High Leigh Garden Village - Multiple FOI requests

Thomas Coward made this Freedom of Information request to Broxbourne Borough 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 refused by Broxbourne Borough Council.

Dear Broxbourne Borough Council,

Where some information requested is already published online in a publicly accessible area please do not provide it again, such as on your planning portal.

Multiple requests within a single item of correspondence are separate requests for the purpose of section 12. This was confirmed by the Information Tribunalin the case of Ian Fitzsimmons v ICO & Department for Culture, Media and Sport (EA/2007/0124, 17 June 2008).
Each of the numbered requests below are to be considered separate FOI requests.

As each request below is a separate FOI request each number should be considered separate for the purposes of FOIA including but not limited to section 12 :

1. When is construction for High Leigh Garden Village going to begin?

2. Please provides all meeting notes and transcripts regarding High Leigh Garden village carried out at Broxbourne council.

3. Please provide all emails between the council or council employee and any other person or organisation that contains information about High Leigh Garden village. Please note private email accounts can be subject to a FOI when they hold information on behalf of a public authority. I suggest you search the body or subject of the email servers for ‘High Leigh Garden Village’ to keep cost down.

4. Please provide information on the total cost of construction of High Leigh Garden Village.

5. Please provide all information, emails or documents on Chief Executive electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village.

6. Please provide all information, emails or documents on the Director of Finance electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village.

7. Please provide all information, emails or documents on the Director of Environmental Services electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village.

8. Please provide all information, emails or documents on the Head of Legal Services electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village.

9. Please provide all information, emails or documents on the Head of Planning & Development electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village.

10. Please provide all information, emails or documents on Head of Financial Planning & Reporting electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village.

11. Please provide all information, emails or documents on Head of Property Services electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Coward

Dear Broxbourne Borough Council,

This FOI is currently waiting for a response from Broxbourne Borough Council, they must respond promptly and normally no later than 29 August 2017.

If you do not respond by 29th August 2017 you may be breaking the law.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Coward

Freedom of Information, Broxbourne Borough Council

Dear Mr Coward

Thank you for your request for information, our reference 4640, received on 28/7/2017.

Your request has now been considered and the Council's response can be found below.

1.) As you will be aware, even though a requester may ask for information held by a public authority, it does not necessarily mean an authority is always obliged to provide the information requested if they fall within the exemptions set out in the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We can confirm that the Council is in possession of the majority of information requested (information that we do not hold is dealt in a separate point below) but is not obliged to comply with the requests within your email of 28/7/2017 as they fall under the exemption within s.12 of the Freedom of information Act 2000. This exemption states that a local authority can refuse a request on the basis that they would exceed the cost limit set by the Act by complying with a request or a linked series of request from the same person or group. The cost limit for complying with a request for a public authority is set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, Regulation 3, and is £450. The hourly rate used to calculate the cost is £25. This equates to 18 hours.

When a Local Authority is estimating the appropriate limit and whether it is likely to be exceeded it can include the costs of complying with 2 or more requests as long as the conditions in Regulation 5 of fees regulations can be satisfied. These are:

a) The request is made by 1 person or by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign.
b) The requests are made for the same or similar information.
c) The requests received by the authority were within any period of 60 consecutive working days. A public body can include all of the costs of related requests.

Council officers were asked to estimate the time it would take to respond fully to the information that you requested. It was found that the time to taken to search for "emails or documents on" numerous staff members' "electronic devices or their data storage systems that pertains to High Leigh Garden Village", and "providing all emails between the council or council employees and any other person or organisation that contains information about High Leigh Garden village", along with the process of extracting and collating the information to form a response would exceed 18 hours' work.

We therefore estimate that the cost of complying with the request by undergoing the manual process of extracting this information of searching through emails, extracting and preparing the information, sourcing documents and undertaking the same processes would take over 18 hours. By aggregating the costs/time taken to respond to the individual questions in the FOI request, it was found that the cost/time would exceed the appropriate limit of £450.

2. I note that in your email you have requested that each of your numbered requests are to be considered as separate FOI requests. In that regard, you have referred to the case of Ian Fitzsimmons v ICO & Department for Culture, Media and Sport (EA/2007/0124, 17 June 2008). The judgement in this case has been considered in detail and we would state as follows:

As you are aware, public authorities can aggregate two or more requests. It is correct that multiple requests within a single item of correspondence are separate requests for the purpose of s.12 but if these requests meet the conditions of regulation 5 then they can be aggregated.

Reg 5(2) of the Fees regulations requires that aggregated requests be requests that relate in “any extent” to the same or similar information. This is a wide test which should be considered on a case-by-case basis. This is set out in Paragraph 43 of the judgement in Ian Fitzsimmons v ICO & Department for Culture Media and Sport the tribunal, which states that ‘the test in regulation 5 of the fees Regulations seems to us to be very wide: the requests only need to relate to any extent to the same or similar information’.
Examples include where the requestor has expressly linked the requests, where there is an overreaching theme or common thread running between the requests.

You asked 11 questions in the emailed FOI request and the questions related to the same or similar information. We say this as the requests were in relation to High Leigh Garden Village and its construction and, except for the identity of each person asked in questions 3 and questions 5 to 11, all are the same or similar requests.

Given the wide remit in regulation 5 of the fees regulations, and for the reasons we have mentioned above, we believe that the questions in your request should be treated as one and aggregated when considering the cost/time it would take to form a response. The decisive detail is that each of the individual questions refers to the same or similar information.

You may wish to refine your request to narrow its scope to bring it within the appropriate limit. For example, you may wish to specify a much narrower timeframe, choose one type of documentation previously requested and/or choose fewer locations or staff members' drives and/or emails to search.

3. We are able to provide information for two of your requests:

i) When is construction for High Leigh Garden Village going to begin?
It is anticipated to start by the end of 2017

ii) Please provide information on the total cost of construction of High Leigh Garden Village.
The Council does not hold this information. The developers may be able to provide an answer.

If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request an internal review of our decision, you should write to the Communications section, Broxbourne Borough Council, Bishops’ College, Churchgate, Cheshunt, EN8 9XQ.

If your complaint is not resolved to your complete satisfaction, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Further information about your rights is available from the Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner's Office Wycliffe House Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF; Telephone: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 54 57 45; Website www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Tom Durham
Communications Officer | Broxbourne Borough Council
Bishops’ College | Churchgate | Cheshunt | EN8 9XQ

Tel: 01992 785555 ext.5531 | Web: www.broxbourne.gov.uk | Twitter: @BroxbourneBC

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and events at www.broxbourne.gov.uk/emailalerts

Dear Broxbourne Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Broxbourne Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'High Leigh Garden Village - Multiple FOI requests'.

It is unlikely that answering 2 simple questions has exceeded the cost ceiling.

Please state what additional information you will be able to provide within the cost ceiling.

The decision if aggregation should for the interest of section 12 will be for the ICO to decide after an internal review has taken place.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Coward

Dear Tom Durham & Broxbourne Council,

I have an additional question, as it concerns one of my original freedom of information requests I have posted it here for convenience.

Please could you provide some assistance and advice in helping me make one of my FOI requests compliant with the cost ceiling, namely the request for all meeting notes regarding High Leigh Garden Village.

Would a request for all electronic meeting notes regarding High Leigh Garden Village from 01/06/2016 to 01/09/2017 stay within the cost ceiling? If not then what, if any, information could be provided in this date range?

If no information can be provided, could you advise of some date ranges regarding electronic meeting notes pertaining to High Leigh Garden Village that would be within the cost ceiling?

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Coward

Broxbourne Borough Council

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your request for information. We are dealing with it under
the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000.

If we need any further information before fully responding to your request
we will let you
know. We will do this as soon as practicable and within 20 days.

You will receive the information requested within 20 working days unless
the Council
does not hold the information or there is a reason for it to be withheld.
I will write to you
in any event.
If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the service you receive in relation to your
request and wish to
make a complaint or request a review of our decision, you should write to
the
Communications section, Broxbourne Borough Council, Bishops’ College,
Churchgate
Cheshunt, EN8 9XQ.

If your complaint is not resolved to your complete satisfaction, you have
the right to
apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision.  Further information
about your
rights is available from the Information Commissioner at: Information
Commissioner's
Office Wycliffe House Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF; Telephone:
0303 123
1113 or 01625 54 57 45; Website [1]www.ico.org.uk.

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References

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Freedom of Information, Broxbourne Borough Council

Dear Mr Coward
Thank you for your email and the link which will inform our review.
We are in the process of an internal review and will come back to you as soon as possible.
Thanks
Tom Durham
Communications Officer | Broxbourne Borough Council
Bishops’ College | Churchgate | Cheshunt | EN8 9XQ

Tel: 01992 785555 | Web: www.broxbourne.gov.uk | Twitter: @BroxbourneBC

Sign up to receive emails about Council services
and events at www.broxbourne.gov.uk/emailalerts

Freedom of Information, Broxbourne Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Coward
The Council's internal review of its response to your FOI request, ref 4640, is complete.
Please find a decision notice attached to this email which explains how the result was reached.

I have also attached the Council's earlier response to the FOI for your ease of reference.

Should you wish to submit a further FOI request, using advice given in the response, then please get in touch. The guidance was as follows: 'You may wish to refine your request to narrow its scope to bring it within the appropriate limit. For example, you may wish to specify a much narrower timeframe, choose one type of documentation previously requested and/or choose fewer locations or staff members' drives and/or emails to search.'

If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request an internal review of our decision, you should write to the Communications section, Broxbourne Borough Council, Bishops’ College, Churchgate, Cheshunt, EN8 9XQ.

If your complaint is not resolved to your complete satisfaction, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Further information about your rights is available from the Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner's Office Wycliffe House Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF; Telephone: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 54 57 45; Website www.ico.org.uk

Yours sincerely

Tom Durham
Communications Officer | Broxbourne Borough Council
Bishops’ College | Churchgate | Cheshunt | EN8 9XQ

Tel: 01992 785555 | Web: www.broxbourne.gov.uk | Twitter: @BroxbourneBC

Sign up to receive emails about Council services
and events at www.broxbourne.gov.uk/emailalerts