Ownership, Lease Terms, and Rent & Rates Charged on Council-owned Kiosk, Conwy Quay.

Tony Graham Segui made this Freedom of Information request to Conwy County Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Conwy County Borough Council.

Tony Graham Segui

Dear Conwy County Borough Council,

Would you kindly confirm if the kiosk located in Conwy Quay, known as "Parisella's ice cream kiosk", Lower Gate St, Conwy, is a Council-owned (i.e. publicly-owned) property, and if so, what are the Terms of the Lease/License; in particular what Rent & Rates are currently applicable to this publicly-owned property?
I do not wish to request information in relation to the lessees/tenants (as that could be confidential and against the Data Protection Act 1998); just in relation to the lease & rental terms applied to the property itself (irrespective of who the tenants might be), as it is publicly-owned and therefore the terms of its rental as a publicly-owned property should be public knowledge.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

C. Morgant

Uned Llyw-Gwyb / Info-Gov Unit, Conwy County Borough Council

Diolch am eich neges e-bost. Os ydych yn gofyn am fynediad at wybodaeth
dan delerau Deddf Rhyddid Gwybodaeth 2000 cewch ymateb o fewn ugain
niwrnod gwaith.

Thank you for your email. If you are requesting access to information
under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you will receive a
response within twenty working days.

show quoted sections

Rochane Vye, Conwy County Borough Council

Dear C. Morgant

Thank you for your enquiry.

The information that you have requested in terms of rent is commercially sensitive and is due to be reviewed. We would not want to prejudice the negotiations with our Tenant, so I am therefore unable to provide you with this information.

The rateable value of the property should be available from the valuation offices website, follow the link. https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/business-... unless small business exemption applies.

Regards

Rochane D Vye MRICS
Rheolwr Eiddo | Property Manager
Ystadau a Rheoli Asedau | Estates & Asset Management
Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol CONWY County Borough Council
C: [email address] : 01492 574051 : www.conwy.gov.uk

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg. Byddwn yn ymateb i unrhyw ohebiaeth yn Gymraeg ac ni fydd hyn yn arwain at unrhyw oedi.  We welcome correspondence in Welsh. We will respond to any correspondence in Welsh which will not lead to a delay.

Peidiwch â phrintio'r neges yma os nad oes angen | Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to  
 Lleihau Ailddefnyddio Ailgylchu | Reduce Re-use Recycle  

show quoted sections

Tony Graham Segui

Dear Conwy County Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Conwy County Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Ownership, Lease Terms, and Rent & Rates Charged on Council-owned Kiosk, Conwy Quay.'.

My request for an Internal Review of the initial decision to date to withhold the details requested in my FOI Request is based on the following reasons:

i. Apart from Rent & Rates applicable to the property, the FOI Request also requested details of the Terms of the Léase/License. The reply received only addresses Rent & Rates, but does not address the details requested as regards the Terms of the Lease/License applicable to the property to date.
This needs addressing please.

ii. The reasons offered for not providing the details requested as regards the level of Rent applicable to the property to date is, and I quote:
“ The information that you have requested in terms of rent is commercially sensitive and is due to be reviewed. We would not want to prejudice the negotiations with our Tenant, so I am therefore unable to provide you with this information.” (sic) Unquote.
The fact that the level of Rent on a PUBLICLY-OWNED building is ‘commercially sensitive’ should not be a reason to withdraw openness of the details relevant to the building, if anything, it is only all the more reason to ensure absolute openness and transparency.
Surely, since we are talking about a PUBLICLY-OWNED property that WE THE PUBLIC OWN, WE THE PUBLIC surely therefore have a right to know how much rent our Agents, whom we employ to work for us, i.e. the Public/Civil Servants at our Council’s Estates and Asset Management Section, have to date negotiated on our PUBLICLY-OWNED PROPERTY, on OUR BEHALF.
Imagine how outrageous it would equally sound if you had a property of your own, and you appointed a Property Agent to let it and manage it for you, but when you asked them how much rent they have been collecting for YOU on YOUR BEHALF, for YOUR PROPERTY, they refused to give you the relevant level of rent because it is “commercially sensitive”.
It is equally ludicrous in both instances.
WE THE PUBLIC own it; WE THE PUBLIC have a RIGHT TO KNOW!

iii. Similarly, another somewhat bizarre reason offered for not providing the details requested is that apparently the
Terms of the Agreement are due to be reviewed, and the rationale behind refusing to provide the details requested in the FOI Request is because it is suggested that providing the details requested in the FOI Request will somehow, and I quote: “.. prejudice the negotiations with our Tenant” (sic) Unquote.
The tenant is obviously ALREADY privy to those details, in other words, providing the details requested in my FOI Request will in mo way or form whatsoever provide the existing tenant with any information whatsoever that he doesn’t ALREADY HAVE, nor that as a member of the public and therefore co-owner of that public property, he is not entitled to, just like WE THE PUBLIC are all just as equally entitled to have.
Therefore providing the details requested in my FOI Request will in no way strengthen the current tenant’s hand in the said negotiations; if anything it will strengthen OUR hand, the PUBLIC’s.

I therefore hereby request that you kindly consider the above factors by means of a FOI Internal Review as the next step in the FOI Requests process, and in view of the above genuine and Bona-fide nature of the reasons given and explained, kindly consider it right and proper to provide all the details requested in the FOI Request.

Sincerely,

C. Morgant.

[ GIVE DETAILS ABOUT YOUR COMPLAINT HERE ]

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

Uned Llyw-Gwyb / Info-Gov Unit, Conwy County Borough Council

Diolch am eich neges e-bost. Os ydych yn gofyn am fynediad at wybodaeth
dan delerau Deddf Rhyddid Gwybodaeth 2000 cewch ymateb o fewn ugain
niwrnod gwaith.

Thank you for your email. If you are requesting access to information
under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you will receive a
response within twenty working days.

show quoted sections

Derek O'Connor, Conwy County Borough Council

Dear C. Morgant.
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) 1069-19 Outcome of Internal Review
Thank you for your Internal Review request dated 5/3/2020 regarding a
Freedom of Information request in which you asked for:
 
Would you kindly confirm if the kiosk located in Conwy Quay, known as
"Parisella's ice cream kiosk", Lower Gate St, Conwy, is a Council-owned
(i.e. publicly-owned) property, and if so, what are the Terms of the
Lease/License; in particular what Rent & Rates are currently applicable to
this publicly-owned property?
I do not wish to request information in relation to the lessees/tenants
(as that could be confidential and against the Data Protection Act 1998);
just in relation to the lease & rental terms applied to the property
itself (irrespective of who the tenants might be), as it is publicly-owned
and therefore the terms of its rental as a publicly-owned property should
be public knowledge.
 
The purpose of an Internal Review is to assess how your Freedom of
Information request was handled in the first instance and to determine
whether the original decision given to you was correct. This is an
independent review: I was not involved in the original decision.
Your original request was submitted on the 3/3/2020 and the response was
issued on the 4/3/2020. You were advised the following:
 
Thank you for your enquiry.
 
The information that you have requested in terms of rent is commercially
sensitive and is due to be reviewed. We would not want to prejudice the
negotiations with our Tenant, so I am therefore unable to provide you with
this information.
 
The rateable value of the property should be available from the valuation
offices website, follow the link.
[1]https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/business-...
unless small business exemption applies.
 
Your internal review request stated:
 
I am writing to request an internal review of Conwy County Borough
Council's handling of my FOI request 'Ownership, Lease Terms, and Rent &
Rates Charged on Council-owned Kiosk, Conwy Quay.'.
 
My request for an Internal Review of the initial decision to date to
withhold the details requested in my FOI Request is based on the following
reasons:
 
i.   Apart from Rent & Rates applicable to the property, the FOI Request
also requested details of the Terms of the Lease/License. The reply
received only addresses Rent & Rates, but does not address the details
requested as regards the Terms of the Lease/License applicable to the
property to date.
This needs addressing please.
 
ii.  The reasons offered for not providing the details requested as
regards the level of Rent applicable to the property to date is, and I
quote:
“The information that you have requested in terms of rent is commercially
sensitive and is due to be reviewed. We would not want to prejudice the
negotiations with our Tenant, so I am therefore unable to provide you with
this information.” (sic) Unquote.
The fact that the level of Rent on a PUBLICLY-OWNED building is
‘commercially sensitive’ should not be a reason to withdraw openness of
the details relevant to the building, if anything, it is only all the more
reason to ensure absolute openness and transparency.
Surely, since we are talking about a PUBLICLY-OWNED property that WE THE
PUBLIC OWN, WE THE PUBLIC surely therefore have a right to know how much
rent our Agents, whom we employ to work for us, i.e. the Public/Civil
Servants at our Council’s Estates and Asset Management Section, have to
date negotiated on our PUBLICLY-OWNED PROPERTY, on OUR BEHALF.
Imagine how outrageous it would equally sound if you had a property of
your own, and you appointed a Property Agent to let it and manage it for
you, but when you asked them how much rent they have been collecting for
YOU on YOUR BEHALF, for YOUR PROPERTY, they refused to give you the
relevant level of rent because it is “commercially sensitive”.
It is equally ludicrous in both instances.
WE THE PUBLIC own it; WE THE PUBLIC have a RIGHT TO KNOW!
 
iii. Similarly, another somewhat bizarre reason offered for not providing
the details requested is that apparently the Terms of the Agreement are
due to be reviewed, and the rationale behind refusing to provide the
details requested in the FOI Request is because it is suggested that
providing the details requested in the FOI Request will somehow, and I
quote: “.. prejudice the negotiations with our Tenant” (sic) Unquote.
The tenant is obviously ALREADY privy to those details, in other words,
providing the details requested in my FOI Request will in mo way or form
whatsoever provide the existing tenant with any information whatsoever
that he doesn’t ALREADY HAVE, nor that as a member of the public and
therefore co-owner of that public property, he is not entitled to, just
like WE THE PUBLIC are all just as equally entitled to have.
Therefore providing the details requested in my FOI Request will in no way
strengthen the current tenant’s hand in the said negotiations; if anything
it will strengthen OUR hand, the PUBLIC’s.
 
I therefore hereby request that you kindly consider the above factors by
means of a FOI Internal Review as the next step in the FOI Requests
process, and in view of the above genuine and Bona-fide nature of the
reasons given and explained, kindly consider it right and proper to
provide all the details requested in the FOI Request.
 
I have reviewed the original response and can confirm that in my opinion
it was lacking in detail with regards to why the requested information was
considered exempt and why it was also considered not to be in the public
interest to disclose. For that I apologise and advise the following.
In response to your query marked i) above I would advise the Terms of the
Lease/License are considered commercially confidential information (see
below). 
In response to your query marked ii) above I would advise that whilst the
premises are publically owned, they are managed on behalf of the public by
the local authority. It is important therefore that the wider public
interest is served by the local authority realising the best possible
return, in terms of rent for those premises. And not prejudiced by the
disclosure of such information to a small number of individual/s.
 
I note your statement:
 
‘Imagine how outrageous it would equally sound if you had a property of
your own, and you appointed a Property Agent to let it and manage it for
you, but when you asked them how much rent they have been collecting for
YOU on YOUR BEHALF, for YOUR PROPERTY, they refused to give you the
relevant level of rent because it is “commercially sensitive”. It is
equally ludicrous in both instances.’
 
However the premise of your argument is not accepted. It is not possible
in my opinion to draw any comparison whatsoever between a property that is
publically owned and managed on behalf of that public by a local authority
and one that is owned by a private individual or individuals, and managed
by an agent appointed by that private individual/s.
 
If a property was owned by a private individual/s and managed on their
behalf by a Property Agent, then those individual/s would clearly be aware
of the rent collected because they would be the ultimate recipient of such
rent, plus the fact that a percentage would likely be payable to the
Agent.
In response to your query marked iii) I would advise that the lease
details are recorded on the Land Registry under Title Number CYM665405
which is already publically accessible via the following link:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
 
The Lease is protected by the Landlords & Tenants Act 1954, which means
the Tenant is entitled to a new agreement on the same terms and conditions
apart from the rent, which will be the subject of negotiation.
 
I would advise that your request in relation to the lease & rental terms
applied to the property itself is considered commercially confidential
information and therefore exempt under s43 of the FOIA. S43 relates to
commercial interests/confidentiality and applies to information which, if
disclosed would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial
interests/confidentiality of any person, including the authority holding
it. The rental terms applied to the lease are due to be reviewed shortly
and negotiations are soon to take place.
 
S43 is subject to the public interest test, and where information is
deemed in the public interest to disclose, it cannot be withheld. Indeed
there are a number of factors that would support disclosing the lease &
rental terms applied to the property such as it would promote
accountability and transparency of any decisions made with regards to
public monies, for example the income realised by the local authority on
behalf of the public, it would allow the public to understand any
decisions made with regards rent and to be able to challenge them, it
would allow the scrutiny of actions/advice of public officials and in
addition it could/would contribute to wider public understanding.
 
These are however outweighed in my opinion by those supporting
non-disclosure which is the information relates to a live a commercial
activity. The commercial interests/confidentiality of both the local
authority and the leasee would/could be affected by disclosure.
 
I have concluded that the original decision to withhold the requested
information was correct for the reasons pointed out above, however
acknowledge that the explanations provided as to why that was deemed the
case were lacking, and for which I would apologise again.  This therefore
concludes the Internal Review of your information request.  If you
disagree with the outcome you should contact the Information
Commissioner’s Office whose contact details are below:
 
Information Commissioner’s Office – Wales
2nd Floor
Churchill House
Churchill Way
Cardiff
CF10 2HH
 
Email: [email address]
 
Yours sincerely
 
Derek O'Connor
Rheolwr Llywodraethu Gwybodaeth / Information Governance Manager
Cyngor Bwrdeistef Sirol CONWY County Borough Council
E-Bost / E-Mail: [email address]
 
 

show quoted sections