Dear Wyre Borough Council,
I am writing to you to request the following information under the Freedom of Information Act:
1) Can the council confirm their current number of Long Term Empty Properties as of the 8th May (those domestic properties which have been empty for six months or older)
2) What work is the council currently undertaking or planning to undertake around reducing their long term empty properties in 2019?
3) During 2018 did you undertake any work around reducing your Long Term Empty Properties. If you did was this done using internal resource or a third party?
4) If yes is the answer to question three, did the council review every single long term property
5) Does the reduction of empty homes in the council area form part of your Housing strategy?
6) Does the council have a budget in place to help support the reduction of empty properties?
7) How much did the council spend on temporary accommodation during 2018?
8) Does the council offer financial support /loans to Long Term Empty property owners to help them bring properties back into use?
Thank you for your request.
This response constitutes a refusal notice in accordance with section 17(5) of the Freedom of Information Act.
I can confirm that Wyre Council holds the information you have requested. However we are not releasing this information to you since we consider the following exemption applies to it..
S31(1)(a) (Law Enforcement) applies to this information as a result of the case EA/2011/007 dated 22nd January 2013 where the First Tier Tribunal decided that the addresses of empty residential and commercial properties were exempt from disclosure pursuant to this section of the Freedom of Information Act. This is a qualified exemption therefore we have had to balance the public interest in withholding the information against the interest in favour of disclosure.
The full decision can be found at: http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB...
Factors in favour of disclosure
Whilst the Local Authority have a duty to provide information under the Act and there is a public interest in disclosing details of vacant properties to try and bring these properties back into use, we feel identification of these properties could prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.
Factors in favour of non-disclosure
The Council also have an obligation ensuring information given out does not lead to an increase in crime which has an indirect/direct impact on others. Therefore we have considered the following:
? An increase in crimes such as fly tipping, squatting, criminal damage.
? The cost of securing properties to prevent property stripping, squatting, criminal damage.
? The impact on local police resources and our own resources, including additional cost to the public purse.
? The impact on those directly affected and on a local community in the vicinity of a "problem" property due to any the factors mentioned.
In considering the two factors the Council have decided the relatively small weight in the public interest in disclosure in our view does not come close to equalling the public interest in preventing the categories of crime we have identified. Therefore the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure and the Council are therefore entitled to refuse the information you have requested under S31(1)(a)
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: Senior Solicitor Wyre Borough Council Civic Centre Breck Road Poulton le Fylde Lancashire FY6 7PU.
Please remember to quote reference number 101008360899 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.
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