Dear Rother District Council,
I am writing to request information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In order to assist you with this request, I am outlining my query as specifically as possible.
In light of the recent decision by Lewes District Council to release its list of all long-term empty domestic and commercial properties (1), and the decision by Judge Fiona Henderson to order Camden Council make public its list of empty housing and the previous decisions to make lists of long-term empty properties in Lambeth and Bexley public, could you please send me a copy of the:
(a) addresses of all long-term empty privately owned homes that are within the Rother area
(b) addresses of all long-term empty council owned homes that are within the Rother area.
(c) addresses of all long-term empty commercial properties that are within the Rother area.
(d) the names of the owners of those properties referred to in (a), (b) and (c). I request that you also make it clear in any information you release whether properties are private residential, council owned or commercial property. Finally I request that you make clear how long each property has been empty for.
In considering this request, I hope you will take into account Judge Henderson's statement on releasing the empty housing list in Lambeth:
"The Tribunal is satisfied that publication of this list would bring a proportion of the void properties back into use earlier than would otherwise be the case and that, consequently, this is a strong public interest in favour of disclosure."
I would be interested in any information held by your organisation regarding my request. I understand that I do not have to specify particular files or documents and that it is the department's responsibility to provide the information I require. If you need further clarification, please contact me by email and/or phone.
I would like to receive the information in electronic format if possible.
If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees.
I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request. I look forward to your response within 20 working days, as outlined by the statute.
Dear Mr Jones,
Thank you for your e-mail of 19 October. Your request breaks down into 4 elements,a-d.
In relation to question (a) I have looked at the decision to which I think you are referring concerning LB Camden (Case No. EA/2011/0007, issued 2 September 2011). The original request expressly excluded homes owned by individuals, and what the Judge ordered the Council to disclose was:
(a) the list of Council managed void properties where a non individual is listed as either being the owner or as having a material interest in the property; and
(b) the list of private properties confirmed by the Council as void where a non individual is listed as either being the owner or as having a material interest in the property.
Will you please clarify that your question (a) only relates to empty properties owned by non-individuals? If there is some other decision that you are relying on to obtain information about homes owned by individuals, could you please supply sufficient details for me to find it? This request is being made so that we understand what information you want.
This is not a final response to your request, but Section 10(6)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 specifies that the 20-day period for compliance with the request begins when the authority receives the information it requires to identify and locate the information requested.
In order to assist you in the meanwhile, in relation to question (b) I can advise you now that this Council sold its housing stock to a Housing Association (now Amicus Horizon) in 1998, and in relation to question (d) you are able to obtain this information from the Land Registry and therefore we are not obliged to supply it; please refer to section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We are working on question (c).
Solicitor to the Council
Rother District Council
Bexhill on Sea
Tel: 01424 787840
P please consider the environment, do not print this email unless it is really necessary
Dear Mr Jones
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
With reference to your request received on 19 October 2011 and Mr Edwards’
email to you of 20 October, please find attached a spreadsheet giving
empty commercial properties regarding point (c) in your request. This
is now a final response pending clarification from you re point (a).
You may use our internal complaints procedure if you are dissatisfied. If
you are still dissatisfied you may appeal to the Information
Commissioner. Please contact Jo Morris, Team Leader - Customer Services,
if you wish to complain.
Solicitor to the Council
Rother District Council
East Sussex TN39 3JX
T: 01424 787835
E: [Rother District Council request email]
1. mailto:[Rother District Council request email]
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