Grounds Maintenance Contract for Thetford

The request was partially successful.

Robert Whittaker

Dear Breckland District Council,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Cloverfield and the Willows Residents' Association (CAWRA), which represents this housing estate in Thetford. At a recent meeting there was some concern expressed over the maintenance of public areas on our estate by the Council's contractors. We would like to know the details of what should be being done, so we see if there are any issues that need to be raised.

We would therefore be grateful if you could supply us with a copy of the current Grounds' Maintenance contract(s) you have (including any relevant schedules, appendices, etc.) for work such as mowing public grass areas, weed treatment, litter picking and emptying public waste bins in Thetford.

(I assume the following will already be covered by the contract, but in case not... We would be particularly interested in details of the areas covered and the required frequency of work. Additionally, we would like to know if there are any stipulations for the treatment of parts of grassed areas near posts, fences etc. Can these be left un-cut, do they have to be
strimmed, or is weed-killer permitted to be used? It would also be good to know of any policies to leave grassed areas to grow wild for parts of the year, e.g. to promote wild flowers and bees.)

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker
(Chair, CAWRA)

Feedback-Data, Breckland District Council

7 Attachments

 

 

Dear Mr Whittaker,

 

We are writing in respect of your enquiry for information held by the
Authority under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.  Please
find the information you requested attached.

If you are not satisfied with the way the authority has handled your
request, you may ask for an internal review.

Yours sincerely

FOI Team

Freedom of Information Team
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Feedback-Data, Breckland District Council

10 Attachments

 

Mr Whittaker.

We are writing in respect of your enquiry for information held by the
Authority under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.  Please
find the information you requested attached.

If you are not satisfied with the way the authority has handled your
request, you may ask for an internal review.

Yours sincerely

FOI Team

Freedom of Information Team
W: [1]www.breckland.gov.uk
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Robert Whittaker

Dear Breckland District Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Breckland District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Grounds Maintenance Contract for Thetford'. A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/g... . I would ask you to re-assess your use of the Section 43(2) exemption, and ensure it applies to all of the requested information that you decided to withhold. Specifically:

1/ No explanation has been given as to how releasing further parts of the contract would prejudice either BDC or Serco's commercial interests. If you wish to maintain your reliance on this exemption, please provide further details of the harm you anticipate would be caused.

2/ You will see in my original request that I asked for a copy of the whole contract. It appears you may have provided only the sections I said I was particularly interested in, rather than the whole contract minus the parts you deem to be commercially sensitive under Section 43(2). I find it hard to believe that s43(2) would apply to the whole of the rest of the contract, and it is just a coincidence that those sections are the only ones that can be released. Moreover, even if some other sections contained some sensitive content, I can't imagine that divulging e.g. the headings (or a table of contents) would cause any commercial harm. Thus these (and any other parts that would not cause significant harm) should be supplied too. For each other part that is withheld under s43(2), I would expect a justification in terms of the specific harm that could be caused by releasing that part.

3/ In particular, I note that you have not supplied any maps or descriptions of the specific grassed areas to be cut and their types, nor the locations of bins to be emptied. These are presumably included either as part of the contract or as schedules / appendices to it. Please either release this information or explain why an exemption applies. (Note that you have previously provided me with a copy of "Litter and Dog Bins Running Total.xlsx" giving details of bin locations. So if that was the information provided to the contractor, then there is no need to supply it again, but please confirm if that is the case.)

4/ In the extracts you have supplied, the section numbers appear to have been changed. (In most, the numbering starts at section 1, subsection 1.1, then 1.1.1 etc.) Could you please supply a copy with the correct numbers in place. Since automatic numbers can behave strangely when copying and pasting between Word Documents, I would suggest converting the whole contract document to a PDF file, and then redacting the exempted content from there.

5/ The "Bees Policy" you mention would appear to have a material impact on the grass cutting requirements specified in the contract, to the point of it being effectively an amendment/revision of the contract. I believe that details of what you have instructed the contractor regarding this policy would therefore be caught by my original request. Please therefore consider releasing this information.

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker
(Chair, CAWRA)

Dear Breckland District Council,

I am writing to you in relation to FOI request BFOI 010814, which you responded to on 6th July 2021. I was not completely happy with your response and I requested an internal review on 27th July. Unfortunately, I have yet to hear anything back from you about this. A full history of the request can be found online at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/g... .

I would be grateful if you could confirm you have received and are actioning my request for an internal review (it can be found at the above URL if not). Please also provide an estimated time for your response. Note that the Cloverfield and the Willows Residents' Association (CAWRA) will be holding its next monthly meeting on 16th September, so it would be useful to have your full response before then.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Whittaker
(Chair, CAWRA)

Feedback-Data, Breckland District Council

5 Attachments

Dear Mr Whittaker,

 

The Council can confirm that we did not receive your previous request for
an internal review.

 

Please take this as acknowledgement that we have received this request. We
will conduct an internal review response within 20 working days (7 Oct)

 

Yours sincerely

FOI Team

Freedom of Information Team
W: [1]www.breckland.gov.uk
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Environmental Information Regulations 2004. If you have contacted the
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Feedback-Data, Breckland District Council

5 Attachments

Dear Mr Whittaker

We are writing further to email acknowledging your request for an internal
review.

We regret that we are unable to send you a full response to your request
within 20 working days. We can assure you that we are dealing with your
request and we will send you a full reply as soon as we can. We now aim to
send you a full reply by 22 Oct.

If you have any questions about the handling of your information request
in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely

FOI Team

Freedom of Information Team
W: [1]www.breckland.gov.uk
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Feedback-Data, Breckland District Council

11 Attachments

 

Dear Mr Whittaker,

 

Please find the response to your internal review.

Yours sincerely

FOI Team

Freedom of Information Team
W: [1]www.breckland.gov.uk
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Email disclaimer:
The information contained in this email is confidential and intended only
for the person or organisation to which it is addressed. If you have
received it by mistake, please disregard and notify the sender
immediately. Unauthorised disclosure or use of such information may be a
breach of legislation or confidentiality and the content may be legally
privileged. Any improper dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying
of this email is strictly prohibited. Emails sent from and received by
employees of Breckland District Council may be monitored. They may also be
disclosed to other people under legislation, particularly the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018 and the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004. If you have contacted the
Council for a service any personal data you share will be used to help you
access its services, or to answer your enquiry in line with our Privacy
Policy. For full details of your rights please visit our website at
www.breckland.gov.uk. Unless this email relates to Breckland District
Council business it will be regarded by the Council as personal and will
not be authorised by or sent on behalf of the Council.

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Dear Breckland Council,

Many thanks for your latest response and the additional information you have provided. This is most helpful, even if it is not everything I requested.

However, I am slightly confused by your statement that there is no map showing the locations that are subject to the grounds maintenance work. The spreadsheet "Appendix 10 GM Bill of Quantities Thetford.xlsx" that you have supplied surely would not give the contractor enough information to be able to correctly identify that areas that they should be maintaining. For example, looking at row 7, how would they be expected to identify the 56 "GRASS" areas occupying a total of 14125.27 m^2 when the only location information is "ASH CLOSE (NORTH) THETFORD"? Looking at rows 45 and 46, both "GRASS" and "GRASS_WILDLIFE_WILDFLOWER" are listed at the same "WATERMEADOWS" location; how would they now which bits of grass are which? Are you sure that the contractor has not been given any further maps or some other form of location information (e.g. GIS shapefiles -- which I would regard as a form of map) to allow them to identify the areas they are to maintain? If there is any additional location information held, I would be grateful if you could supply it. If not, perhaps you could explain how the contractor manages to identify the areas they need to maintain.

Would you also be able to explain the meaning of the different "Feature Type" values in the "Appendix 10 GM Bill of Quantities Thetford.xlsx" spreadsheet that you supplied? I am wondering what exactly "GRASSCRETE" is, and why there appear to be no "GRASS" areas listed for the Cloverfield estate, despite a number existing in reality. Could you also confirm which, if any, of "WATERMEADOWS", "WATERMEADOWS (EAST)" and "WATERMEADOWS (WEST)" is the Breckland-owned land area between the Cloverfield Estate and the river? If none are, then is this land maintained as part of the contract, and where does this land appear on the spreadsheet?

Finally, with regard to your new claim of an exemption under EIR, I do not agree with your conclusion that the information is exempt. (I fail to see any significant economic interest that is being protected by withholding the majority of the contract. See the ICO's guidelines at https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio... and in particular paragraph 63.) However, there is no need for you to respond on this point now. Since you have completed your internal review process, I now need to decide whether to appeal your refusal by requesting a s50 decision from the Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Whittaker
(Chair, CAWRA)

Feedback-Data, Breckland District Council

Breckland District Council acknowledges receipt of your request for information received on 17 November 2021 19:24.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the EIR/ Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party.

If appropriate, the information may be provided in paper copy, normal font size. If you require alternative formats, e.g. language, audio, large print, etc. then please let us know.

For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions which may prevent release of the information you have requested. There will be an assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information will not be released. You will be informed if this is the case, including your rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to release the information to you. You will be informed if this is the case.

Yours sincerely
FOI Team
Freedom of Information Team
W: www.breckland.gov.uk
  

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