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Property and Assets and Buildings

Viran Patel made this Freedom of Information request to Stoke on Trent City Council as part of a batch sent to 500 authorities

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

We're waiting for Viran Patel to read recent responses and update the status.

Dear Organisation,

I would like to know a full list of Vacant Properties held by your organisation and any of its subsidiaries.

If possible their market value for sale or to let, whether they would be considered for a community asset transfer, if not then whether they are for sale or to let. In a clear and easy to read format. It would be supportive if the property is for sale or to let that it is listed on here too: https://e-pims.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/gove... and that you inform us of this intention or such listing in the request.

In the previous case in Voyias v IC and LB Camden (EA/201v1/0007), the requesters asked for substantially similar information, and the judge favoured disclosure. I appreciate the circumstances here are quite different, but the same principles should apply.

I understand there is a risk that your empty properties would be targeted by squatters should this the list of empty properties be public, but this is a very slim risk. The prejudice to law enforcement should be real, likely and substantial, as per Hogan v the ICO and Oxford City Council. I can assure you that my request is not sent in order to cause trouble for the authority, it is predominantly for my own research, with publication as part of campaigning materials. I am concerned at the sale of public assets, not a not an advocate for their illegal occupation. I would also say that I cannot imagine the disclosure of this list of properties to significantly affect a squatting problem that pre-existed my interest in the organisation. Overall the prejudice to law enforcement is very slim, and not severe. Since 12 months will be the time that this information will be released onto this site, unless others request this information separately. The requester is not liable for any issues that may arise in between or after.

It is in the public interest and transparency that this information is made publicly available under the public sector duty under the equality act allowing people to know of this information and make use of it under the Community Asset Transfer scheme and under the Human Rights Act Article 11 enabling the community to gather and make decisions on the allocation of such assets.

Yours faithfully,

Viran Patel

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

Dear Mr Patel

 

Your request for information ref. SOT71014

 

Thank you for your request for information about empty properties and
details of community asset transfers and values.  Your request was
received by the Information Rights Team on 06 August 2018.  This is being
dealt with under the terms of the appropriate Information Rights
legislation.

 

In some circumstances we may charge for information.  If there is a charge
we will let you know, as you will have to pay it before we deal with your
request.

 

Some information does not have to be released under this legislation.  We
will check the information you have asked for and send you as much as
possible.  If another person or organisation is named in the information,
we may have to ask their opinion before we decide what we can give you.

 

You should expect to receive a response to your request on or before 04
September 2018 in line with the legislation's 20 working day statutory
deadline.

 

For your information we may publish the response to your request on our
City Council's website, which can be found at the following address:
[1]www.stoke.gov.uk.

 

If you have any queries about this email please do not hesitate to contact
us.

 

You can find details of how we handle your personal information by
visiting [2]www.stoke.gov.uk/dataprotection.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Rights Team

 

Information Rights

Floor 2 Civic Centre Glebe Street

Stoke-on-Trent ST4 1HH

City of Stoke-on-Trent 

t 01782 232853, 01782 233020, 01782 233732, 01782 235965

e [3][Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

 

 

Keep up-to-date with events in the city, job vacancies, news from the city
council and details about services which can help you by signing up to our
email updates at [4]www.stoke.gov.uk/stayconnected

Save time, go online; pay your council tax, manage your benefits, book a
housing repair and report a pothole at a time and place that’s convenient
for you at www.stoke.gov.uk 

show quoted sections

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/
2. file:///C:\Users\Kelly005l\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary%20Internet%20Files\Content.Outlook\434O2OF9\www.stoke.gov.uk\dataprotection
3. mailto:[Stoke on Trent City Council request email]
4. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/stayconnected

FOI, Stoke on Trent City Council

Dear Mr Patel

 

Your request for information ref. SOT71014 about empty properties and
details of community asset transfers and values.

 

We have considered your request and some of the information is exempt
under section Section 31 (Law Enforcement) and Section 38 (Health and
Safety) of the Act and will not be provided.

 

Section 31(1)(a) (Law Enforcement) allows a public authority to withhold
information if its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the
prevention or detection of crime. This exemption has been applied to the
properties which are empty. This is because once the information has been
released we have no control over who the information will be passed to and
the information could be used to target empty properties for crime, such
as theft, vandalism, arson or squatting.

 

It is considered that the public interest in withholding information about
these empty properties is stronger than the public interest in disclosing
it. This is because it is not in the public interest to make available
information that could be used to commit a crime. Additionally the Council
considers that the impact of these properties being targeted could have a
damaging effect to the local neighbourhood which is not in the public
interest.

 

Section 38(1)(b) (endanger of the safety of any individual) allows a
public authority to withhold information if its release would, or would be
likely to, endanger the safety of any individual.

 

This exemption has also been applied to the properties which are empty.
This is because the council considers that disclosure may lead to the risk
of individual safety, with respect to individuals entering buildings in
order to conduct crime.

 

The public interest considerations are similar to those above for section
31, but in addition it is not considered in the public interest to release
information which could ultimately jeopardise the safety of any
individuals

 

In considering the two exemptions above, the City of Stoke-on-Trent has
had first-hand experience of an incident, where an empty property, in this
case an empty commercial property (warehouse) was set fire to purposely.
Two homeless people had been sleeping rough in the building, and sadly
they both died as a result of the fire. Please find the article which
documents this case attached below:

 

[1]http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Arson-tri...

 

[2]http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/staff...

 

 

We are able to advise that as part of the Transparency Agenda we publish
our Asset Register online and it can be accessed by clicking the following
link, [3]http://webapps.stoke.gov.uk/AssetReporti... . When running the
report, there is the functionality to download the data and filter on the
vacant properties. However, it is worth noting that there where individual
properties/sites have been acquired for cpo, these are due to be
amalgamated in to several larger sites.

 

While the council has a full list of vacant properties, this is under
constant review as are estimates of value. Where properties do become
available, they will be advertised on our website,
[4]https://www.stoke.gov.uk/directory/37/pr....

 

There is no list of properties suitable for community asset transfers,
however applications can be made and will be considered in the appropriate
manner.

 

The information supplied may be used for domestic or journalistic
purposes.  Its use for commercial gain including issuing to the public,
social media or computer blogs may be subject to the issue of a licence
under the Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015.

 

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision,
you should write to: The Information Rights Manager, Information Rights
Team, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Floor 2, Civic Centre, Glebe Street,
ST4 1HH, or email [5][Stoke on Trent City Council request email].

 

If, after contacting us, you are not content with the outcome, you may ask
the Information Commissioner for a decision.  Before doing this, please
see the following link for guidance from the Information Commissioner
relating to how to use your information rights responsibly and
effectively, to enable you to gain the best outcome from the process -
[6]http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public.

 

Generally, the Information Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you
have already used our internal review procedure. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner’s Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, tel: 0303 123
1113 or you can visit their website at [7]www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx.

 

You can find details of how we handle your personal information by
visiting [8]www.stoke.gov.uk/dataprotection.

Yours sincerely

 

Information Rights Team

 

Information Rights

City of Stoke-on-Trent

Floor 2  Civic Centre  Glebe Street  Stoke-on-Trent  ST4 1HH

T: 01782 232853, 01782 233020, 01782 233732, 01782 235965

E: [9][Stoke on Trent City Council request email]

 

Request

Dear Organisation,

I would like to know a full list of Vacant Properties held by your
organisation and any of its subsidiaries.

If possible their market value for sale or to let, whether they would be
considered for a community asset transfer, if not then whether they are
for sale or to let. In a clear and easy to read format. It would be
supportive if the property is for sale or to let that it is listed on here
too:
https://e-pims.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/gove...
and that you inform us of this intention or such listing in the request.

In the previous case in Voyias v IC and LB Camden (EA/201v1/0007), the
requesters asked for substantially similar information, and the judge
favoured disclosure. I appreciate the circumstances here are quite
different, but the same principles should apply. 

I understand there is a risk that your empty properties would be targeted
by squatters should this the list of empty properties be public, but this
is a very slim risk. The prejudice to law enforcement should be real,
likely and substantial, as per Hogan v the ICO and Oxford City Council. I
can assure you that my request is not sent in order to cause trouble for
the authority, it is predominantly for my own research, with publication
as part of campaigning materials. I am concerned at the sale of public
assets, not a not an advocate for their illegal occupation. I would also
say that I cannot imagine the disclosure of this list of properties to
significantly affect a squatting problem that pre-existed my interest in
the organisation. Overall the prejudice to law enforcement is very slim,
and not severe.  Since 12 months will be the time that this information
will be released onto this site, unless others request this information
separately. The requester is not liable for any issues that may arise in
between or after.

It is in the public interest and transparency that this information is
made publicly available under the public sector duty under the equality
act allowing people to know of this information and make use of it under
the Community Asset Transfer scheme and under the Human Rights Act Article
11 enabling the community to gather and make decisions on the allocation
of such assets.

Yours faithfully,

Viran Patel

 

 

 
There’s so much to see and do across the city this summer. [10]Click
here for more information about what’s on offer .

Keep up-to-date with events in the city, job vacancies, news from the city
council and details about services which can help you by signing up to our
email updates at [11]www.stoke.gov.uk/stayconnected

Save time, go online; pay your council tax, manage your benefits, book a
housing repair and report a pothole at a time and place that’s convenient
for you at www.stoke.gov.uk 

show quoted sections

 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Arson-tri...
2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/staff...
3. http://webapps.stoke.gov.uk/AssetReporti...
4. https://www.stoke.gov.uk/directory/37/pr...
5. mailto:[Stoke on Trent City Council request email]
6. http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public
7. http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx
8. file:///C:\Users\Kelly005l\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary%20Internet%20Files\Content.Outlook\434O2OF9\www.stoke.gov.uk\dataprotection
9. mailto:[Stoke on Trent City Council request email]
10. http://www.visitstoke.co.uk/summer?utm_s...
11. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/stayconnected

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Viran Patel please sign in and let everyone know.