Dear Merton Borough Council,

Merton Council has completed its land/property transfer of Merton Hall to Elim Trust.
I request that you fully disclose all withheld information relating to Merton Council’s Merton Hall landswap transaction (unredacted).

Information should also include and not be limited to:

1- All reports, meeting minutes, notes and documents related to the Transaction prepared by the Council between January 2015 and December 2017;

2- All internal and external emails and correspondence related to the Transaction produced between January 2015 and December 2017;

3-Any instructions to third party professionals (including, but not limited to surveyors, valuers and other property professionals) and any reports received from such professionals in respect of the Transaction;

4- All correspondence, meeting minutes and documentation relating to the Council’s decisions regarding the construction contract to implement planning permission 17/P2668 for Merton Hall;

5- Any documents or correspondence relating to the Council’s assessment of the Transaction on people with protected characteristics under the Equalities Act 2010, and specifically on existing and potential users of Merton Hall (as well as the wider community) who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination by virtue of their sexual orientation.

For the avoidance of doubt, this request is made in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Yours faithfully,

Sara Sharp

foi, Merton Borough Council

Thank you for your email message. We aim to respond to all requests under
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 within 20 working days.
More information about the way we deal with information requests is on our
web site at [1]www.merton.gov.uk/foi.
 
Information Governance Team
London Borough of Merton.
020 8545 4634
 
 
 

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References

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1. file:///tmp/www.merton.gov.uk/foi

Marina Bowyer, Merton Borough Council

5 Attachments

Dear Ms Sharp,

 

Freedom of Information 2000 /Environmental Information Regulation request
2004 F12494

Your request is to fully disclose all withheld information relating to
Merton Council’s Merton Hall land swap transaction (unredacted).

 

This follows the FOI request you originally made on 3 January 2018 (our
reference F9958) when the council defended keeping as redacted certain
information within appendices to a report to the Council’s Sustainable
Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel dated 10 January 2018
 [1]https://democracy.merton.gov.uk/mgAi.asp...

   

It is noted that through Town Legal LLP you appealed to the Information
Commissioner's Officer on this matter and their decision on 3 October 2018
was as follows:

 

1. The complainant has requested information in relation to a property
transaction between the public authority and Elim Pentecostal Church. The
public authority revealed that it had published most of the information in
scope save a small amount of financial information in connection to the
value of the properties. It considered that information exempt on the
basis of the exception at regulation 12(5)(e) EIR.

2. The Commissioner’s decision is that the public authority was entitled
to rely on the exception at regulation 12(5)(e).

3. No steps are required.

 

The Council is clear on its responsibilities regarding disclosure when a
contractual negotiation is completed and given the time period since 3
October 2018 there is a requirement to disclose more information than
previously. We have therefore reviewed the relevant appendices to
determine further information that has been redacted that should now be
disclosed and concluded the following:

 

Sara Sharpe FOI disclosure review May 2019

  SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS REDACTIONS VIEW ON DISCLOSURE MAY 2019
Appendix 1  The maximum price agreed by Agree to disclose as contract
Cabinet for Domex and Elim completed
Appendix 2 Legard contract price Agree to disclose
(Recommendation B and para
2.44)

 
  Para 2.36 and 2.38 to 2.43 – In accordance with the
names and prices of other Environmental Information
firms, and reasoning for Regulations 2004, this is a
awarding the tender to Lengard refusal notice under exemption
12(5)(e) of the Regulations.

This exemption applies to
information where disclosure
would be likely to be
prejudicial to the commercial
interests of any person. 

Disclosure of this information
would be likely to prejudice
the council’s commercial
interests, because it could
affect Merton’s ability to
source the best value contract
in the future. Release of the
information would provide the
suppliers competitors with
information that would allow
them to alter bids for future
tenders to the detriment of
the existing supplier.

Release of this information
could result in a loss of
reputation for the Council
affecting future tenders and
existing contracts as any bids
received were provided in
confidence.  

As section 12(5)(e) is a
qualified exemption, we have
gone on to consider the public
interest test. We accept that
there is a general public
interest in openness and
transparency to promote
accountability. In this case
the public interest in
maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the
information. 

 
Appendix 3 Full report  Including Agree to disclose as contract
summaries of how valuation completed with Elim, Domex and
advice has been considered e.g. ESFA
Merton Hall on book value
Appendix 4 There was nothing redacted in N/A
this
Appendix 5 Names and telephone numbers of This information is exempt
individuals and offer figures under section 40(2) of the
redacted Freedom of Information Act,
2000.  This is because it is
personal data and disclosure
would contravene the Data
Protection Act. This applies
because individuals do not
expect their personal details
to be revealed to the world at
large, which disclosure under
the FOIA has to be considered
as. 

In accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 this
is a Refusal Notice to provide
the names, and contact details
of individuals. 

In accordance with the
Environmental Information
Regulations 2004, this is a
refusal notice under exemption
12(5)(e) of the Regulations to
provide the offer figures.

This exemption applies to
information where disclosure
would be likely to be
prejudicial to the commercial
interests of any person. 

Disclosure of this information
would be likely to prejudice
the council’s commercial
interests, because it could
affect Merton’s ability to
source the best value contract
in the future. Release of the
information would provide the
suppliers competitors with
information that would allow
them to alter bids for future
tenders to the detriment of
the existing supplier.

Release of this information
could result in a loss of
reputation for the Council
affecting future tenders and
existing contracts as any bids
received were provided in
confidence.  

As section 12(5)(e) is a
qualified exemption, we have
gone on to consider the public
interest test. We accept that
there is a general public
interest in openness and
transparency to promote
accountability. In this case
the public interest in
maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the
information. 

 
Appendix 6 Names and telephone numbers of This information is exempt
individuals and estimated under section 40(2) of the
construction figures Freedom of Information Act,
2000.  This is because it is
personal data and disclosure
would contravene the Data
Protection Act. This applies
because individuals do not
expect their personal details
to be revealed to the world at
large, which disclosure under
the FOIA has to be considered
as. 

In accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 this
is a Refusal Notice to provide
the names, and contact details
of individuals.

The estimated construction
figures are exempt from
disclosure under exemption
12(5)(e) of the Regulations.

This exemption applies to
information where disclosure
would be likely to be
prejudicial to the commercial
interests of any person. 

Disclosure of this information
would be likely to prejudice
the council’s commercial
interests, because a final
value has not currently been
agreed. Release of the
estimated figures would affect
Merton’s ability to source the
best value contract.

As section 12(5)(e) is a
qualified exemption, we have
gone on to consider the public
interest test. We accept that
there is a general public
interest in openness and
transparency to promote
accountability. In this case
the public interest in
maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the
information. 

 
Appendix 7 Provides some approximate In accordance with the
estimates in June 2015 but Environmental Information
otherwise meeting notes with Regulations 2004, this is a
contingency plans etc. refusal notice under exemption
12(5)(e) of the Regulations.

This exemption applies to
information where disclosure
would be likely to be
prejudicial to the commercial
interests of any person. 

Disclosure of this information
would be likely to prejudice
the council’s commercial
interests, because it could
affect Merton’s ability to
source the best value contract
in the future. Release of the
information would provide the
suppliers competitors with
information that would allow
them to alter bids for future
tenders to the detriment of
the existing supplier.

Release of this information
could result in a loss of
reputation for the Council
affecting future tenders and
existing contracts as any bids
received were provided in
confidence.  

As section 12(5)(e) is a
qualified exemption, we have
gone on to consider the public
interest test. We accept that
there is a general public
interest in openness and
transparency to promote
accountability. In this case
the public interest in
maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the
information. 

 
Appendix 8 Previously provided unredacted N/A
Appendix 9 Names and telephone numbers of This information is exempt
individuals and workings for under section 40(2) of the
how valuations figures have Freedom of Information Act,
been calculated that fed into 2000.  This is because it is
the negotiations personal data and disclosure
would contravene the Data
Protection Act. This applies
because individuals do not
expect their personal details
to be revealed to the world at
large, which disclosure under
the FOIA has to be considered
as. 

In accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 this
is a Refusal Notice to provide
the names, and contact details
of individuals.

In accordance with the
Environmental Information
Regulations 2004, this is a
refusal notice under exemption
12(5)(e) of the Regulations to
provide the workings for the
calculations for the
negotiations.

This exemption applies to
information where disclosure
would be likely to be
prejudicial to the commercial
interests of any person. 

Disclosure of this information
would be likely to prejudice
the council’s commercial
interests, because it could
affect Merton’s ability to
source the best value contract
in the future. Release of the
information would provide the
suppliers competitors with
information that would allow
them to alter bids for future
tenders to the detriment of
the existing supplier.

Release of this information
could result in a loss of
reputation for the Council
affecting future tenders and
existing contracts as any bids
received were provided in
confidence.  

As section 12(5)(e) is a
qualified exemption, we have
gone on to consider the public
interest test. We accept that
there is a general public
interest in openness and
transparency to promote
accountability. In this case
the public interest in
maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the
information. 

 
Appendix 10 No previous redactions N/A

 

In conclusion the following appendices will now be disclosed without the
same redactions and are attached accordingly:

 

Appendix 1 – full report

Appendix 2 – partly (include the Lengard contract price)

Appendix 3 – full report

Appendix 7 – partly

 

If you have any queries or concerns about this please contact me.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, please contact
the Head of Information Governance at Merton Council, Civic Centre,
Morden, SM4 5DX or e-mail [2][Merton Borough Council request email].

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

 

The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Telephone: 0303 123 1113

 

Website: [3]www.ico.org.uk

 

There is no charge for making an appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Marina Bowyer
Team Administrator & Finance Officer

Contracts & School Organisation
Children, Schools and Families
LB Merton
Civic Centre
Morden
SM4 5DX
Tel: 020 8545 3289

 

 

[4]cid:image001.jpg@01D33D2B.407A47C0

 

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References

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1. https://democracy.merton.gov.uk/mgAi.asp...
2. mailto:[Merton Borough Council request email]
3. http://www.ico.org.uk/