Poplar Town Hall Sale

Conrad Catalan 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.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Tower Hamlets Borough Council,

This is about the sale of Poplar Town Hall in 2011.

Minutes of the full Council meeting held on 16 May 2012 at agenda item 8.14 on page 30 partially refer.

I would like to know:

(1) The council’s own, independent, valuation of the site.

(2) The identity of the "external agents".

(3) The quantity of bids received.

(4) The identity of the person who, independently and transparently, supervised or monitored the opening of the bids.

(5) Whether the bids were sent to an independent organisation to ensure no bids were accidentally ‘lost’ or ‘omitted’ or some favoured more than others.

(6) Comprehensive details of the alleged "openly and widely marketed" campaign with full copies of the ‘For Sale’ texts and photos

Yours faithfully,

Conrad Catalan

Misbaul Faim, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

 

 

Dear Sir/Madam

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000 FOI Request

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Your request is being considered and you will receive a response within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as required by the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

 

If the time taken to meet your request is likely to exceed 18 hours, we
will likely refuse to provide the information.  In that case, we will try
to contact you and offer advice and assistance on how to amend your
request to bring it below this time limit.

 

Regards

 

Misbaul Faim

Information Governance Administrator

Legal Services 6th Floor

Mulberry Place

London E14 2BG

020 7364 1714

[1][email address]

 

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References

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

Richard Carter, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Dear Mr Catalan

 

Your request for information has been considered under the requirements of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Please find the information
attached.

 

You can also search our Disclosure Log for any specific topics of interest
[1]http://towerhamletsfoi.org.uk/disclosure...

 

The Council’s website [2]www.towerhamlets.gov.uk contains a section on the
Freedom of Information Act that lists other publications readily available
from the Council under its Publication Scheme.

 

Conditions for the re-use of information where the [3]copyright is owned
by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets can be found on our website.

 

If you are unhappy with this response or wish to complain about any aspect
of the handling of this request please write to:

 

Corporate Complaints Unit

Tower Hamlets Town Hall

Mulberry Place

5 Clove Crescent

London E14 2BG

[4][email address]

 

If you are still dissatisfied with the Council’s response after the
internal review you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner
at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700

[5]www.ico.org.uk

 

Regards

 

 

 

Many Thanks

 

Richard Carter

Complaints and Information Officer

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Town Hall

5 Mulberry Place

Clove Crescent

London

E14 2BG

 

Phone: 020 7364 4164

 

 

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References

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1. http://towerhamletsfoi.org.uk/disclosure...
http://towerhamletsfoi.org.uk/disclosure...
2. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
3. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgsl/1051...
4. mailto:[email address]
5. http://www.ico.org.uk/
6. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
7. mailto:[Tower Hamlets Borough Council request email]

Richard Carter, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

1 Attachment

 

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References

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1. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
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 'Poplar Town Hall Sale'.

----------------------------------------

(A) The material requested is a matter of record.

(B) Disclosing the requested material can not affect the deliberations, including enquiries, of the council or of the police or of a court of law.

(C) The Local Authority's embarrassment and/or the political aspirations of its politicians and/or the professional reputations of its paid staff are not lawful or reasonable or proportionate reasons to conceal from the public actions collectively taken by the Local Authority on behalf of the public particularly when those actions are contentious and suggest disreputable conduct by the Local Authority.

-----------------------------------------------

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

Yours faithfully,

Conrad Catalan

Richard Carter, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

1-85374641 FOI Review 9850 Poplar Town Hall Sale

 

Dear Mr Catalan

 

I was sorry to hear of your concerns.

 

I have passed your complaint to Richard Carter, Complaints and Information
Officer asking that a full investigation takes place on my behalf under
Stage 3 of the Council’s Complaints Procedure.

 

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

 

Sent on behalf of

 

David Galpin

Service Head - Legal Services

 

Many Thanks

 

Richard Carter

Complaints and Information Officer

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Town Hall

5 Mulberry Place

Clove Crescent

London

E14 2BG

 

Phone: 020 7364 4164

 

 

 

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Please consider your environmental responsibility: Before printing this
e-mail or any other document , ask yourself whether you need a hard copy.

References

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

Richard Carter, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Catalan

 

RE:  SFOI 9850 Poplar Town Hall Sale

 

Please find attached response letter dated 4 March 2014.

 

If you are not satisfied with the Council’s response to your complaint you
have a right of appeal to the independent Information Commissioner at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700

[1]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

 

Further information about the operation of the act is available from the
council’s website [2]www.towerhamlets.gov.uk and the information leaflet
in public reception areas in Council buildings.

 

 

Sent on behalf of

 

Graham White

Interim Head of Operations Legal Services

 

Many Thanks

 

Richard Carter

Complaints and Information Officer

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Town Hall

5 Mulberry Place

Clove Crescent

London

E14 2BG

 

Phone: 020 7364 4164

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/
2. http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/

Dear Richard Carter,

Please may I have the TEXT of Mr White's reply not a picture of it.

I want to highlight, copy and paste Mr White's text. I can not do that with a series of pictures. Alternatively I can ask the reasonable and nice Mr White directly - what do you prefer ?

Yours sincerely,

Conrad Catalan

Richard Carter, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Dear Mr Catalan

As per your request I provide a copy of the text in the pdf I attached yesterday.

Many Thanks

Richard Carter
Complaints and Information Officer
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Town Hall
5 Mulberry Place
Clove Crescent
London
E14 2BG

Phone: 020 7364 4164

Dear Mr Catalan

Stage 3 Complaint 1-85374641
SFOI 9850 Poplar Town Hall Sale

I am writing to let you know that Richard Carter, Complaints and Information Officer, has completed the investigation into your complaint.

Your original FOI request was sent on 19 January 2014 and responded to on 6 February 2014 explaining that the sale of Poplar Town Hall is subject to examination by the Overview & Scrutiny Committee. As the Council does not wish to prejudice that process, the information you requested is not being provided. It is considered that this approach best serves the public interest. A further request may be considered once the scrutiny process has concluded.

Your complaint is that

(A) The material requested is a matter of record.

(B) Disclosing the requested material can not affect the deliberations, including enquiries, of the council or of the police or of a court of law.

(C) The Local Authority's embarrassment and/or the political aspirations of its politicians and/or the professional reputations of its paid staff are not lawful or reasonable or proportionate reasons to conceal from the public actions collectively taken by the Local Authority on behalf of the public particularly when those actions are contentious and suggest disreputable conduct by the Local Authority.

The sale of the former Poplar Town Hall has been referred to the Head of Paid Service and the Section 151 officer in conjunction with the District Auditor following a decision from an emergency motion on 22 January 2014 approved by the full Council.

I consider that some the information should not be released into the public domain until a decision is reached and believe the section 22 exemption applies (intended for future publication). Once the investigation is concluded and the outcome formally reported the Council the information requested can be released.

However, I find that the original refusal notice issued was defective. The answers to your first two questions were in the public domain at the time the response to you was issued. You should have been supplied with this information and I apologise for this.

Questions 1 -2
1. The Council’s own, independent valuation of the site
The first was conducted by GVA estimated as £500,000.The second was conducted by BNP Paribas Real Estate as between £750,000 and £950,000.

2. The identity of the “external agents”
BNP Paribas Real Estate, 5 Aldermanbury Square, London EC2V 7BP

Questions 3 - 6
3. The quantity of bids received;

4. The identity of the person who, independently and transparently, supervised or monitored the opening of the bids;

5. Whether the bids were sent to an independent organisation to ensure no bids were accidentally ‘lost’ or ‘omitted’ or some favoured more than others;

6. Comprehensive details of the alleged "openly and widely marketed" campaign with full copies of the ‘For Sale’ texts and photos;

With regards to questions 3-6 I can confirm that the Council holds the information, and for question 6 this includes three documents which relate to the sale of the property.
Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 says that information is exempt if, at the time a public authority receives a request for it:

• the public authority holds it with a view to its publication;

• the public authority or another person intends to publish the information at some future date, whether determined or not; and

• in all the circumstances it is reasonable to withhold the information prior to publication.

It is intended to publish the information requested once the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has agreed the terms of reference of the investigation and this has been agreed by the full Council and the findings of the investigation will be reported through the usual channels.

Section 22 provides a qualified exemption, so we have considered whether the public interest in applying the exemption is greater than the public interest in providing the information at this time. The following factors have been taken into consideration:

Factors in favour of publication
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 about the investigation will be published.

The public has a right to know the Council’s decisions in terms of the sale of Poplar Town Hall and that officer conduct has been appropriate as they affect the community it serves and best value obtained for the sale of assets and information should be published wherever possible to promote transparency and decision making.

Factors against publication
There is a due process has been followed when handling complaints referred to the Head of Paid Service and Section 151 officer in conjunction with the District Auditor. The drip drip effect of new information being released while the investigation is being carried out would promote further media interest, diverting resources and officer time and would be contrary to the public interest. The matter is also subject to scrutiny through the Overview & Scrutiny committee and full Council.

Having weighed the factors both for and against disclosure it is my judgment that the public interest will not be served by disclosing information about the sale until the investigation has formally reported to the Overview Scrutiny Committee and full Council and recommendations made.

I can confirm that there are no further review processes available through London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

If you are still dissatisfied with the Council’s response after the internal review you have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
www.informationcomissioner.org.uk

Further information about the operation of the act is available from the council’s website www.towerhamlets.gov.uk and the information leaflet in public reception areas in Council buildings.

Yours sincerely

Graham White
Interim Head of Operations Legal Services

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For the interim HEAD OF LEGAL,

Is this matter now the subject of the DCLG investigation and/or a police investigation?

If not, please do your public duty and give us the juicy details.

Thank you.

Conrad Catalan

Richard Carter, Tower Hamlets Borough Council

Dear Mr Catalan

1-85374641 Stage 3 SFOI 9850 Poplar Town Hall Sale

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made a statement regarding the appointment of inspectors, which can be viewed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/inspe...

It would seem appropriate for your queries to be directed to the DCLG, the inspectors or the Metropolitan Police.

Many Thanks

Richard Carter
Complaints and Information Officer
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Town Hall
5 Mulberry Place
Clove Crescent
London
E14 2BG

Phone: 020 7364 4164

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