identified as belonging to somebody else, you will need to apply for permission. For information about how to obtain permission from a third party, please go to Intellectual Property Office’s website at www.ipo.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Kathryn Wright, Information Governance Officer
Legal Services | Trafford Council | Trafford Town Hall | Talbot Road | Stretford | M32 0TH
Email: [email address]
Tel: 0161 912 2526
[mobile number]
Fax: 0161 912 4294

Trafford Council is a well-performing, low-cost council delivering excellent services to make Trafford a great place to live, learn, work and relax. You can find out more about us by visiting www.trafford.gov.uk

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