Leisure Centre operating costs

Andrew Strickland made this Freedom of Information request to Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council of their handling of this request.

Andrew Strickland

Dear Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council,

I am making this request under the legislation provided by the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I respectfully request that you provide me with the following:

1. Complete and accurate results from the recent 2014-2015 Survey on Gateshead leisure Facilities.

2. Daily operating costs, including staffing for;

a) Birtley Swimming Pool
b) Blaydon Swimming Pool
c) Dunston Swimming Pool
d) Gateshead Swimming Pool
e) Heworth Swimming Pool

3. Hourly operation costs, including staffing for;

a) Birtley Swimming Pool
b) Blaydon Swimming Pool
c) Dunston Swimming Pool
d) Gateshead Swimming Pool
e) Heworth Swimming Pool

4. Daily and hourly rates for Gateshead Council Leisure Centre Duty managers at the facilities listed above.

5. Daily and hourly rates for Gateshead Council Leisure Centre attendants and lifeguards at the facilities listed above.

6. Average numbers of swimmers swimming and average income generated during periods of public swimming at the following stated times at each of the facilities listed above:

Tuesday 1700 - 1900
Thursday 1700 - 1900
Saturday 0800 - 1000
Sunday 0900 - 1100

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Strickland

informationrights, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Strickland

I refer to the request, which you have made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for records held by this service.

Acknowledgement

Your request was received by this department on 27 March 2015.

A final decision on your request would normally be sent to you within 20 working days of receipt of your request. This means that you can expect to receive your decision by 28 April 2015.

There are some limited situations under the Freedom of Information Act, which could mean that the period for a final decision may be longer than the normal 20 working days. If this occurs in your request, we will promptly advise you in writing.

Should our final decision not reach you on time, please feel free to call the contact officer named above to discuss any problems that may have arisen.

Yours sincerely
Information Rights Officer

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informationrights, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Strickland

I refer to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and to your email to this service dated 27 March 2015.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, we have formally decided to grant some access to the records requested and accordingly they are as follows:

1. Complete and accurate results from the recent 2014-2015 Survey on Gateshead leisure Facilities.

Please see the attached Cabinet Report

2. Daily operating costs, including staffing for;

a) Birtley Swimming Pool
b) Blaydon Swimming Pool
c) Dunston Swimming Pool
d) Gateshead Swimming Pool
e) Heworth Swimming Pool

3. Hourly operation costs, including staffing for;

a) Birtley Swimming Pool
b) Blaydon Swimming Pool
c) Dunston Swimming Pool
d) Gateshead Swimming Pool
e) Heworth Swimming Pool

4. Daily and hourly rates for Gateshead Council Leisure Centre Duty managers at the facilities listed above.

5. Daily and hourly rates for Gateshead Council Leisure Centre attendants and lifeguards at the facilities listed above.

Questions 2-5
This information is exempt from disclosure under S43 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act as it is information that is commercially sensitive. The Council operates as a commercial organisation in providing services through its leisure facilities which the public and other organisations can buy if they want. In providing the services that we currently provide on a traded service basis, this would significantly affect our ability to compete fairly in the open market. This information would undoubtedly be of significant interest to our competitors.

Section 43(2) of FOIA states that:
‘Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).’ In order for a prejudice based exemption, such as section 43(2), to be engaged the three criteria must be met.

First, the actual harm which the public authority alleges would, or would be likely to, occur if the withheld information was disclosed has to relate to the applicable interests within the relevant exemption.

Secondly, the public authority must be able to demonstrate that some causal relationship exists between the potential disclosure of the information being withheld and the prejudice which the exemption is designed to protect. Furthermore, the resultant prejudice which is alleged must be real, actual or of substance.
Thirdly, it is necessary to establish whether the level of likelihood of prejudice being relied upon by the public authority is met – i.e., whether disclosure ‘would be likely to’ or ‘would’ result in prejudice.

Disclosing actual operating costs would assist others considering whether or not to compete in the market. Public interest arguments for maintaining the exemption: The Council's ability to trade on an even playing field would be severely prejudiced if it had to disclose the information requested as the Council would not be able to compete fairly as it would not know the costs faced by competitors yet they would know the Council's. This would undermine Council's ability to generate income to reduce the need for budgetary cuts through its trading activities which would be detrimental to the interests of the residents of Gateshead.

We have therefore determined that the commercial interests exemption is engaged and that, on balance, the public interest favours maintaining the exemption.

6. Average numbers of swimmers swimming and average income generated during periods of public swimming at the following stated times at each of the facilities listed above:

Tuesday 1700 - 1900
Thursday 1700 - 1900
Saturday 0800 - 1000
Sunday 0900 - 1100

Our data capture system is not sufficiently accurate to provide the information you have requested as it will exclude certain categories of customers. Information regarding the income generated is determined to be exempt for the same reasons as stated above.

Right to a review:
You may apply to the Strategic Director of Corporate Services and Governance, Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead,NE8 1HH, for an internal review of the decision. This will be a fresh consideration of your request by a more senior officer. If you wish to request a review must do this in writing within 40 days of receipt of this letter.

Following the internal review if you are still unhappy you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner as specified below.

Rights of appeal:
You may apply under Section 50 of the Act to the Information Commissioner at the address given below

Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF

For a decision whether, in any specified respect, a request for information made by you to the Department/office has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of Part 1 of the Act.

The Information Commissioner shall consider the matter fully and make a fresh decision.

The information provided in response to your request is copyright Gateshead Council unless otherwise endorsed. Granting access to this information under the Freedom of Information Act does not permit you to re-use the information provided for commercial purposes, for photocopying or reproduction in any form. If you wish to re-use the information you need to apply for a Licence. You can do this by writing to Tanya Rossington, Information Rights Officer, Corporate Services and Governance, 1st Floor, Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead, NE8 1HH. You may be required to pay a fee or comply with conditions for permitted re-use.

Yours faithfully
Information Rights Officer

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Andrew Strickland

Dear Gateshead 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 Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Leisure Centre operating costs'.

Thank you for your response but I do not feel that you have acted within the regulations of the FOI Act as it was intended .

1. You mention an attached Cabinet Report as part solution to my request. There is no report attached.
2. You state commercial sensitivity for the reason of refusal of my initial request, questions 2-5. I am concerned that this is viewed as commercially sensitive for the following reasons:
a) There is no competition in the Borough of Gateshead, you already have the monopoly on swimming pools of this nature.
b) Your pools are subsidised with through public funding, central government grants and council tax. As a council tax, income tax and national insurance contributor, I have every right to request where and how my contributions are used, especially when this is in a statutory service.
4. Salaries for public sector workers should be a matter of public record. I have searched for this information yet it appears not to be available outside of the senior salaried Council employees.
5. I request that you reconsider my request and provide the information as requested.

Kind regards,

Andrew Strickland

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

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Strickland

informationrights, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Strickland

I have forwarded your request for review to my manager

I apologise for the missing cabinet report, please find attached

We will be in further contact regarding your review

Thank you
Information Rights Officer

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Andrew Strickland

Dear informationrights,

Could you please let me know what has happened to the internal review?

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Strickland