Fishing areas owned by the council and clubs

Simone Barrett-White made this Freedom of Information request to Rother 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 partially successful.

Simone Barrett-White

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please could you supply, in electronic (non-proprietary) format, the map coordinates of all fishing areas both under control of the council and those of private clubs known to the council.

Also, could you supply the dates during which these grounds are closed. If there have been any consultations about these grounds with third parties, could you also include these in the response.

If there has been disposal of council fishing grounds to private enterprise over the last two decades, could you outline details of the sale, how it was transacted and conditions the council set.

Yours faithfully,

Lynda Crawford, Rother District Council

Dear Ms Barrett-White
I refer to your request regarding fishing areas owned by Council.

Under section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, a request for information must comply with three requirements. It must:
(a) be in writing,
(b) state the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence, and
(c) describes the information requested.

After initial consideration, this request appears to comply with requirements (a) and (c) but it does not comply with requirement (b) because you do not provide an address for correspondence. We are entitled to this even if the request is made by e-mail and you ask us for a reply by e-mail, and we are able to comply.

Under section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 we are not obliged to comply with a request for information if the request is vexatious, and where we have previously complied with a request for information which was made by any person, we are not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between compliance with the previous request and the making of the current request. The Information Commissioner has advised that a request may be regarded as vexatious if it:
• clearly does not have any serious purpose or value;
• is designed to cause disruption or annoyance;
• has the effect of harassing the public authority; or
• can otherwise fairly be characterised as obsessive or manifestly
unreasonable.

Unless we knew your real name and real address it would be more difficult for us to determine whether your request was vexatious or repeated. For instance, unless you are a professional journalist or researcher, your request would be less likely to have any serious purpose or value if you do not live in this District.

At the bottom of your e-mail you say that any reply will be published on the Internet. With reference to that, would you please note that the Act does not require us to consent to such publication and therefore, when you have supplied your address for correspondence, any response would be personal to yourself and no consent to publish it, for instance on a web site, is given. Any application for consent to re-use information will be considered under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005, but if consent is given a charge may be made to you. Please feel free, however, to display this response on your website.

Since the coming into force of the Act we have processed over 400 separate direct requests from people who wrote letters, sent e-mails (with their name and address) to [Rother District Council request email] or used our website. In the majority of these cases we have been able to supply the information requested within the statutory time limit. We take seriously our obligation to provide advice and assistance to people who make genuine requests for information. If your request is not vexatious or repeated, then I would invite you to make your request to us direct, complying with section 8 of the Act. I assure you that having regard to the Data Protection Act 1998 we do not divulge the names or addresses of people who make requests for information.

You may use our internal complaints procedure if you are dissatisfied. If you are still dissatisfied you may appeal to the Information Commissioner. Please contact Anne Bruin, Customer Services Manager, if you wish to complain.

David Edwards
Interim Solicitor

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Simone Barrett-White

Dear Lynda,

Thanks for your reply. I correspondingly went to look at section 8 of the Act, and can't find anywhere that says you need my postal address. (Indeed, there is even guidance to this effect on the DCA website, stating I do not need to supply such information.)

The other issues that Mr Edwards states:

• clearly does not have any serious purpose or value;
• is designed to cause disruption or annoyance;
• has the effect of harassing the public authority; or
• can otherwise fairly be characterised as obsessive or manifestly unreasonable.

I don't think apply. If you think my request falls under any of these reasons, or indeed you consider it 'vexatious', please could you outline your reasoning as to why this conclusion has been reached.

I also take exception to:

'For instance, unless you are a professional journalist or researcher, your request would be less likely to have any serious purpose or value if you do not live in this District.'

which seems to imply that the 'ordinary' taxpayer in the Rother District Council area is somehow less entitled to make FoI requests than a journalist or researcher. Who deems the request to be serious or not? I find this sneering comment to be offensive.

I look forward to you actually dealing with my request,

Yours sincerely,

Lynda Crawford, Rother District Council

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Dear Ms Barrett-White

I refer to your request received on 24 July 2008 about fishing areas under control of Council.

It has not been established that an e-mail address is an "address for correspondence" for the purposes of section 8 (1)(b). I am awaiting guidance from the Information Commissioner.

In the meanwhile, I am concerned that treating such request is invalid is creating a false impression about this Council, and there is no point in withholding information that is easily supplied without placing significant burdens on the Council, so we will comply with this request on a voluntary, without prejudice, basis.

The Council does not and never has had any fishing areas under their control and therefore no disposals have been made to third parties. With regard to private fishing clubs please see the attached document which gives details of local fishing clubs and details of a website www.fishe.net which has a map showing the location of fishing areas in East Sussex.

You may use our internal complaints procedure if you are dissatisfied. If you are still dissatisfied you may appeal to the Information Commissioner. Please contact Anne Bruin, Team Leader - Customer Services, if you wish to complain.

Yours sincerely
David Edwards
Interim Solicitor
01424 787840

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