Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
Please supply copies of ALL emails, faxes and letters to and from
council officer Anthony Bestwick that relate to the 2012- 2014 changes (including tree-felling, gorse burning, and changes to public Rights of Way) to
Grange Hill,West Kirby.
Dear Mr. Rundle,
Thank you for your request for information, shown below. Your request has
been facilitated under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
The Council does hold information which meets the parameters of your
request and we have given due consideration to Regulation 12(4)(e) of the
legislation, when considering releasing this information. Please see
additional information below:
(1) Subject to paragraphs (2), (3) and (9), a public authority may refuse
to disclose environmental information requested if—
(a) an exception to disclosure applies under paragraphs (4) or (5); and
(b) in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in
maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to
disclose information to the extent that
(e) the request involves the disclosure of internal communications.
This is a qualified exception, subject to the public interest test and it
is class rather than prejudice based; this means the sensitivity of the
information does not need to be considered.
The public interest factors for disclosure include the necessary
opportunity for the authority to be accountable for their work to the
public and how it utilises the public purse. When involved in the
decision making process, however, it is important that public authority
officers are allowed an opportunity for the free and frank exchange of
ideas. This is to ensure that all options are considered prior to any
formal publication or consultation. The public interest factors for
withholding this information are to protect this process. The ICO’s
guidance states that ‘public interest arguments should be focussed on
protecting the public authority’s private thinking space. Other arguments
will not be relevant to this exception.’
If these internal communications were to be released, officers may
understandably be reluctant to fully engage in future conversations as
each aspect could be open to public examination. The result of this is
that the discussion may not explore all possible options or give due
consideration to pertinent issues.
The role of a public authority officer comes with a certain degree of
autonomy within the parameters of the organisations stated policies and
procedures. It would simply be impractical for all actions to be
scrutinised by the public due to the adverse impact that this would have
on the role they are employed to carry out, and would therefore constitute
a misuse of public money.
The Council is therefore of the opinion that, due to the impact that
disclosure would have on our ability to efficiently conduct public
functions, the public interest for withholding the requested information
outweighs that of disclosure.
External communications between the Council and members of the public are
seen to be the personal information of the correspondents. This means data
which relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data
(Section 1(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998). I consider that there
would have been no expectation on behalf of the data subjects that this
information would be disclosed to a third party, and that the supply of
the information requested would enable individuals to be identified.
I therefore consider that this part of your request is exempt information
under R.12(3) of the Environmental Information Regulations. I consider
that the disclosure of the requested information would contravene the
first data protection principle, that personal data shall be processed
fairly and lawfully, and shall not be processed unless at least one of the
conditions in Schedule 2 of the Act is met. I do not consider that any of
the conditions in Schedule 2 would be met in this instance.
I have considered whether there is a legitimate public interest in
disclosure and balanced this against the rights of the individuals. This
is an absolute exemption and not subject to the public interest test.
I am therefore refusing your request for information under Regulations
12(4)(e) and 12(3) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. You
have the right under R.11 of the legislation to make representations to
the Council if it appears that the Regulations have not been adhered to.
To do so, please contact [Wirral Borough Council request email] where it will
be allocated for review.
If you are dissatisfied with this response to your review, you have the
right to complain to the Information Commissioner. The address is the
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk
Information and Central Services Manager Wirral Council
Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Grange Hill - DAMAGE TO BIODIVERSITY to be found on the hill.'.
You state that "Your request has been facilitated under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004".
Your response states that "the Council does hold information which meets the parameters of your request".
You then state that "I am therefore refusing your request for information under Regulations 12(4)(e) and 12(3) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004".
I note that your response fails to draw my attention to the requirements of the 'Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters' (the Aarhus Convention).
Why did you not inform me of my rights to Access to Information under the Aarhus Convention?
The United Kingdom is a P)arty to the Aarhus Convention an local authorities are obliged to follow the requirements of the Aarhus Convention.
The UK has a dualistic legal system, in terms of environmental law.
UK (Domestic) environmental legislation is required to meet the standards
of International Law (the Aarhus Convention).
I expect Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council to provide the information requested.
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