Meetings of Roman Road Regeneration Steering Group

Kate Gould made this Freedom of Information request to Tower Hamlets Borough Council

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

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Tower Hamlets Borough Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Tower Hamlets Borough Council,

Please provide copies of the minutes of the meetings of the Roman Road Regeneration Steering Group or whatever the group (not LAP5) is called that is forming the strategy for the regeneration of Roman Road East District Centre under the chairmanship of Cllr Joshua Peck, for all its meetings from 2008 to the present. Please also provide copies of the clerk's notes from which the minutes were drawn up.

Yours faithfully

Kate Gould

Jane L Jones, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Dear Sir/Madam

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

Thank you for your email.

Your request is being considered and if the information is held you will
receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20
working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to
the information not being exempt.

If the time taken to meet your request is likely to exceed 18 hours, we
will contact you and ask you amend your request to bring it below this
time limit. We will assist you with suggestions of how this might be
achieved.

I may also contact you if the request needs to be clarified; this is to
ensure that we provide you with the information you require.

Please note that some information you have requested may not be provided
to you; this will only be information that can be withheld by law. In
most cases the reasons will be explained to you along with your copy of
any information that can be released to you.

Yours faithfully,

Jane Jones

Information Governance Administrative Officer

Legal Services

6th Floor

Mulberry Place

London E14 2BG

0207 364 4736

[1][email address]

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References

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3. mailto:[Tower Hamlets Borough Council request email]

Jane L Jones, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Dear Ms Gould

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - IGT_FOI_09_3461 - Minutes of Roman Road
Regeneration Steering Group

I am the Council's Monitoring Officer and have made this determination on
behalf of the Council under the Freedom of Information Act.

I refer to your request dated 20^th September 2010 which has been given
careful consideration taking into account relevant factors and
disregarding irrelevant ones.

On this occasion your request is refused and this e mail sets out why the
reasons for that decision.

Consideration

The relevant factors that have been taken into account are that the Roman
Road Implementation Group is an internal meeting of officers who seek to
implement Council strategy for this area.

The purpose of the group is to examine various options and assess their
suitability implementing those which the group agrees are viable. It is a
multi disciplinary group and consists of members from different
professional backgrounds. They offer advice according to their expertise.
If the minutes of this working group were to be released it would inhibit
the specialists' ability to give frank advice on proposed courses of
action and would have a negative impact on the work of the Council.

Accordingly the exemption contained in Section 36(2)(b) (i) of the Freedom
of Information Act has been applied to this request as the disclosure of
the information requested would inhibit the free and frank imparting or
provision of advice .

The exemption under Section 36(2)(b) (ii) has also been applied to this
request on the basis that its disclosure would inhibit the offering or
requesting of opinions or considerations. The Implementation Group is not
a formal meeting of the Council and this is to allow members of the group
to be free to explore possible options without them being made public.
Were the minutes to be disclosed they would not feel free to express
themselves openly, honestly and completely or to explore extreme options.
In addition the disclosure of these minutes would reveal the Council's
internal thinking processes. This would be detrimental to the ultimate
quality of decision making as it will make officers reluctant to explore
possible solutions which may, after discussion, be disregarded but which
could have the potential to deliver valuable results for the community.
This would have an adverse effect on the work of the Council.

Section 36(2) (c ) has been applied to this request on the basis that its
disclosure would otherwise prejudice or would be likely to prejudice the
effective conduct of public affairs. The Council needs to be able to
examine potential solutions which may or may not be practicable for the
issues facing the Roman Road regeneration. Were the debates of this group
be made public, the Council's thinking on schemes could be misunderstood
and it would have the effect of disrupting the Council's work in trying to
achieve the regeneration of this area. It would also divert resources in
dealing with inquiries about individual debates which have taken place at
the meetings.

All of the exemptions in these sections are subject to the public interest
test.

Public Interest Test

In considering the public interest consideration has been given to the
public interest in receiving the information and balancing that with the
prejudice to the Council which would follow by publishing the information
requested .

Factors in favour of publication

1. The Council wishes to be open and transparent about its business and
takes active steps to keep the people of Tower Hamlets informed of the
work of the Council through a variety of media. This consideration
means there is an assumption that information will be published.

2. The public has a right to know the Council's decisions as they affect
the community it serves and information should be published wherever
possible

Factors against publication

1. The contents of the minutes of the Roman Road Implementation Group
represent the output of a working group not a formal Council meeting.
They represent opinions and views rather than facts They would not
further the understanding of and participation in a public debate but
would serve to confuse matters as they represent consideration of
options rather than of Council decisions.

2. Disclosure would not promote accountability and transparency as it
would mean that at future meetings officers would not be able to have
a free and frank exchange of views. The Council decisions on such
projects are taken at Development Committee and are subject to public
scrutiny. Reasons for those decisions are always given.

3. Any decisions to spend public money are taken in accordance with the
Council's Constitution and are either taken by members or in
accordance with the Council's published scheme of delegation

Having weighed the factors both for and against disclosure it is my
judgment that, on balance, the prejudice to the Council is such that the
public interest will not be served by disclosing the minutes and the
clerks notes. It is therefore my determination that the information
requested should not be disclosed

As this is a decision by the Council's Monitoring Officer, there is no
further right of internal review as within the Council's structure there
is no one who could sensibly conduct such a review. If you are
dissatisfied with this determination then you will need to contact the
Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700

[1]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Isabella Freeman

Assistant Chief Executive (Legal Services)

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2. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
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Dear Jane L Jones,

Please could you ask Ms Freeman whether the Roman Road Implementation Group makes regular reports of their conclusions to the Cabinet or the Council, and if so whether such reports can be disclosed. As they are spending public money, presumably even if their deliberations cannot be scrutinised their final decisions can be? Ms Freeman refers to the Development Committee as being the body that approves the RRIG's recommendations, but my understanding is that the Development Committee deals with planning applications, not with the spending of money on streetscape improvement projects and the waiver of market licence fees and the other matters that the RRIG has been considering?

Yours sincerely,

Kate Gould

Jane L Jones, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

I am out the office and will return on Monday1st November.

Please contact Tim Rodgers [email address] or Redouane
Serroukh [email address].

For Freedom of Information Requests, please contact
[Tower Hamlets Borough Council request email]

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References

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2. mailto:[Tower Hamlets Borough Council request email]

Dear Tower Hamlets Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Tower Hamlets Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Meetings of Roman Road Regeneration Steering Group'.

I am not satisfied by the given reason for non-disclosure. My understanding is that this Group is advising and/or deciding on the spending of public money and the strategies adopted by the Council to help regenerate the Roman Road East District Centre. These are highly responsible tasks being undertaken by (hopefully) senior officers and chaired by an elected councillor, all of whom should be perfectly capable of justifying their views. The discussions and decisions affect the livelihood of many retailers and stallholders in the district centre and the community as a whole and should be open to public scrutiny.

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

Yours faithfully,

Kate Gould

Tim Rodgers, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Dear Ms Gould,

We are unable to proceed with an internal review of our decision
concerning this matter. As advised in our original Refusal Notice of 20
October 2010, the decision to apply the Section 36 exemption was taken by
the responsible person defined under the Act, and any internal review we
undertake would be at a similar level. We therefore maintain our
direction that should you not be satisfied with our decision, you should
seek the adjudication of the Information Commissioner
([1]www.ico.gov.uk). We outlined the Commissioner's contact details in
our Refusal Notice.

Thanks,
Tim Rodgers
Information Governance Manager
Legal Services
Chief Executives Department
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Phone: 0207 364 4354
[mobile number]
Fax: 0207 364 4804
E-mail: [2][email address]
Website: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk
6th Floor, Town Hall, 5 Mulberry Place,
London E14 2BG

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References

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3. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
4. mailto:[Tower Hamlets Borough Council request email]

Kate Gould left an annotation ()

ICO upheld my complaint on 2 August 2011. Tower Hamlets BC has until Wed 21 Sept to disclose the information or issue a refusal notice relying on an exception under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Tim Rodgers, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

13 Attachments

Dear Ms Gould,
As directed by the Information Commissioner please find attached the
information in relation to part (i) of your original request. 
 
In terms of (ii) I can confirm that the Clerks notes are not held by the
Council.  As the Commissioner has determined that this would constitute
Environmental Information, this email constitutes a Refusal Notice under
Section 1 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.  I believe
you are already aware of the complaints procedure should you wish to
appeal against this decision.
 
Thanks,
Tim Rodgers
Information Governance Manager
Legal Services
Chief Executives Department
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Phone: 0207 364 4354
[mobile number]
Fax: 0207 364 4804
E-mail: [1][email address]
Website: http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk
6th Floor, Town Hall, 5 Mulberry Place,
London E14 2BG
 

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References

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2. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
3. mailto:[Tower Hamlets Borough Council request email]

Dear Tim Rodgers,

Thank you for this. Please could you also provide copies of the minutes for the meetings of the "RR Executive Board":

- prior to 16 September 2008 (the minutes of the Implementation Steering Group for that date show that the Executive Board had already been set up);

- on 1 October 2008 or thereabouts (a meeting on that date was anticipated in those minutes of 16 September);

- on 5 November 2008.

Please also say whether there were meetings in October, November or December 2009 and after January 2010, and if so provide the minutes for those as well.

Yours sincerely,

Kate Gould